Singapore

Showing kindness through micro-volunteering

Many volunteers stop giving their time once they join the workforce, get caught up in the rat race and start raising their families.

To counter this, Ms Sherry Soon set up Be Kind SG last year, offering micro-volunteering opportunities. Volunteers can join the informal group in one or more activities.

Ms Soon, 37, who started volunteering in her teens, said: "Micro-volunteering is fuss-free, flexible and requires less commitment."

She chose the name Be Kind SG to emphasise the importance of the quality. And kindness can be shown in different ways, she said, from the giving of time or money to showing tolerance when you see a child throw a tantrum in public.

The group has about 500 volunteers now from all walks of life and over half have volunteered more than once. Be Kind SG posts its activities on meetup.com for sign-ups and there are activities almost every weekend.

Some are regular, such as making birthday cards for residents of welfare homes. The group also organises birthday celebrations and activities during visits to homes.

There are also activities to honour "invisible heroes" such as domestic workers, nurses and transport workers, who are often taken for granted but whose work is crucial to keep the country going, she said. These could include making flower arrangements and baking cookies for them.

Ms Soon, who is married with no children, used to teach children with learning difficulties. But she stopped work two years ago owing to the debilitating effects of an auto-immune disease.

Because of her illness and life experiences, she identifies with what she calls "invisible communities", such as the long-staying patients at the Institute of Mental Health, people with disabilities and the destitute.

She said: "We have only one life and we should focus more on relationships and how our lives can make a positive impact on the world."

And the bonds she has built with residents in these homes keep the fire of volunteerism burning in her.

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