A simple good deed
Former Gerontological Society of Singapore president sets up a new fund to benefit the elderly, an area that remains close to his heart.
BY: Henry Lim
My wife, Alice Lim (pictured above with Henry), was a midwife nurse by training. She became a full-time homemaker after the birth of my second son. When the kids grew up, she signed up to be a volunteer with the then Ministry of Social Welfare. She was assigned to a children’s home at Eunos. She formed a strong and enduring bond with several of the children there and also with some members of the staff. One of the girls became a god-daughter to her. My wife told me that those were among her happiest days.
She slowed down her volunteer work when she developed a hearing disability and had some health problems. But she continued in her own way to help the less fortunate. She always had a soft spot for the old and the foreign worker.
My wife passed away after a severe bout of illness in March 2010. We were married for 55 years. I was touched by the message one of the girls she had looked after as a volunteer many years ago sent – “My condolences to the family of Aunty Alice Lim. Am sorry and sad to hear of her demise. Just want to say that she will always be in my heart and my mind. She has shown one little girl a whole lots of love and kindness when she needed it. God bless her”. My sons and I decided that the modest estate that my wife left behind should be used to help others. This was how the idea of the Alice Lim Memorial Fund came about.
I have, after my retirement, been involved in volunteer work in the area of the aged for over 25 years. In 1986, together with like-minded souls, we set up the Gerontological Society of Singapore to promote greater awareness and understanding of issues on ageing in society. So for practical reasons of personal familiarity and knowledge, I decided that the main, though not exclusive, focus of the Alice Memorial Fund should be on the elderly. The criteria is broadly to be of benefit to the elderly. To-date, we have disbursed or committed funding support of over $170,000 to various initiatives. An example of these initiatives is the sponsorship of a two-year research study of 200 aged participants on dementia and its related issues by a NUH gerontological research team and the Presbyterian Community Services at Jurong Point. Other initiatives have been one-off events or the provision of direct services. Presently, one of the areas which we are exploring is in the area of caregiver training and support.
The fact is there will always be many worthy and deserving efforts. I wish we could support all but that would not be possible. The Fund is a private one and resources will be limited. Hopefully we can make available $200,000 annually for several years. What are the long-term plans for the Fund? I am 84 years old; I like to keep things simple at my age. So as far as the Fund goes, nothing grand, nothing strategic – just use it to lend a helping hand when we can to whoever we can for as long as we can. In the process, we hope that this will be of benefit whether immediately or otherwise, to people in need, especially the elderly.
What do I think if others do the same thing and set up such funds? I am sure I am not the first to do this. And I am sure that like those before me, I would be only too happy if others choose to use whatever resources they can share, big or small, to help others. The most valuable legacy anyone can leave behind are the positive ripples that a simple good deed can often inspire or influence in the lives of many others.
Henry Lim, 84, is the former president of the Gerontological Society of Singapore. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Council for Third Age.