“Don’t wait until tomorrow, make it happen today.” – A life philosophy that Heartist, Susan Tan, is living right now. A full-time administrator in the social sector, she has been involved in philanthropic activities for the past 10 years. She says, “Wherever help is needed, I will want to be there, on the ground to offer my support in any way possible.”
Susan first got involved in community service during her school days. “We were picking up waste along the shores and organising mini fundraisings,” she says. “It totally changed my perspective of community.”
She adds, “It was an opportunity that brought along a purpose, a sense of awareness to my surroundings and the people around me. I feel involved.”
Her first real volunteering role actually started when she was approached by a friend, to provide learning to the underprivileged children from dysfunctional families. Her role involved weekly visitations to their humble homes, which are nestled within the Whampoa area.
She says, “At the beginning, I was shocked by the state they are living in. I didn’t expect to see families living in such poor living conditions in Singapore.” Recalling from her past experiences as a volunteer, Susan was all the more determined to provide the best that she could offer in giving back to the society.
“What is my hours of contribution compared to their uncountable hours of hardship,” she says. “I might not be well off, but I feel rich in giving. By giving my love and support to the needy, the result is very rewarding and heartwarming which money cannot buy.”
We should be socially aware and involved.
We popped a question to Susan and asked her how she feels about volunteerism in our society today.
“There’s a lack of openness in terms of volunteerism,” she says. “In some areas, there is a tendency to choose, who to help and where to help. It’s like a branding. Support flows in for the favourable, whereas some causes do not receive as much support when it should be.”
She feels “as a nation, one should be aware of what other Singaporeans are facing. Many are not exposed and are very detached with things that are happening on the ground.”
She adds, “Sometimes, we should try to take a step back with more empathy towards our neighbours, friends or even strangers.”
Words for Aspiring Volunteer.
For aspiring volunteers who are starting to be involved, we asked Susan on how she prepare herself as a volunteer.
“When I accept a volunteer role, I will first study the agenda and what beneficiary am I representing,” she says. “I will find out how many hours I have to create an impact.”
Citing the fact that some volunteers might experience a bit of culture shock, such as the patterns and behaviours relating to certain causes. She adds, “There is a need to have a purpose and a need to be ready.”
Susan believes that a beneficiary can feel the sincerity of the giver, when the right attitude and sincerity are being offered.
“A volunteer’s presence is very crucial to a beneficiary. We are like the light, the company, and it means a lot to them.” she says.