Voices of Heartware Network: To Give and Grow

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Hi! My name is Ming Sheng, and I’m 17 this year. I have been volunteering for about 4 years now from my secondary school days. I started out as part of the volunteer team under the Chinese Development Assistance Council’s (CDAC) Project Excellence, where I assisted teachers tutoring primary and secondary school students. On top of that, I was active in a Charity Bazaar when I was in Secondary 2, and later on in Service Learning in my last two years before graduation. These projects instilled upon me an ever-growing interest in the volunteering scene, and this has led me to seeking more profound activities under Heartware Network. 

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Representing my group as a volunteer group leader at a Primary School June Camp in 2015. 

On Volunteerism

I feel that growth happens when I set my sights higher, and take up bigger challenges that will put my leadership and planning skills to the test. With this in mind, I decided to take on the Youth Planning Committee (YPC©) role for the Home Team Parade and Festival 2017. Heartware Network is a unique organisation that emphasises long-term volunteering commitments so as to chart development of both volunteers and beneficiaries. So, I see that this experience will definitely be a great one for me!

Volunteering is definitely important, not just to me but to all youth out there. It is a platform that allows students and young adults to contribute and be further exposed to realities of the society. This thought has not changed as I now embark on my YPC© journey. It is unfortunate that students have been placing too much stress on studies and school, and teachers may not really advocate strongly for volunteerism.

By volunteering, one can expect to gain many relevant life-skills. My time under Home Team’s YPC© can help me enhance my competence in writing email proposals, interviewing other youth, and planning training programmes, just to name a few. These skills are beneficial, especially as I prepare myself for the working world.

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Listening intently for games instructions before a game begins in our YPC training.

On Heartware Network

I’m at the beginning of my Heartware journey, but already my impression of the organisation is pleasant and positive. The staff, atmosphere, and culture is friendly and helpful. I was stressed during my interview for the YPC role, but the staff exude warmth and they take care of our welfare well (the food they bought for us were really nice)!

My most impressionable moment thus far would be the YPC© training sessions that took place over two Saturdays. It was a good time for me to interact with my fellow volunteers, and then finding out that I am one of the youngest in the room. The training sessions were paced with interactive games, sharing segments by the Heartware Network founder and staff, and life-skills enhancement. Scenario-based learning was an especially crucial component that prepped us for possible situations in the near future. Overall, the training sessions were very well-rounded, and it was a great learning experience.

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YPC© members looking on with anticipation during the game “electric current”.

My first mission as an official volunteer was to be involved in a recruitment drive at Anglo-Chinese Junior College. It was my first time doing an outreach, so it was really helpful that the staff provided my fellow YPC© member Jun Ming and I some tips on how to run a recruitment drive. Through those tips, I can further improve my performance in future recruitment drives.

Our very first YPC© meeting with other members was also successful as we were on task, and did not go off track despite starting our meeting a few minutes late. This is very important for me, because whenever I have meetings with my secondary school alumni group, we tend to digress easily and overrun our meeting duration. Time management is key!

Recruitment DriveFirst recruitment drive with fellow YPC© member Jun Ming.

On What Comes Next

As much as I’m excited for what is to come, I forsee challenges ahead. The biggest at this moment is recruiting volunteers for the Home Team event happening in May. We are on a tight schedule – an obstacle impeded by the fact that most of us volunteers are still studying and juggling with school load.

Furthermore, youth out there may be less aware of Home Team Singapore, as compared to the popular, eye-catching National Day Parades. Home Team is a collection of 10 national agencies that include the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Prison Service (SPS), all focused on safekeeping the nation’s security. Delivering this knowledge and infusing the interest to participate will be a test for us YPC© members who wish to pull in passionate volunteers to help run the event smoothly.

However, I believe that we are a strong YPC© that will help one other and overcome this challenge together as one family. We can do this by having more recruitment drives, and promoting more promptly and widely to all about this special occasion, and hope that they can join us too!

Heartware Network Home Team EDM

My goal for this volunteering experience is to close the Home Team Parade and Festival 2017 smoothly with few hiccups, together with my fellow YPC© members, leaders, and volunteers. My past volunteering experience in big events was fun, but they did little in exposing me to what is true volunteerism and ownership. The back-end planning I am currently working on as part of the YPC© opened my eyes to the difficulties of planning a huge event, and there are a lot of anomalies we need to consider so as to run the event successfully. Now I have so much respect and appreciation for all event planners!

A Shout Out

To all potential Leaders and General Volunteers out there, volunteerism can be fun and enriching at the same time. If you are passionate and have time to spare despite your busy schedules, why not do something meaningful by embarking on this fulfilling volunteering journey with us? My hope is that we will volunteer not to gain VIA hours or because it looks grand on our resume. Rather, we should give away our time and energy because we have that passion and courage to step up and advance an important cause, and we want to serve and create a better community for all.

Just remember: if it is not doing from the heart, it is not worth doing.

 

Written by Tay Ming Sheng, 17

Awaiting polytechnic admission

Home Team Festival and Parade 2017 YPC© Member