Years ago, IT consultant Victor Lo noticed his mother going out regularly. He asked what was keeping her occupied, and was surprised to learn she had been volunteering with SAFRA Community Services Club (SAFRACS). She helped out as a line dance instructor, volunteering her time and expertise to the club’s beneficiaries, which include senior citizens, the physically disabled and underprivileged children.
Active since 1987, SAFRACS has been organising monthly volunteer activities, including visits, celebrations or outings such as heritage tours, educational tours or shopping excursions. Volunteers hope to make a difference, and bring some laughter and cheer into the lives of the less fortunate. The club also aims to build friendships among members through volunteer work. Victor, 29, has now been a volunteer with SAFRACS for nine years, and is the new vice chairman of the group’s committee based in SAFRA Toa Payoh.
Why did you decide to become a volunteer?
My mother’s volunteer work was an inspiration. It spurred me to give it a go and I’ve not looked back since, as the activities and events that SAFRACS organises are very meaningful and fulfilling. I enjoy the company of my fellow volunteers and friends, as we have to work together to organise a wide range of activities, and to create fun and exciting memories for our beneficiaries. The happy faces and gratitude expressed by our beneficiaries really warm my heart.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
I do not know sign language, so outings with the deaf community were not easy, as it was challenging to communicate with them. Thankfully, the beneficiaries were understanding and helpful, and even offered to teach us certain hand signs. These kinds of interaction are what I enjoy most, as they benefit the beneficiaries while, at the same time, teaching me something new. Today, volunteerism and kindness are not as encouraged or publicised as compared with the 1980s. We should re-emphasise this spirit of giving today and for the future.
How many volunteers are there? Can anyone join?
Currently we have more than 300 registered volunteers. The average turnout rate is about 30 to 50 volunteers, depending on the event. SAFRACS holds monthly activities, inclusive of one major event that involves close to 150 volunteers. Besides events for beneficiaries, we also do volunteer appreciation. This year, we will take a nostalgic look at what SAFRACS has done for the community in over 30 years. We welcome anyone who is keen to volunteer and there are no restrictions to join. We have volunteers of different nationalities and from various age groups, so anyone is welcome!