“The greatest gift of all is that you can create happiness and it’s infectious,” says Heartist, Shiyin Liow, an IT Operations Manager working in a real estate investment company.
A self-proclaimed food lover with a real zest for life, Shiyin has developed a sentiment of nostalgia, constantly drawn to capturing nostalgic images using her film camera. She described photography as a possibility for her to take a step back to inhale the presence of a special moment and immerse herself in her surroundings.
Even as a volunteer, she says that one can convey the same sentiment – that the person you help matters to you and you are grateful that they are in your life – by taking a step back to embrace that special connection between you and the beneficiary.
Sharing on her first experience volunteering at a nursing home, she says, “I remember seeing how lonely some of the residents were and I was thinking to myself, how is it that I can make their day better.”
By giving out food, she took the opportunity to create conversations with the residents and her kind gestures helped to strike an instant connection with a grandmother.
“She is such a cute grandma. We were cracking jokes and laughing ourselves silly. I also found out we have a common love for food and we speak the same dialect,” says the bubbly Shiyin.
Until they meet again, Shiyin was heartbroken when she left the nursing home that very day. “When Ah Ma came to me to thank me for the food and company, I almost felt like crying,” she said. “It’s moment like this that drives you to carry on contributing to society, to touch lives.”
She felt that the experience she had then as a young volunteer has made her a better and more caring person. “I realised that connecting with older people is no different than connecting with any stranger. The only difference we may encounter could be a difference in interests, so we may try using safe topics like their family or their hobby to strike up a conversation.”
We should be socially aware and involved.
We asked Shiyin on her views about volunteerism in our society today.
“I feel we can determine the future of our society if we each play a part to share our concern and help make our society more compassionate. We must not lose sight of our virtues and human values,” says Shiyin.
Words for Aspiring Volunteer.
For aspiring volunteers who want to be involved, we asked Shiyin to share with us some of her motivations.
“It’s always good to have ourselves prepared by being informative on the related campaigns and find out more about the beneficiaries whom we are helping,” she said.
“Through volunteering, I feel enriched from what I’ve learned and it’s amazing to discover the strengths we never knew we had,” she beamed. “Stay positive and start sharing your love with those in your life today.”