Insider Story: How it’s like to volunteer at Heartware

Oct 11, 2019   |   Fan Wenrui

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Welcoming smiles.

Pop-up posters and brochures.

QR codes.

These three things made my first impression of Heartware, right in my school canteen.

Handing me an information brochure, Heartware staff and volunteers gave me a brief overview of several volunteer-driven programmes offered.

Not going to lie, my curiosity piqued, because I’ve yet to see other charity organisations actively promoting volunteerism to high school students.

In spite of the friendliness of the staff and volunteers at the booth, I was hesitant in joining Heartware. As with many other volunteers, I got to learn later, I was unsure about coping with regular volunteerism. It would also be my first time being a part of a huge volunteer organisation.

Will I be able to manage school work with regular volunteering? Will the volunteering experience be as enriching and meaningful as they claimed? Or has it been romanticised for bait?


My initial reservations about joining Heartware as a regular volunteer. (Credit: Vector Stock)


Nevertheless, as an avid ad-hoc volunteer, the idea of regular volunteerism is an irresistible appeal, and a change from the usual. After sounding my interest, the staff invited me to scan a QR code on the brochure and visit Heartware’s official volunteer portal, Youthbank, to book an interview slot.

If I wasn’t so impressed before, I was floored now. This was the first time I met a volunteer organisation that utilises a mobile application and website as seamless platforms to promote volunteering opportunities and take attendance.

It was funny that I had my reservations about time management, but ended up signing up for the Heartware Tuition Programme and Heartware Support Our Pioneers in a few mere clicks. I patiently waited for follow-up messages.


Utilisation of technology- Scanning of QR codes to take attendance on the Youthbank application.

A common sight during the first quarter of the year; Heartware staff hopping from one school to another to give talks on volunteerism and what Heartware has to offer.


An email popped up in my inbox the very next day, asking to collate my availability for an interview. Even the mere few lines of the custom-written email made me feel warm at heart. The email addressed me by my first name and was so accommodating to my availability.

The interviews that followed later were no easy hurdles.

As I sat between two veteran youth volunteers, I had to push through to shine during the Heartware Tuition Programme interview. The interview process, nerve-wracking as it was, required prospect volunteers to answer intellectual-stimulating questions.

The volunteers’ reflections about volunteering were both thought-provoking and insightful, and we instantly clicked through similar tutoring experiences. Sharing pro-tips and tutoring experiences, we established that serving as a tutor was definitely not a job for the weak-minded. Resilience, empathy, and flexibility were three of the many must-have qualities of a good tutor.

It was enriching as these in-depth reflections probed me to think of tutoring in a different light.

Meanwhile, for the Heartware Support Our Pioneers interview, it was more relaxed, with just myself and the staff in-charge.

Why do you want to join the programme? If you were at an elderly’s house and he/she offers you food during the visitation, what would you do? How would you respond if the elderly asks you to help out with household chores? These were some of the many questions posed during the interview. I tackled the questions steadfastly and confidently.

The following day, I received an email confirming my involvement in both programmes. What a relief!

Shhh… Interview session underway!

Next up, deployment training!

Perhaps what sets Heartware apart from many volunteer organisations out there is the diligent effort they put into screening their volunteers and adequately equipping them for what’s to come during deployment.

Training sessions were informative and helpful as staff and volunteer trainers shared skills and tips that would come in handy when interacting with beneficiaries.

Situational questions were posed to train our quick thinking abilities. For example, during the Heartware Tuition Programme deployment training session, we had to solve a mathematical question in 5 minutes, and then pretend to teach a primary school student.

It was then revealed that the ideal approach would be to break the question down into several manageable portions to make the question requirements more comprehensible, then provide timely hints to help the tutee to solve the question step-by-step.

One of the innumerable tutoring tips shared at the Heartware Tuition Programme deployment training!

Having gone through long hours of deployment training, I was finally deployed! The end of the trainings officially marked the start of my journey as a Heartware volunteer.

Posing with fellow volunteer Shameer and a senior with handmade hearts during Support Our Pioneers visitation, in view of Mothers’ Day.

My tutees and I, at one of the many productive tutoring sessions at Boon Lay Garden Primary school. 

 The constant unwavering guidance and companion of the Heartware staff and fellow volunteer friends have been a motivation and encouragement for me to continue pursuing regular volunteerism. Their presence are undoubtedly irreplaceable and unmistakably important in my journey as a regular volunteer. Without their unyielding support along this journey, I would definitely not been able to be here thus far.

I learnt a lot along this volunteering journey. Other than interpersonal skills and empathy, I have also learnt to be responsible and eager to learn, and down to earth. These traits may sound cliché or superficial, but they are indeed some of the many qualities you can pick up, just from the day-to-day interactions with members of the Heartware family.

I have not once regretted my decision to join as a Heartware volunteer. I may be new to regular volunteerism, but I can say with conviction that my volunteering journey with Heartware has been an extremely eye-opening and insightful one so far. My journey as a regular volunteer may have only started this year, but I believe that the small differences are what constitute a major change.

A wise man once said “To change the world, be the change that you want to see.” As teens, we always like to complain about how our society is unjust and far from its ideal state, but shouldn’t we also consider our social responsibility and huge potential to make seemingly small and insignificant but impactful and long lasting changes?

Don’t merely stop at thinking, as actions speak louder than words. Interested in volunteering and want to make a difference?

Be the change that you want to see, and join to be a Heartware volunteer now!