14-year-old Kelly lives with her brother, mother and grandmother in a two-room rental flat. School bus assistant by day and librarian by night, her mother Barbara (not her real name) works two jobs to support the family. Living conditions are poor; Kelly does not have a study table and has to go to McDonald’s or the void deck often to study instead.
However on 21 November 2014, the eve of her birthday, Kelly finally got to enjoy the study area she has always dreamt of, thanks to a team of dedicated CapitaLand staff volunteers. Kelly is one of the 150 children beneficiaries whose homes were given a special makeover on CapitaLand Volunteer Day.
Anticipation and excitement filled the air as 250 CapitaLand senior management and staff gathered at Capital Tower to start off the day as CapitaLand’s President and Group CEO, Mr Lim Ming Yan, flagged off all staff volunteers for the Group’s second ever CapitaLand Volunteer Day (CVD) in Singapore.
Through cleaning, painting and other refurbishment works, volunteers were ready to make a difference in the selected homes, which included 16 residential units under voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), as well as two children’s homes - Melrose Home (Children’s Aid Society) and PERTAPIS Children’s Home.
“We are extremely heartened that our efforts to spur the spirit of volunteerism in CapitaLand has gained marked momentum over the years. We have clocked 25,000 volunteer hours year-to-date, a commendable 50% leap from 2013’s full-year numbers. This shows that more and more of our staff believe in our shared credo of ‘Building People. Building Communities.’ ”
“We hope our gift of an enhanced living and learning environment will encourage our children beneficiaries to learn better and realise their full potential,” said Mr Lim Ming Yan, President and Group CEO, CapitaLand Limited.
First time volunteer Teo Seah Hean, Executive, Corporate Finance and Treasury, CapitaMalls Asia, was excited and could not wait to get started with his team. “The family we’ll be helping needs a study table and new fans. We want to provide them with all these and more. Today, we hope to make a difference.”
Making A Difference
Kelly wasn’t the only one who enjoyed a pleasant surprise that day. Another team of volunteers was working hard on a two-room rental flat to surprise 7-year-old Jen (not her real name) who would be home from school later that evening.
Jen lives with her divorced mother. Her mother, Mary, works as a cleaner to support the family but has not had a regular income in the past three years. Without a proper study area, Jen has to kneel down on the floor to do her homework at a coffee table. Mary can’t wait to see her daughter’s expression when she sees the new study area. She hopes that her daughter can continue to study hard and fulfil her dream of becoming a policewoman in the future.
The team was very committed to the job and staff volunteer leaders went above and beyond the call of duty, putting in extra hours to visit Mary’s home to better understand what she needed. Edwin Tan, Executive, Enterprise Risk Management, CapitaLand Limited, shared what he learnt from the pre-event day visit, “We wanted to find out exactly what they need and realized they could use new school bags and stationery for the kids.”
He then discussed with his team and decided they would like to create a special feature wall for her to hang her pictures, as well as install new lighting to brighten up the place.
Beaming from ear to ear, Mary was very appreciative and personally thanked the volunteers for their help.
“Thank you guys so much. I really appreciate this and I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she comes home to see her new study area,” Mary said.
Spreading the Love
For many first time volunteers, the chance to take a day off to help others in need was a unique and enriching experience. Said Marilyn Ng, Property Management Executive, CapitaLand Singapore, of the company’s three-day Volunteer Service Leave system, “This is really something different from other companies. I'm definitely going to make good use of the three-day leave given for volunteer service. It is also a great experience to share with your colleagues!"
About 35 volunteers were involved in painting the fences and murals of four rooms in Melrose Home (Children’s Aid Society). The younger children even helped with a mural, clamouring to stamp their handprint on the wall. Their colourful handiwork sure did put a smile on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes.
For Sim Li Koon, Senior Manager, IT Audit, CapitaLand Limited, the entire experience was not only an eye-opener, but also a great chance for her to bond with colleagues outside the workplace. Despite sweating buckets, she and her team worked hard to paint the ceilings of their assigned flat and even filled the room with lots of laughter.
A Peek into the Future
Homes weren’t the only ones that received a makeover. The children were also given enrichment lessons as CapitaLand brought its Providing Educational Exposure for Kids (P.E.E.K) programme, which is usually held in CapitaLand properties, out to the two children’s homes for the first time. The children also learnt healthy eating and good personal hygiene habits from the volunteers.
P.E.E.K is a fun-filled discovery trail at CapitaLand properties aimed at educating children on eco-friendly tips, as well as engage them in teambuilding games.
Joel Lin, Senior Executive, Market & Strategy Insight and Corporate Planning, CapitaLand Limited, one of the volunteers serving in PERTAPIS Children’s Home, taught the kids how to keep their community green as well as engage them in fun activities like classifying recyclable materials.
For many of the volunteers, the long day was definitely worth the while when they saw the delight on the children’s faces. More than that, the ability to make a difference, even in just one room, warmed the hearts of everyone present.