The PACE HCA Volunteer Programme - nine years old and still going strong
By Rachelle Gaa, PACE Outreach Chair
The Parents’ Action for Community and Education's (PACE) local outreach programme commenced on May, 23 2008 with a dozen parent volunteers chaperoning patients on an outing to Changi Terminal 3. Later in June 2008, PACE begun its regular volunteer sessions at the HCA Day Hospice. In 2016, the programme entered its ninth year of service. To this day, Leng Holz, one of the original volunteers still visits with the current PACE group and another original constituent Ravina Kirpalani, maintains regular attendance.
PACE HCA organises semi-monthly visits to the HCA Day Hospice Centre at 12 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore. For busy UWCSEA parents, this is the ideal volunteer opportunity; volunteers are given the flexibility to come when they have time to spare and to stay as long as they can. Visits are usually from 10am to 12noon on every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, following the school calendar.
HCA Hospice Care’s goal is “to add life to the days of patients with life-limiting illnesses. Not days to life.” In keeping with the same goal, PACE strives to bring joy to each of the residents during our visits.
Apart from befriending patients, our visits entail providing entertainment. We have a regular roster that includes various groups that have been our long-standing partners. These include the American Women Associations International Choir, Yue Yun Xuan - a Cantonese Opera group, Rose Borromeo flamenco dancers, and Jitterbugs Swingapore (an international award winning dance group composed mostly of 7 year old kids) - to name a few. Occasionally, we endeavor to hold arts and craft activities at the hospice. We organise an annual field trip. We invite yoga instructors. And we celebrate various festive occasions at the hospice namely: Deepavali; Christmas; and Chinese New Year.
During the 2015/2016 school year, the annual HCA Day Hospice outing included a guided tour of the new Sports Hub venue. A record number of 32 parents volunteered to accompany one patient each around the various facilities within the Sports Hub complex.
This year, one of our events was led by a group of Japanese mums who generously donated their time and resources to conduct a sushi making workshop. It was a rousing success that was very fulfilling for both volunteers and patients. We are hoping to introduce more craft activities in the future as a form of occupational therapy for the patients.
Outside of normal volunteer hours, one recent memorable event was the book launch of one of the HCA patients, Jimmy Tam Min Yeong. To commemorate 90th birthday, Jimmy's church published his autobiography 'My Colourful Life'. A few of the regular PACE HCA volunteers took the time out of their busy Sunday schedules to help Jimmy celebrate this event. As a volunteer, we build meaningful relationships with the HCA patients that we value greatly.
The PACE HCA volunteer programme provides parents the opportunity to become involved in Service - one of the key components of the UWCSEA learning programme. As someone who has been an active volunteer in the past five years, I can personally say that the rewards and the fulfillment from this local service are immeasurable.
Sign up for the mailing group to receive detailed invites to our various visits.
Offer to lead a session - organise a craft session or share a particular talent or passion (e.g. we had a group of UWCSEA Dover mums hold a recorder ensemble session last year)
Help connect PACE to other performers who can generously donate an hour of their Friday schedule to entertain our patients.
We just launched a new programme - Share a Dish - and we are requesting dishes (or even the entire lunch meal) contributions during our visit days. This is the perfect service opportunity to those who are time-strapped but would like to give back.