Finding Happiness, Peace, and Fulfilment Through Volunteering

Meet 40-year-old Neha Gupta, a passionate volunteer with the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Blood Donor Programme. Despite her demanding role as an Administration Manager during the work week, Neha dedicates her weekends to spending quality time with her seven-year-old daughter and volunteering in different capacities within the SRC. Besides being a volunteer with the Blood Donor Programme, she has launched a Basic Cardiac Life Support and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) course, hosted induction sessions as part of Volunteer Management, and taken on the role of a Home Monitoring and Eldercare volunteer. 

Neha Gupta's journey as a volunteer began in April 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Fuelled by the desire to seek her purpose in life, she embarked on a path of self-discovery. She realised that she could make a positive impact on the lives of others. 

"My life is blessed, maybe I can make someone else’s life better too," she thought.

Her initial volunteering assignment was with the Singapore Red Cross Academy (SRCA), where she played a crucial role in launching a new course — Basic Cardiac Life Support + Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The experience of contributing to a life-saving course provided Neha with a sense of fulfilment and ignited her passion for volunteering.

Expanding her horizons, Neha took on various roles, including volunteer management, hosting induction sessions, and becoming a Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+) volunteer.

HoME+ Community Responder: A Journey of Connection and Understanding

As a Community Responder with Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+), Neha undertook the responsibility of upgrading outdated monitoring systems, engaging with the seniors, and exchanging views on their day-to-day lives.

Her journey as a HoME+ volunteer began following her interaction with HoME+ volunteers during a Volunteer Leadership Programme. Driven by the curiosity to deepen her understanding of HoME+'s humanitarian work, Neha joined as a HoME+ volunteer to explore the diverse ways that the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) benefitted beneficiaries.

Notwithstanding the initial challenges posed by the language barriers (as not all elderly individuals could communicate in English), Neha leveraged sign language in her interactions with the seniors. 

"I prioritised understanding the challenges the seniors faced in their daily lives. I also found inspiration from their interesting life stories and experiences," she said. 

Despite the hurdles at the onset, every volunteering experience has been memorable for Neha. 

"My interactions with the elderly brought to light the often-overlooked challenges that come with ageing. They serve as poignant reminders of the limitations faced by our parents and seniors," Neha said.

Amid these challenges, Neha discovered the rewarding nature of her role. Each interaction became an opportunity to connect, empathise, and leave a lasting impact on the lives of the elderly. Through her dedicated service as a HoME+ Community Responder, Neha not only upgraded monitoring systems but also enriched the lives of those she encountered.

"Volunteering’s an addiction, once you start, you can’t stop. It’s very rewarding. It’s the feel-good factor that keeps you going," she mused, encapsulating the essence of her commitment.

Besides volunteering with HoME+, Neha has also set her sights on furthering her volunteer journey with the Blood Donation Programme.

Bloodbank Volunteer

Motivated by the knowledge that a bag of blood could potentially save three lives, Neha has embraced the noble calling to save lives, by becoming an avid volunteer with the Blood Donor Programme (BDP). 

As a dedicated Bloodbank Volunteer, Neha takes on diverse responsibilities. She coordinates mobile blood drives, advocates blood donation, and raises awareness about Blood Donation Drives (BDD) at volunteer induction sessions. Neha's tireless contributions and unwavering commitment ensure that families still have their loved ones around.  

The most memorable aspect of Neha's work is the heartfelt blessings received from blood donors. They remind her of the impactful difference she makes in people's lives.

Volunteering in the Bloodbank has given Neha insightful reflections, underscoring the importance of a personal connection. Her volunteering journey has been very fulfilling.

When asked what kept her going, Neha said, "The knowledge that my efforts contribute to keeping Singapore safe and families together keeps me going. There is no substitute for blood yet."

Neha strives to shore up the pool of donors in Singapore while raising awareness about the importance of blood donation. 

"I believe that while the intent is present, people may lack awareness of the pressing need to step forward and contribute to this life-saving cause," she said.

Volunteer Leader

Neha was one of the pioneers who graduated from the first batch of the Volunteer Leadership Programme (VLP) back in January 2022 when COVID-19 restrictions were still imposed. Conducted virtually over four weekends, the VLP provided Neha with profound insights. The programme holds a special place in her heart, reflecting the depth of her commitment.

"The VLP helped me understand the complex responsibilities involved in leading a project. I also learnt about the importance of obtaining continuous feedback when running projects," said Neha.

For Neha, serving as a Volunteer Leader carries the same sense of fulfilment as being a volunteer with SRC. However, it comes with an added sense of pride and a determination to ignite the same passion in others.

"As a Volunteer Leader, I aspire to guide volunteers to greater heights, leveraging my experiences and insights to inspire and motivate others," she said. 

Lessons learnt from volunteering

Through her volunteering journey, Neha has learnt, “You don't get time, you have to make time."

While fighting depression earlier in her life, Neha found her life to be a mundane routine, with an indescribable void in her life. She subsequently realised the importance of leading a meaningful life. 

When she started volunteering, she benefited from the "happiness, peace and that extra bounce in her step."

Building on the lessons gleaned from battling depression and from her volunteering experiences, Neha has also learnt that the importance of self-care cannot be understated. 

“To help others, you have to first prioritise and take care of yourself. Only then, can you extend help to others," Neha said. 

Getting more than you give

Neha attributes her joy of volunteering to the wonderful bond she has forged with the employees and volunteers of SRC, who have since become her very close friends. 

Besides SRC’s employees and volunteers, Neha draws much motivation for volunteering to be the beneficiaries that she meets; “the kindness, warmth and love you get from them." 

Neha describes her most enjoyable memories to be her interactions with elderly folk, she recounts one such incident fondly, “When I had finished bandaging an Auntie, she hugged me and said bless you, which meant a lot to me."

Neha finds herself to be a happier person who embraces gratitude in her life. 

“Take the first step to volunteer. Once you have taken the first step, you may find greater happiness, peace, and fulfilment in life," she said.

Written by Emma Yoon, Volunteer
Copyedited by Dr Nguyen Kien Truc Giang, Volunteer

Are you looking for a meaningful cause to channel your time towards? Join the Singapore Red Cross as a volunteer!