Mr Good Deeds
There is no denying that this man is an ambassador for volunteerism and enjoys helping people.
BY: Eleanor Yap
Hoon Thye Yong’s face is recognised in many organisations. Every Mondays, he makes his usual rounds at Ang Mo Kio – Thye Hua Kwan Hospital. As a volunteer for the hospital for seven years, he rolls the “Delight Cart” around the wards (above), passing biscuits, sweets, cakes or other light snacks to patients and their families. He shared that donations are welcome as the money goes into the hospital’s Patient Welfare Fund.
Volunteering in his blood
His volunteering activities, however, doesn’t stop there. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can find the 82-year-old at RSVP Singapore – The Organisation of Senior Volunteers, happily going about his administration duties. This afternoon was no different as he was busy registering a senior to one of the many courses at the non-profit organisation.
And, once a month, he is down at his community centre, sitting on the Senior Citizens’ Executive Committee and helping to bring his community’s seniors on various activities. The grandfather of one has been volunteering for 24 years and his efforts were finally noticed by The Straits Times’ Stomp, a citizen-journalism and social-networking website and he was one of three individuals given the Good Deeds Award and the oldest.
As other seniors question why he volunteers as there is no money involved, that has not stopped Hoon from doing things differently. “Volunteerism is in my blood. I want to help people. It gives me a reason to wake up each morning,” he said. He has done many volunteering activities throughout the many years including being a mentor for four years at Ang Mo Kio Primary School and helping students from single families, or who have parents who are working or are divorced, with their homework. He explained that he could not continue his work there as his work at RSVP overlapped.
He has also been a Changi Senior Ambassador, a programme that was initiated by RSVP and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, where he helped to answer queries from tourists and sometimes helped them with their problems. However, he lamented that due to his long travelling hours to and from his home all the way to the airport and later, standing for four hours, he had to call it quits after a year. “I enjoyed doing it but my leg didn’t. When I stand too long, I can’t bend my knee,” said Hoon, who has osteoarthritis for 10 years and takes glucosamine daily.
He added that to do this volunteering work, it is important to be fit. That is why he hits the gym three times a week for over an hour each time, and brisk walks twice a week in the park in the evenings. At the gym, he does bicep curls and chest fly exercises with dumbbells. He also uses the lats pulldown and the leg raise machine. He happily showed off his muscle on the right side and as this writer can attest, they were definitely muscles! “I want to be fit and not flabby!” he said, sporting a pedometer on the side of his belt, which has already clocked in less than 6,000 steps today. “I have been mostly in RSVP from 9am to 3pm,” explained Hoon of his low number. “I am going brisk walking later.”
Hoon, a retired supervisor in the Public Utilities Board’s (PUB) Electricity Department, started going to the gym only at the age of 70. “My friend started going to the gym at age 65 and I thought to myself that if he could do it, I could too! I laughed at him initially,” he explained. “You have got to do what you can. There is no need to carry heavier weights when you can’t manage them.” With all his consistent training, he said he has benefited with an increased muscle mass, and he feels more healthier and is able to keep up with his busy volunteering schedule.
So when will he likely stop volunteering? “If I feel I can’t contribute any longer, I will stop. I want to do it as long as I can,” said Hoon. “I really enjoy doing volunteer work. It gives my life meaning. When I go to the hospital, the patients are happy to see me. When I was at the hospital initially, I was helping the therapists rehabilitate patients and it was a wonderful sight to see them improve.”
Hoon is a shining example that age shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you want to do.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Ang Mo Kio – Thye Hua Kwan Hospital’s publication)