A genuine smile is the universal language of the world, transcending all social and cultural differences. It is a heartfelt exchange of sincerity that needs no words.
It is the very same sincerity to bring smiles to others that underpins PSA Singapore’s annual Charity Fair. “Traditionally, PSA will organise our annual Charity Fair, where different divisions and departments come together to raise funds through sales of food, drinks and other merchandise,” explains Benjamin Chan, Deputy Manager, Corporate Communications Department at PSA Singapore.
Though large-scale events have come to a halt this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSA team was determined to continue their giving efforts, albeit in a different way.
“The PSA Health@Home team had to be creative, given the pandemic situation, as we really wanted to reach out and be ‘alongside’ our partners,” Benjamin says. “Together with our sister subsidiary CrimsonLogic, we collaborated to grant 500 wishes of 500 needy individuals as part of Singapore’s SG Cares Giving Week 2020!”
Benjamin Chan (left) and Terence Heng (right) from the PSA Health@Home team with beautifully wrapped gifts at HCA’s headquarters.
The beneficiaries of the initiative, “Wishing for 500 Smiles”, include HCA and various other charities, focusing on patients with life-limiting illnesses, stay-alone elders and low-income residents.
The process of fulfilling 500 wishes has been a moving experience for the PSA Health@Home team. Most wishes related to important necessities, such as grocery vouchers, diapers and milk. However, there was one wish that particularly tugged at the team’s heartstrings. “Personally for me, the one wish that really stood out was the one where a terminally ill father had requested for a Lego set for his son,” Benjamin shares. “But he passed on before the wish got to him.”
“I think when we received the news, all of us got slightly emotional. It just dawned on us how the Lego set would be the very last present the son would ever receive from his late father.”
Despite the sheer number of wishes they had received, the team worked quickly to fulfill all of them. It was a reciprocal exchange of joy and smiles when they brought the Lego set to the little boy’s home and placed it in his hands.
The joy of volunteering lies at the heart of the PSA Health@Home initiative, which was piloted in 2015. Under the programme, PSA staff are given time off work and provided a transport allowance to volunteer. In addition, PSA retirees are also given a small allowance, if they commit to volunteering regularly, to encourage volunteerism after retirement.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the PSA volunteers often organised different activities to engage the patients at HCA’s Day Hospices.
“HCA is one of PSA’s Health@Home partners,” Ms Caroline Lim, PSA Global Head of Human Resources, says. “Other than corporate donations, our PSA Health@Home volunteers also regularly give their time and energy to conduct centre-based activities like arts and crafts and sing-along sessions, to bring a touch of fun to the HCA community.”
“I personally have conducted a reading session of my book for the kids and their siblings at HCA as well, where I experienced the truth of HCA’s ‘give joy, gain joy’ slogan for volunteers.”
Ms Caroline Lim (in white) conducted a reading session at the Star PALS Family Day 2018.
While the COVID-19 pandemic posed immense challenges for the PSA Health@Home team, the drive to continue reaching out to its partners spurred them to rethink the way they conducted their volunteering activities.
“We could no longer volunteer in large groups, or organise outings for the beneficiaries, to places of interest,” Benjamin shares. “But our spirit of volunteerism fuelled our creative minds and the team explored ways of doing things differently.”
The HCA team enjoying a sweet treat of bubble tea from PSA.
“During the Circuit Breaker period, we launched PSAssist, a specialised Carepack initiative, where we treated frontliners from HCA to bubble tea.”
Over the years, PSA has donated over $200,000 and dedicated more than 800 volunteering hours to HCA, through logistics and manpower support, for many of HCA’s events and volunteering assignments.
The spirit of generosity continues at PSA. The organisation has already expressed interest to provide support for the upcoming Oasis@Outram, HCA’s third Day Hospice, in the form of monetary support and volunteers, to run the programmes.
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