TL;DR – Heartening to see youths contributing to the community.
It was a typical Saturday. Most youths would be sleeping in, then going to town to have fun, chill in cafes, or catching a movie. But on 18th August 2018, a typical Saturday, a group of 300 youths decided to have fun by contributing to the community. They were volunteers of Project Refresh @ Punggol North, a community service project jointly organised by Young NTUC and Northeast Community Develop Council (CDC).
Starting from 7am that day, these volunteers had been refurbishing 35 one-room rental flats of elderly residents in the Punggol North area.
For each flat, the volunteers would typically have to strip away old, peeling paint, give the flat a new coat of paint, and then clean the entire flat. In addition, residents also got new LED lights and a starter kit to make their TVs digital-ready.
Volunteers also find out more about what other things the residents might need. The information is then collated and passed on to the CDCs. And of course, if it’s something that the volunteers can help there and then, they will not hesitate to lend a hand.
Even the Labour Chief was on hand to cheer the volunteers on and also to lend them a hand in the rental flats.
Not the first time Young NTUC organised Project Refresh
In fact, this is the fifth iteration. For each iteration, Young NTUC will work with the CDC to identify rental flats of elderly residents that need to be refurbished. Volunteers will then do a recce to find out what needs to be done for each flat. The volunteers will then plan the materials and equipment needed on the actual day and how to deploy their manpower.
And on the actual day of each iteration of Project Refresh, the volunteers will usually start at 7am and work until around early evening.
But what do the residents do when their flats are being refurbished?
They can’t just stay outside the whole day with nothing to do, right? The volunteers had that covered.
For this iteration of Project Refresh, 13 union leaders from Young NTUC Committee came together to organise a carnival of games and performances. The carnival was in celebration of National Day and open to all residents of the Punggol North area. A buffet lunch was also provided for the residents whose flats were being refurbished.
To prepare for the carnival, the union leaders and the volunteers spent months putting together the game booths. Some of them even learnt to make balloon sculptures. It was definitely a lot of work planning and preparing for both Project Refresh and the carnival. But it’s something that the volunteers found worthwhile.
Lim Wen Sheng, a young union leader with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU) said, “It was definitely a meaningful experience to organise such fun family games for the residents, doing everything from scratch. It wasn’t easy getting everyone together to plan and get ready for the games as all of us are working full time, but I’m glad we pulled it off. The most gratifying thing of course is to see the residents smile!”
Raymond Chin, a young union leader from the Union of Security Security Employees (USE) has been volunteering with Project Refresh since its pilot. He shared, “Through Project Refresh, I believe we have demonstrated the spirit of caring as a community, banding together to help the less privileged. We take care of everyone in any way we can, be it monetarily or physically, and that is the exact kampong spirit we want.”
What about the youth volunteers? How do they feel being a part of Project Refresh?
One of them, Lim Jun Cheng, said, “I come from a family that what some people would call ‘lower socio-economic status’. My father is a logistics worker, my mother works as a part-time sales promoter. I have a younger sister. So I sort of know what these families are going through. But even with my family background, there are still more families out there who need more help than mine. I feel it’s immensely worthwhile helping these families. I also enjoy chatting with the residents. I am grateful that they are willing to open up to me, and share their stories and struggles with me.”
Project Refresh and the carnival is an example of the many helping hands approach.
It’s heartening to see youths spending time and taking the effort to volunteer and contribute to those who need more help. Meanwhile. you can contact Young NTUC for more details of Project Refresh or follow their Facebook page.
(Featured image via Young NTUC)