Empowering Youth for Community Service

As the Assistant Director of the Red Cross Youth (RCY) - Chapters, Jerrold Lam Tian Yu has been actively involved with Red Cross Youth, and led RCY’s annual fundraiser Project R.I.C.E+  as Project Director last year. Passionate about community work, Jerrold shares his volunteer experiences and insights from RCY, particularly Project R.I.C.E+ 2021, which he spearheaded and brought to fruition despite the many challenges. 

Having learnt first aid in his secondary school days, Jerrold Lam initially joined the Red Cross Youth (RCY) - Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) Chapter with the aim of renewing his first aid certification.  However, he found himself engaged in organising blood drives, youth symposiums, and other community related projects, which  connected him with other like-minded youth. When Jerrold entered university, he instinctively continued his RCY journey with the RCY - National University of Singapore (NUS) Chapter.

Overcoming obstacles

In 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Jerrold led the RCY - Chapter members in tertiary institutions in Project R.I.C.E.+, a nationwide project to distribute grocery bundle sets to disadvantaged households. 

It was daunting to plan, manage and execute Project R.I.C.E.+, given the large scale of logistics involved and the frequent changes in the COVID-19 regulatory restrictions, which forced Jerrold and his team to suspend over-the-counter donations at supermarkets and pivot to online donations.

Jerrold had to work around the COVID-19 restrictions to prepare the grocery bund sets for the Project R.I.C.E+ beneficiaries. Instead of the usual practice of collecting and packing the grocery bundle sets in a single location, Jerrold and his team had to deploy volunteers across a number of centres and advise them to collect, pack, and deliver the grocery bundles in smaller batches to ensure the well-being and safety of the beneficiaries and volunteers. 

Whenever the COVID-19 restrictions were tightened, Jerrold had to re-organise all the logistics for volunteer deployment and grocery bundle distribution, while grappling with constraints in volunteer numbers. When a location partner suspended its collaboration with 'Project R.I.C.E.+' due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Jerrold found himself having to come up with traffic control and parking plans to load the grocery bundles onto 40 vehicles in a space no larger than three basketball courts

Recalling the experience, Jerrold said, "Our team overcame the obstacles with tenacity and quick-thinking. Interestingly, having to overcome so many hurdles to successfully distribute the grocery bundles to the beneficiaries actually made the experience more rewarding and fulfilling. Having dealt with the challenges the pandemic threw at us, we are now much better prepared to face disruptions and hiccups. As cliché as it might sound, we now expect the unexpected," Jerrold explained. 

Learning from experience

Jerrold is grateful to all the volunteers, sponsors, and partners, such as Sheng Siong Supermarket Pte. Ltd for their support and contribution, as Project R.I.C.E.+ 2021 would not have been a success without them. 

"Everyone banded together to take part in this project. They made an impact at a time when help was really needed. Although coordinating this project during the pandemic was not easy, the words of appreciation from the beneficiaries and partners made this tumultuous journey worthwhile," Jerrold said.

Having successfully completed a large-scale project during the COVID-19 lockdown, Jerrold subsequently shared the insights and lessons he gleaned from the experience, as an RCY representative at the Workplace Safety and Health Conference 2022.

Since then, Jerrold has risen through the ranks to become the Assistant Director of RCY - Chapters. He now oversees the RCY - Junior College Chapters, and mentors RCY youth leaders on their projects.  

Reflecting on how his RCY journey has been a fulfilling and enriching one, with ample opportunities to learn and grow over the years, Jerrold encourages youth to join RCY, to make a difference in the lives of others, as well as their own. 

“Through RCY, you learn about blood donation advocacy, first aid, disaster management, and engage in community service projects. These experiences will expand your horizons while empowering you to help the community. You may face challenges along the way, but no problem is insurmountable if you are determined to work with others on a solution. You will become stronger through it, and will be able to do more to help those in need.”

By Serena Ng, Volunteer


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