Some families volunteer together as a way to instil compassion. It has also helped their kids feel more comfortable with marginalised people.
Mr James Foo, 45, his wife, Ms Jessie Lim, their daughter, Jamie, 14, and their son, Justin, 11 (pictured above), have been volunteering for the past five years at AWWA Senior Community Home for low-income seniors who do not have family support.
Several times a year, usually during the school holidays, the Foos spend a few hours at the home during tea time, supplying and serving tea and coffee, as well as local snacks such as bao and kueh, to more than 100 residents.
Mr Foo, a vice-president in the financial industry, says: “We want to expose our children to different facets of society… and we want them to think about others who are less fortunate than them.”
It was challenging at first for his daughter, who started volunteering at the home when she was about 10. Unlike her own grandparents, whom she is close to, the seniors she encountered lived in small groups and often did not have any family visiting them. Some of them used wheelchairs, which she was unfamiliar with.
When she called out the numbers for a Bingo game in English and Mandarin, many elderly residents did not understand as they spoke only Chinese dialects.
Jamie says she no longer finds volunteering at the home “a hassle”. “I see the importance of helping others. Even though the seniors at the home can’t gain compassion from their own families, at least we can help them.”
Related: How to volunteer with my child?