Caption: Steven (left) enjoys spending quality time with his mother Mdm Tan Siok Cheng (right)
“I have never felt so fulfilled in my life. It makes a difference when you know your neighbours. Whether it is staying fit or learning something new together, everyone is watching out for one another.”
When Steven left his banking job in 2015, he had one goal in mind: To spend more time with his mother. The 51-year old bachelor had seen how his father struggled with cancer and regretted not being there for him. So when his mother Mdm Tan Siok Cheng, 82, had to go for a cataract operation seven years ago, he decided it was time to reprioritise his goals in life.
“My mom is my one and only mom. My job - I can always find one as long as I am not afraid of hard work. At this stage in my life, I feel it is important to decide what is important to me,” said Steven.
A life changer
During this period, Steven came to know about TOUCH Community Services through a community outreach exercise. TOUCH staff had gone door knocking and invited Steven and his mother to join the exercise sessions at a nearby void deck. When [email protected] 433 was opened in 2019, their social circle widened as they started interacting with more residents and building rapport.
Caption: Building strong bonds in the community
Caption: Mdm Tan (left) enjoying the company of student volunteers
“I have never felt so fulfilled in my life. It makes a difference when you know your neighbours. Whether it is staying fit or learning something new together, everyone is watching out for one another,” said Steven.
Since then, Mdm Tan has kept herself busy - from taking part in weekly exercise sessions to learning digital skills to attending health talks and art & craft sessions. Every day is filled with meaningful activities. As Mdm Tan has a soft spot for children and youths, she enjoys interacting with student volunteers and still keeps in touch with some of them.
Serving with passion
Other than accompanying his mother to [email protected] 433, Steven has also discovered his passion to serve as a volunteer. For example, he provides logistical support and checks residents’ blood pressure before each exercise session. During the pandemic, Steven reached out to vulnerable neighbours by accompanying them for their vaccinations and medical appointments. Sometimes, he would also chip in to help deliver meals to frail seniors when manpower is tight.
Caption: Steven (left) receiving training from TOUCH staff (middle) on how to use the blood pressure machine before the pandemic
Caption: Steven (second from left) with resident volunteers taking part in a goodie-bag distribution activity during the pandemic
“I am grateful to TOUCH for laying the foundation for me to grow as a volunteer. The training provided and the exposure gained have helped me to better understand the different aspects of volunteering. This is why I am also able to contribute confidently as a Senior Generation Ambassador,” added Steven.
When Mdm Tan’s knees became weaker in 2021, she attended therapy sessions at TOUCH Day Rehabilitation Centre at [email protected] 433. The therapists were able to build on their familiarity with Mdm Tan to address her mobility issues. Soon, Mdm Tan was able to walk more steadily. Residents have also continued to rally around her to encourage and support her needs.
Steven also recently joined the caregivers support group at [email protected] 433, where he finds support from other caregivers and gains insights on caregiving issues.
As an advocate for [email protected] 433, Steven actively reaches out to other residents. “These experiences and learnings are things that money can’t buy. I have gained more than I have lost,” said Steven.