For many of us, we can recall the love, joy and time spent with our parents. But for some children, this may be something which they long for; something which some of us may take for granted. For children, whose parent(s) are incarcerated, childhood can be a very trying time of transition and pain; one marked with little stability but with drastic changes. Many of these children have to deal with loss and loneliness in their formative years alone. These are the children Aunty Beatrice works with.
Aunty Beatrice, or “Aunty B” as she is fondly known, has been a volunteer with The Salvation Army for many years. She now dedicates her service to Kids In PAUS (Play Activities Under the Salvation Army) and Prison Support Services; a community outreach programme that reaches out to 213 children (about 200 families). Kids in PAUS (or KIP for short) provides prisoners, their children and family members emotional and practical support such as befriending, counseling and providing access to financial assistance during and after incarceration.
Inspiring, Joyful, Loving & Dedicated
Aunty B joined as a staff member in 2001 and is continuing her service as a volunteer today. She continues to inspire the staff and beneficiaries in KIP with her selfless dedication and joyful service.
This 67-year-old kindergarten teacher is no stranger to working with prison inmates and their families. Before KIP, she had experience volunteering as a counselor and coordinator. When she was approached to help with the children’s ministry, Children Helping Other Children, in KIP, she agreed immediately.
Meeting Aunty B for the first time, I was immediately charmed with her broad smile and bubbly nature. She has an attractive personality that draws people to her. As we spoke, it became obvious that she loves her work and the children at KIP. She spoke about them with such enthusiasm and earnestness.
“You have to love them (and) bring yourself down to the level of the children. Be with them. Join with whatever they’re doing. Be part of what they are doing. Enjoy! The important thing is to enjoy with them, enjoy each other’s fellowship.”
And this love is so evidently demonstrated in her service. For example, you will find Aunty B making and preparing materials and toys for the children, out of her own resources, in order to help KIP manage costs. Her skills and experience in teaching has also helped her in her interaction with the children. And as a result of this, the children always look forward to seeing her and experiencing her warmth and infectious cheerfulness.
“Passion Keeps Me Going”
Despite the extensive amount of time and effort in preparation for working with the children, Aunty B never feels weary. She owes this to her passion for this ministry, making her assignment with KIP a meaningful and enjoyable one. The only burden she has is the inability to help the children beyond a certain point; being unable to do follow up work. Apart from that, she remarks, “It is a joy to volunteer. Volunteering makes you happy. There is satisfaction when things work out well.”
And her efforts are deeply valued, as Ms. Katherine Peh, a Prison Support Service Staff, affirms, “She is like a resource to us.” Indeed, KIP, being a self-funded community outreach programme, has a need for more resources. And it is volunteers like Aunty B, who KIP partners with, help make KIP’s work possible and help raise part of the $350,000 a year needed to run the programme.
December 2008 © All Rights Reserved