“The volunteers have become my close friends and they are very patient with me. They spend time to chit-chat with me, helping me to run errands or buy groceries." - Mdm Lim Kwee Khai
Employee-led fundraiser allows TOUCH Senior Activity Centre to start new ‘Seniors Caring for Seniors’ program
Through Salesforce.org’s donation matching program, employees in Singapore spearheaded a company-wide fundraiser raising over $100,000 SGD to provide TOUCH Community Services with funding to develop their ‘Seniors Caring for Seniors’ program at TOUCH Seniors Activity Centre. This is an initiative that would see seniors reaching out to more vulnerable peers in their communities offering friendship and services like errand running and general assistance- all of which assist in helping them to be healthy and cared for in the community and delaying their needs for healthcare services and institutional care.
Through this pay-it-forward model, seniors who enrolled in the program were able to:
Promote volunteerism and seniors’ strengths and abilities, making them feel valued, and enhancing their self-esteem
Encourage seniors to step out of their comfort zone and become active contributors in their community
Help to break the misconception that older people are a burden to the society.
Enable TOUCH Seniors Activity Centre to build a social support network among the seniors living in the community they serve
As of 31 December 2014, TOUCH had trained a total of 45 senior volunteers for the program and are on target to recruit and train 70 volunteers by the end of 2015. Of the 45 Senior Volunteers, 41 carry out befriending services every Monday and they visited more than 50 frail and lonely elderly in Geylang Bahru & Kallang Bahru on a weekly basis.
Some stories we received from both the volunteers and beneficiaries:
Mdm Ng Mui Tiang
Mdm Ng Mui Tiang, 74 years old and widowed, has been coping with the grief and loss of her late husband since 2013. Her rapport with TSAC staff gave her the courage to step out to volunteer under the centre’s Seniors Caring Seniors program in October 2014.
Like most seniors, Mdm Ng was worried that at the age of 74, she would be unable to follow through on the trainings on practical helping skills such as wheelchair management, befriending, listening skills, reducing fall risks and responding to crises and emergencies.
With support from the staff and other volunteers, Mdm Ng graduated from the Seniors Caring for Seniors training and reports at the centre every Monday morning in her volunteer T-shirt. She was assigned to partner with another volunteer, Mdm Helen, 64 years old. Together they visit vulnerable seniors. Mdm Ng says that training helps her gain more knowledge, confidence and new skills in interacting with the assigned vulnerable seniors who are frail, home-bound or socially isolated and living alone at home.
Mdm Lim Kwee Khai
Mdm Lim Kwee Khai, single and 82 years old, is one of the beneficiaries that look forward to the weekly visits by Seniors Caring Seniors volunteers. Mdm Lim lives alone and does not have any family support. She has weak knees and requires walking aids and a wheelchair to help her move around. She enjoys the volunteers’ visits and said “the volunteers have become my close friends and they are very patient with me. They spend time to chit-chat with me, helping me to run errands or buy groceries.”
These are examples of the success stories that have come from TOUCH Seniors Activity Centre’s new program. They show the impact that can come from Salesforce employees utilizing the matching grants program provided by the Foundation and channeling these financial resources towards the development of community programs they care about. TOUCH Senior Center also utilizes Salesforce technology to manage their organization and has benefitted from more than 1,565 volunteer hours.