A volunteer wearing different hats

Meet Royston Tan. He’s an Associate Division Director of a real estate company and volunteer at Singapore Red Cross; one who takes the notion of an “active volunteer” to another level.

Royston Tan is no stranger to volunteering. The 39-year-old has actively taken part in community initiatives and various grassroot organisations since 2009. In 2016, he decided to add another feather in his cap when he registered as a volunteer with the Singapore Red Cross (SRC). He wanted to play a more active role in the community with an organisation that is involved in humanitarian work.

Since his enrolment, Royston has been volunteering his time and first aid skills at events supported by SRC’s South West District. His tireless contributions and service to the community did not go unnoticed. In 2018, Royston was appointed the Vice Chairman of the SRC’s South West District, Jurong Division. Since then, his main responsibilities have primarily focused on recruitment, training and managing SRC volunteers.

“I was very delighted to see people from all walks of life coming together to volunteer with the clear objective of helping vulnerable families tide through this pandemic,” Royston says.

It was this same spirit that drove Royston to action when the COVID-19 hit Singapore. In 2020, he stepped up to pack and distribute customised care packages to beneficiaries in Singapore’s heartlands. Royston and his South West District team members also spearheaded the packing and distribution of face masks, hand sanitisers, and other daily essential items to families in need.

Challenges from COVID-19

But the pandemic has not made Royston’s work easy. He recalls how stringent movement restrictions during Singapore’s “circuit breaker” period between April and early June 2020 proved to be a stumbling block to the work he and his fellow volunteers do. They prevented the team from functioning at its full capacity. However, Royston and his team “collaborated with other non-profit organisations and committed longer hours within a smaller group to minimise community interaction”. Their collective efforts ensured that volunteering would still be a safe yet fulfilling experience for everyone.

Juggling work, family and volunteering

But volunteering entails juggling various aspects of one’s life. As a self-employed individual, Royston spends long hours prospecting his business and assisting clients in their real estate needs. Adding volunteering to the mix means he is engaged in heavily time-consuming commitments.

However, Royston believes in allocating and prioritising his time to establish a healthy balance. He is also thankful for a supportive wife who manages their family of six, which includes their four children. 

Volunteering enriches lives

To Royston, volunteering is a meaningful journey that has enriched his life with valuable insights.

“Volunteering makes me a more appreciative individual,” he says, adding that it enables him to “see things in different perspectives and develop my problem-solving capabilities.”

Another reason that keeps him going is the improvements in the lives of the people he serves. He encourages others to follow suit because volunteerism is a culmination of everyone’s efforts that will contribute to a better society.

“As communal beings, we should help one another within our capacities, if time permits,” Royston says.

By Shayene Gilflores Winfred, Volunteer
Copyedited by Keval Singh, Volunteer


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