Giving in the golden years

by | October 15, 2015

RSVP’s Ngiam Tong Yuen takes home the first volunteerism award for seniors during the annual President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards.


Ngiam Tong Yuen receiving the award from President Tony Tan. From left to right: Mildred Tan, chairman of NVPC; Minister Grace Fu of MCCY; and Melissa Kwee, CEO of NVPC.

Ngiam Tong Yuen, who has served on RSVP Singapore’s Board of Management for over 10 years and is currently the 1st vice-president, received the President’s Award for Senior. This is the first time this award has been given at the annual President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) and with this award, its organiser the National Volunteer & Philanthropy (NVPC) now recognises exemplary giving in all life stages, including youth and adults.

The 75-year-old shared: “I volunteer because I want to give back to the country that has given me so many opportunities, including a scholarship for my tertiary education. I have been much luckier than others and have much to give.”

Though Ngiam has volunteered for a long list of professional bodies, the one organisation that remains close to his heart is RSVP, an organisation of senior volunteers. Its Mentoring Programme, of which Ngiam was chairman for two years, is run in partnership with schools. Through the programme, senior volunteers impart wisdom to the younger generation and ensure the safety of at-risk “latchkey” kids.

As he believes that VWOs should be financially self-sufficient, this resulted in him becoming chairman of RSVP’s social enterprise ProGuide. ProGuide provides reasonably priced consultancy and training services to clients such as government agencies like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SMEs. The profits are then channelled back to RSVP for its community programmes.

Besides volunteering his time, Ngiam also regularly donates to RSVP and other charities such as Singapore Children’s Society, Kidney Dialysis Foundation, Boys’ Town and others.

Sharing about the award, he said that he had to be persuaded to submit his name for it as he felt: “I didn’t think what I do is particularly noteworthy. I just felt that I am doing something that any good citizen would.”

Ngiam added that he was healthy and able, and at the time, had no excuse not to volunteer. “I am really glad that I joined RSVP as it has been a profitable journey for me. I have learned many things, made new friends and did some interesting work.”

He said he is happy to have won the award and has no regrets about the volunteering journey he embarked on – “If I had to do it again, I would do it.”

RSVP’s executive director, Edmund Song shared that the new award Ngiam won is timely. He added: “Ngiam is a fine example of one who serves selflessly and avoids the limelight. The award brings honour not only to him but to RSVP as well. We congratulate him wholeheartedly.”

PVPA honours those who have impacted lives through their generous giving and acts of kindness and compassion. Besides Ngiam, five other awards were given including the President’s Award for Corporate, President’s Award for Non-Profit and President’s Award for Informal Group.



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