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15 April 2009

Not long after the release of the “A” levels results, the SA-V editorial team goes on hot pursuit of volunteers leaders who have not only been a wonderful blessing to the beneficiaries of The Salvation Army, but who have also scored well in their examinations. SA-V takes time to speak to the 2 leaders separately and here is an excerpt of interviews.

How did you do for your A-levels?

Keet Yeng: I am extremely thankful for having attained my desired grades at the A’level examinations. I hope that I will be able to commence a course of my interest in the university.

Fiona: I scored 7 straight As in all the 7 subjects that I sat for.

What stays with you from volunteering? What's memorable?

Keet Yeng: Volunteering has made me realise that every individual has the power to make a difference. Knowing that my efforts will go on to make someone else’s life better drives me to work even harder. The most memorable part about volunteering would definitely be the smiles you see on the faces of fellow volunteers, the public and the beneficiaries. No matter how bleak things might become, as they say, “a smile is a curve that will set everything straight”.

Fiona: Volunteering is especially meaningful to me because I hope to be able to make a difference in the lives of others, be it indirectly or directly. Moreover, the fellow volunteers that I worked alongside, are really great people whose friendships I treasure.

How has volunteering made a difference to you and your studies? What have you gained?

Keet Yeng: Volunteering has opened my eyes to the lessons that one can learn beyond the four walls of the classroom. More often than not, we tend to take life for granted. Be it the warmth of having an intact family or a sheltered environment, volunteering has taught me to treasure what I have been blessed with. As such, I make it a point to give back to society as often as I can.

Fiona: I have learnt that the human heart is good, and even though modern society is generally perceived by many to have an ugly face, indulging in materialistic wants that have no value to the human soul, there are still people out there who care and who want to help. These experiences and life lessons are priceless.

What would you say to those who want to volunteer? How does one find joy in volunteering?

Keet Yeng: I would tell all those who intend to take up volunteering to stop hesitating and to take the first step forward. There are many people who will benefit from your service and doing so will give them the opportunity to kick-start many things. For instance, the funds that you help raise as a volunteer at an event might allow a needy family to purchase textbooks for its children. Volunteering provides one with the platform to help others to help themselves. In the process of doing so, one will definitely gain immense joy because one’s efforts has allowed another individual to be better off in society.

Fiona: Be prepared to make sacrifices, and don’t give up easily. I have met many people who have given up volunteering after a few attempts because they find it difficult to balance it with their other commitments. It takes a while, so give yourself time to experience the indescribable joys of volunteering. There is no greater happiness than helping others. Nothing else will buy you that.

What advice would you give to them on balancing their studies and community work?

Keet Yeng: The key to finding balance would definitely lie in proper time management and prioritizing. Seek advice from others and don’t remain ‘mum’, bottling up your feelings if you experience difficulties in coping. Share your problem with fellow volunteers and try to even out the workload.

Fiona: Like I mentioned, be prepared to make sacrifices. It won’t be easy at first, but you’ll get into the hang of things after a while. I have always been one to go out with my friends on a regular basis but that became a rare luxury for me in 2008 because of my lack of time. Be prepared to lose sleep too. I slept at 2am on average on weekdays because I was just too busy with school, rehearsals and homework. The temptation to sleep in on Saturday mornings was great, but I continued to go for my regular volunteer work because that was where I got my real break from studies.

What would you say to parents who are considering volunteering for their children?

Keet Yeng: I would tell them that volunteering is a life-changing experience, primarily because it gives you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. Every individual has their own story to tell and in getting to interact with them opens their eyes to the world out there. Volunteering redefines one’s perspective and in doing so, one can definitely be assured that someone else out there is benefiting from one’s effort.

Fiona: GOOD FOR YOU! Haha. Volunteering is truly a life-changing experience, and can teach your children lessons that they’ll never be able to learn from school alone. To top it off, why not get involved in community service with your kids from time to time too? It’ll definitely be a great family-bonding exercise!

What's your next step?

Keet Yeng: I am looking to take up a degree in Podiatry in Australia. In a nutshell, podiatry is the study of disorders afflicting the lower limb, including the knees and the feet. Personally, I feel that many people take their feet for granted and more often than not, we only come to realise their importance when we are on the brink of losing them. Such awareness is lacking in the masses and I hope that in my pursuit of a career in the health sciences, I will be able to share my knowledge and continue to help others to help themselves.

Fiona: For my career direction, I aim to carve a niche for myself in the public relations industry and establish myself as a reputable PR professional. I’m applying for scholarships now and crossing my fingers that I’ll get a couple of offers so that I’ll be able to continue my studies without financial worries. Wish me luck!

Tell us how you have volunteered (both within and outside of The Salvation Army)?

Keet Yeng: Within The Salvation Army, I’ve been involved in the planning of “Project Love for a Dollar”
together with my classmate Fiona for the past two years. “Project Love for a Dollar” is a Christmas gift-wrapping project started by my Junior College class for our service learning project in 2007, but we have since decided to conduct it on a long-term basis, as it is a meaningful move to make during the season of giving. I have also volunteered at Gracehaven as a tutor to the children residing there and done book shelving at the thrift store in Upper Serangoon Road under Red Shield Industries. Externally, I have organized activities for the elderly at neighbourhood links under the Thye Hua Kuan Moral Society.

Fiona: You can find me at the Family Thrift Store on Saturday mornings whenever I’m free. Apart from that, I’m a member of the organising and planning committee for “Project Love for a Dollar”, our annual Christmas fund-raising activity which is being held alongside Kettling in December. Feel free to come up to me if you see me sitting at the booth wrapping presents for the customers!

Article originally published in the SA-V (Salvation Army Volunteer) Bulletin April 2009 © All Rights Reserved