I came to know about Willing Hearts from my customers who stop by the cafe for drinks and cakes as a form of reward everytime they volunteer there. I have been telling myself I need to check it out one day and finally got down to it just this recent Tuesday. I seriously didn’t know what to expect but was told that you can come and go anytime, so I arranged with some friends and my part-timers to go lend a hand. One of my friends, Joe, is actually someone whom I know from some online gaming and Facebook, and finally met him over volunteer work!
When we arrived there, there is one lady who is a sergeant major-like commanding everyone to do this and that. This lady, Elsie, is the centre nerve of the whole operations. How many packets of food to go out, how much food to prepare, deliveries, etc., all falls under her jurisdiction. At first impression, anyone would definitely feel she’s being rude or autocratic, but believe me, she only mean well. After surviving 4 hours there, I totally understand why she has to be who she has to be. Imagine this; 5000 packets of food, distribute to many collection centres in Singapore, those in town needs to be before 11am so that the volunteer drivers will not have to pay for ERP charges, cooking of so much food, organizing the volunteers from all walks of life, and mind you, not all are like me trained in kitchen and food prep, some have to teach some more. So that’s why, she has to be loud to be heard. I managed to talk to her a bit amidst the rush packing and scooping rice, Elsie is truly a lovely lady inside, loves joking a little, full of love and compassion.
There are other full-time volunteers there too. If you look around, they are mostly in their 60s and 70s. Elsie is 70+ years old, there’s an Anna who is 75. Tony, the founder of Willing Hearts is also that age group. But they are keeping this mission going, with so many willing hearts to help contribute. The volunteers don’t just end here, the delivery drivers (mostly cab or commercial delivery drivers) all chip in to help in the distribution. Not forgetting the collection centres, there are volunteers there too. They have to bring food to the homes of the old folks who have walking difficulties, within their area of distribution. While I was there, I was seriously overwhelmed by the contribution of these people, the love they have for helping the community, DAILY and ZERO PROFIT. I was even more touched when Anna was thanking us for coming to help despite our rest day, and I caught some tears welling up in her eyes. This shows that they are really short handed and our help has moved her in some way. So I’m planning to go again next week.
Tips for first timers through my experience:
1. Be prepared to sweat and toil. No fan or aircon, no chance to sit. My first 2 hours was ok cos very hectic. Last 2 hours became very slow cos the packing is like never ending. I was seriously aching on the neck and back cos of my height and weight. So be mentally prepared.
2. Be prepared to multi-task. One moment you might be topping up the dishes, packing food, scooping rice or veg, and for Joe and me, we moved quite a bit of rice and top up for the assembly lines. So no fixed positions.
3. Wear thin tops and shorts. Trust me those will help in ventilation. Shoes with better grip are importantly cos oil and water on the floor is dangerous.
4. Stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water and put beside you or go take some refreshments if need to at the back of the kitchen.
5. Leave your kids at home unless they are old enough to take care of themselves. Don’t give more problems to the hectic schedule already.
6. Make sure you have a hearty breakfast before going there to help. Your next meal is probably after 12.30pm when all the food are packed… Unless of course you’re leaving earlier.
7. Anyone is welcome to help! Even tourists visiting Singapore! Every help is needed! A drop of water forms an ocean!
Check out the pics below with the descriptions below. Address and details at the bottom of this blogpost.
Ok that’s all for the pics, cos no time to really go around snapping. If I am considered as an influencer, which obviously I do not like to be associated with that term, I would like to use my limited network to reach out for more people to help at Willing Hearts. So how can you help?
1. Donation. That’s if you have spares.
2. Help out any day when you’re free or off. They are there as early as 5am to cook but actual packing starts at 7am. Usually last till 12pm. Of course you can go off anytime, just help as much as you can. After lunch usually they prepare the cutting of vegetables and meat.
3. Delivery Drivers. If you own a car and wish to deliver to a location you frequent, you can swing by, pick up the lunch boxes and drop off at the collection centres.
Add: 11 Jalan Ubi Blk 6, #01-51 Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore 409074
Tel: +65 6476 5822