Family Service Day: working towards making a difference in the lives of others or helping the environment while spending valuable time with your family. A motto that perfectly encompasses the importance of Family Service at PACE and for UWCSEA communities. Since March 2019, PACE has been regularly organising opportunities once a term for families to volunteer together to perform local service in Singapore, offering a variety of volunteering opportunities from food banks, to beach clean ups to packaging meals at food kitchens. Till date, PACE has already organised Family Service Days in partnership with Willing Hearts, Seven Clean Seas, Habitat for Humanity and Trash Hero Singapore. Says PACE Chairperson Jennifer Lim, “We strongly believe that volunteering together as a family is important in establishing shared values and a united UWCSEA community.”
Adds Neha Patel, Vice-Chair & Head of Fundraising, “Family service has always been an important part of the UWC Mission. Like so many families at UWCSEA, I cherish the idea of getting down and dirty with my girls, putting into practice the family values of compassion and selflessness that we so often preach. Volunteering together as a family provides us a meaningful opportunity to practice teamwork and communication skills. And like so many other parents, I enjoy being outside, away from technology, working towards a common purpose with my increasingly independent children.”
On 10 March last year, PACE organised its first Family Service Day at Willing Hearts. Aptly titled Willing Families for Willing Hearts, it was a 2-hr service opportunity to volunteer with one’s family and the broader UWCSEA community. Based out of the Chai Chee Community Hub, Willing Hearts cooks and distributes approximately 5,000 daily meals to over 40 locations island-wide, 365 days a year. This PACE Family Service Day brought together a group of nine families from both the Dover and East campuses: UWCSEA families that were willing to get up before the crack of dawn on a Sunday; UWCSEA families that were willing to work hard from 6:30am - 8:30am for service to their community; UWCSEA families that were sometimes outside of their comfort zone in unfamiliar territory and working alongside strangers to pack 500 boxed meals together, dish out porridge, and distribute the packed bags to HDB communities. The youngest volunteer, Ayanna Beck, a K2 student at Dover enthusiastically repeated that ‘it was the best morning ever.’ Inessa Patel, a G2 student at East said she “enjoyed packing food because I liked working in a packing line with my friends.”
The next Family Service Day collaboration saw 34 students, parents and teachers (again from both campuses) come together to participate in PACE’s Habitat for Humanity’s “Unlitter the Red Dot” campaign www.habitat.org.sg/unlitter. “In a little over one hour, our teams of volunteers picked up nearly 25kg of trash. Everything from cigarette butts to q-tips to plastic bottles were unearthed from under bushes, benches and trees, and were collected in reusable bags made by women in Cambodia in connection with the program Stitch in Time. From time to time, a resident or employee of the housing complex would call out their appreciation or stop to say hello to the young kids earnestly working in their community spaces. It was a perfect ‘UWCSEA morning’ and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve spent a few hours doing good – lasted with all of us well into the rest of the weekend – powerful and sustainable happiness, shares Neha.
Another UWCSEA Dover mum Natasha Thomas who participated in the Habitat for Humanity cleanup said, “Just wanted to let you know that the event has inspired Yohaan to live his life differently and it makes my heart explode with pride when I see him notice trash around the city and use his own initiative to help. Yesterday, we went for a walk/run around Sentosa and he decided to stop and pick up the loads of bottles and rubbish on the rocks!”.
Finally, at the PACE Family Service Day – Clean up a Beach event, Neha and her seven-year-old daughter volunteered to participate as “Trash Heroes” in a beach clean-up with Trash Hero Singapore, along with a few East Campus families to join them. The group spent two hours cleaning up an incredibly dirty section of the Yishun Dam, up near Seletar, pulling out bottles, plastic bags and discarded lighters from the sand. “With every incoming ocean wave, despite our most fervent efforts, there was more trash on the beach to be collected, a stark reminder of how important it was to reduce, recycle, reuse and refuse single-use plastic. In two hours, alongside 30 other volunteers, we collected 854.5 kg of trash. I imagine there was easily ten-fold that amount remaining on the beach after we left,” says Neha. Keeping up with the initiative, PACE has also collaborated with their local service partner Seven Clean Seas to clean up the beach at Changi Coast Walk in the past.
Want to get involved in the next PACE Family Service Day? You can find out more information about PACE here. If you have a Family Service Day idea for us, please email Neha Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, stay in the loop with PACE newsletters and check out the video of the latest PACE event here. Keep your eyes peeled for the next upcoming PACE Family Service Day. See you there!