By Kennice Setiadi, Volunteer and Sondra Foo, Corporate Communications and Marketing

The mood of anticipation lingered on in the air as the residents of the Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD) were wheeled into the Multi-purpose Hall on 13 December.

Efforts by The Portcullis Group

Around the hall, corporate volunteers from The Portcullis Group were all decked out in red, soaking in the festive mood for Christmas. The Christmas celebration is an annual event organised by The Portcullis Group to bring love and joy to the residents and caregivers during this festive period.

In his speech, Singapore Red Cross Chairman Mr Tee Tua Ba shared that, The Portcullis Group has been volunteering at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled for more than 10 years. The staff of The Portcullis Group visited the residents of the Home regularly and forged bonds with the residents and caregivers alike. Over the years, they had organised many internal fundraisers to raise funds for the local humanitarian services of the Singapore Red Cross and the Home. The staff of The Portcullis Group also donated a piano to the Home. The Portcullis Group commemorated its 10th anniversary of its corporate social responsibility efforts with the Red Cross Home for the Disabled through a fundraising gala dinner in November 2017.

Chairman Tee added that “the successful fundraising gala dinner was made possible with the support of Mr David Chong, the President of The Portcullis Group. The target was to raise S$200,000. The amount raised at the fundraiser surpassed expectations, raising more than S$270,000.”

With the funds raised, Chairman Tee said, “The Portcullis Group then developed a ceiling hoist system to enhance the quality of care provided to the residents while easing the workload of the caregivers.”

Chairman Tee also shared his opinion about corporate social responsibility (CSR), “CSR is where companies do not think solely of

making money but think of helping the less fortunate in the society. People want to work in a company which thinks of others.”

He also thanked and lauded Ms Kim Boo, Human Resource Director of The Portcullis Group for spearheading its CSR efforts over the past ten years.

Despite all their bustle at work, the staff from The Portcullis Group constantly take turns to visit the Home to interact with the residents every month.

Portcullis is a very strong supporter of the home. They believe in the cause that we are doing,” Serene Chia, Director of RCHD said.

The unwavering contributions of the employees of The Portcullis Group to RCHD were attested by Resident Manager Fazila Suliah, of The Portcullis Group, “I have worked in the Portcullis for more than 12 years. I came here once every two months. We take turns to volunteer.”

Kim Boo, the Human Resources Director of The Portcullis Group said, “we help to feed and chat with the residents.”

Performances bring joy

Following the speech by Chairman, a series of performances ensued.

Next, a carolling group serenaded the audience to the familiar tunes of “Jingle bells”, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World” and other Christmas carols.

A guy in red hat and costume was handing out vibrantly coloured balloons twisted into a wide variety of unique shapes to the residents.

In came jolly Santa, with his rosy cheeks, stout frame and signature Christmas attire and hat. Santa presented gifts to the caregivers for their dedication, love and care for the residents as Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Chairman Mr Tee Tua Ba looked on. Retired judge and husband of Ms Kim Boo, Mr George Wei masqueraded as Santa, bringing joy to the residents and caregivers alike.

The staff of the Portcullis Group then patiently and fed the residents.

Towards the end, resident Quan Yao, animatedly waved back at the volunteers, thanking them for organising the joyous Christmas celebration.

Indeed, the radiant smiles on the faces of our residents and caregivers say it all. It is hoped that each Portcullis volunteer involved will be heartened in the knowledge that their tireless efforts practising for the performance and hard work planning and organising the event have brightened and touched many lives.

By Sondra Foo, Corporate Communications and Marketing

Photos by Wong Leong Jeam, Volunteer

Accountant Jocelyn De Los Santos had worked till the wee hours of the morning for the month-end closing. Despite having just six hours of sleep, she felt refreshed and energised. 

As the Christmas Celebrations Organising Committee Member from Every Nation Church, Jocelyn was part of the team of dedicated volunteers from Every Nation Church and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) that brought the gift of Christmas cheer and love to the residents and caregivers at Red Cross Home for the Disabled on Saturday, 1 December.

“Though we have our day jobs, each of us contributed his or her expertise to organise the Christmas celebration at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled, to bring happiness and love to the residents and caregivers. We chose to use our spare time to organise the event instead of watching television programmes at home,” shared Jocelyn.

Prior to the event, everyone was assigned different roles based on his or her expertise. For example, a professional architect was given the task of decorating stage props, including a house and a Christmas tree. Others were involved in registration, food preparations, singing, door gifts and games. They had to ensure the games were suited to the residents’ abilities.

On the event day, Singapore Red Cross Council Member Dr Chan Soon Keng thanked the dedicated volunteers from Every Nation Church, HOME and staff of RCHD for organising the Christmas celebration.

“Your presence and the precious gift of your time mean very much to our residents and their caregivers. Although our residents may not be able to respond or reciprocate to your kindness, by your presence you bring smiles to their faces and warm their hearts. It is possible that for days or even weeks after this party, they may remember today because of the joy you brought to them by your care,” said Dr Chan in a speech.

Everyone then crooned to the familiar tunes of “Jingle Bells”, “Feliz Navidad”, “Joy to the World”, “Santa Claus is coming to town”, “We wish you a Merry Christmas”  and “Silent Night”. Several residents joined the carollers onstage, jingling bells in tandem with the beat of the festive tunes and beaming as Santa Claus made hi presence. The volunteers of Every Nation Church also presented a skit on the story of Christmas, entitled “Nativity”.

It was hard work organising the event as it entailed long hours of planning, discussion, and implementation since October. Yet, the motivation of the volunteers to bring joy to the residents kept them going.

“Every volunteer has a story to tell. Do not underestimate the power of something simple. I may not have the wealth but I am rich in terms of love. I want to share my love with other people. It’s not the money, it’s the heart. When you see their smiles, it’s priceless - no money can buy that. It motivates me to do more,” shared Jocelyn.

Sharing the same sentiment, Sisisukiato Choo, Shelter Manager of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said, “We are privileged to be part of this project to be entertaining the residents and bringing joy to them. What we do is a very small part compared to the contribution of the caregivers at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled. The volunteering experience enabled our volunteers to count the little blessings they have in life and not take things for granted.”

Towards the end of the Christmas celebration, RCHD resident Quan Yao waved animatedly at the volunteers who performed, demonstrating his delight.

The enjoyment of the performances also resonated amongst the staff.

“It was a very enjoyable Christmas performance. The residents are very happy,” said Noami Bolisay, a nursing aide at RCHD.

Indeed, all the volunteers will find joy in the knowledge that their months of preparations and efforts have brightened and touched many lives.