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Condiments of Love
27 June 2017

We bid farewell to one of HCA’s longest-serving volunteers, Khi San.

William Shakespeare once said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

For 77-year-old Mdm Tio Khi San, her gift took the form of culinary skills, which she has generously lavished upon the patients at HCA’s Day Care Centre for the last 21 years.

One of HCA’s longest-serving volunteers, the warm and unassuming lady is a familiar face to all at the day care centre. Khi San’s joy is simple and heartfelt. “When I see the patients happy and healthy, I’m happy too,” she shares.

For the past two decades, Khi San has faithfully cooked lunch every Thursday for our patients and the bonds she has formed with them are undeniable. However, recently, she made the decision to cut back on her volunteering. “I’ve been experiencing pain in my knees and back,” she explains. “It’s difficult for me to stand for long periods of time.”

HCA’s staff and volunteers planned a farewell celebration for Khi San on 13 April, surprising her with a cake and certificate of appreciation. Despite the discomfort, she enthusiastically helped with serving lunch, ladling steaming bowls of soup for the patients. Khi San was all smiles as staff, volunteers and patients alike effusively regaled her with song and a warm round of applause.

NANCY, HCA’S DAY CARE SUPERVISOR, PRESENTS KHI SAN WITH A CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION.

“Khi San is one of our most faithful volunteers,” says Nancy Soon, HCA’s Day Care Supervisor. “She has generously given a lot of her time and effort.”

The Spirit of Volunteerism

Mdm Khi San started out by performing with her friends at HCA, keeping day care patients entertained with popular oldies. She was compelled to contribute in other ways and took on the responsibility of preparing lunch for the patients on a weekly basis.

“I try to prepare healthy and nutritious dishes for the patients,” she shares with a smile. “It makes me happy to see them enjoying the meals I prepare.”

KHI SAN WITH THE STAFF AT HCA’S DAY CARE CENTRE.

Festive periods are times of celebration for some, but moments of loneliness for those living in isolation. HCA’s Day Care Centre is a second home for the patients, who enjoy the company of staff and volunteers, who often go the extra mile to bring joy and cheer to their day.

For Mdm Khi San, her generosity extended towards taking patients out for meals every now and then. “I would organise buffet lunches for the patients during Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival,” she says. “We are like a family.”

KHI SAN WITH HCA’S DAY CARE PATIENTS, WHO GREATLY ENJOYED HER DELICIOUS COOKING.

Like Khi San, there are numerous volunteers at HCA who take on myriad roles, ranging from befriending patients at day care or at their homes to housekeeping for patients who are physically unable to tend to household chores.

There are also groups like the Inner Wheel Club of Singapore and the Art of Living team, who regularly visit HCA’s Day Care Centres to conduct activities for the patients, including art and craft and light exercises.

Volunteers with special skills such as photography, hairdressing and graphic design often put their expertise to good use by helping out with HCA’s events and projects. It is the collective community spirit that supports HCA’s work in home and day hospice care, and many volunteers, like Khi San, try their best to give as much of their time and effort as possible.

“I will still try to help out if they need me to,” Khi San says.