Outreach, Welfare

MWS Empowering Life Awards honours 40 years of “heartwork” in volunteering

MWS Empowering Life Awards
Mr Danny Goh and Mrs Lois Goh, recipients of the MWS Empowering Warmth Award

On 30 July 2021, over a hundred invited guests witnessed the powerful performance of “The Prayer” by 18-year-old award-winning soprano soloist Lauren Yeo. Lauren’s performance was one of the highlights of the inaugural Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Empowering Life Awards (ELA) for volunteers, which was held over Zoom.

The ELA recognises volunteers who have made significant contributions in serving and empowering the disadvantaged and distressed under the care of MWS. The Awards were launched in a special year, MWS’ 40th year of empowering life to the full. MWS was founded in 1981 by a group of young Methodists who were moved by the struggles and hardships that they saw in the community. Two years later, we served our first six elderly residents in the Methodist Home for the Aged Sick. Today, volunteers continue to serve actively in MWS, planting new seeds for generations to come.

Over 70 nominations from MWS’ network of 20 centres and programmes were received for 12 award categories. The awards are named Hope, Strength, Warmth and Positivity in recognition of the volunteers’ efforts in bringing these to the beneficiaries.

One might be surprised that the average age of the seven individual award recipients was 74 years old and 20 award recipients were over 80 years old. It was heartening that our seniors have found a new purpose in volunteering, a strong demonstration that making a positive impact can be done at any age. More than 200 volunteers also received Long Service Awards, including five individuals who were recognised for 40 years of volunteering service!

One such volunteer is 92-year-old Mrs June Cheong, founder of the Sunshine Group, who has been volunteering at MWS nursing homes for the last 40 years. She said, “I recall a resident who was highly critical and did not always get on well with others. But we continued to be patient with her, loved her as God had commanded us to, and showed her how to accept love from others. The MWS Bethany Nursing Home team was also very dedicated in their care for her. Twenty years on, this resident told us she wanted to get baptised. We were overjoyed! This really showed us that God’s love can overcome all obstacles.”

Despite their advanced age and physical frailty, Sunshine Group never allowed anything to hinder their outreach. Even during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they sent recorded videos to engage MWS nursing home residents.

Mr David Wong, former MWS Chairperson (2011–15), was also honoured with the MWS Empowering Lifetime Award for his years of distinguished service to MWS. David is respected as a visionary and compassionate leader, and whose services to the community and MWS are deeply grounded in his Christian faith. Under his leadership, MWS services grew in breadth and depth.

Patron of MWS, Bishop Dr Gordon Wong of The Methodist Church in Singapore, as well as other sector leaders such as Mr Gerard Ee, Chairman of The Charity Council; Ms Melissa Kwee, CEO of National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre; and Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, CEO of Agency for Integrated Care also took time to grace the occasion. In addition, Bishop Dr Wong, Ms Kwee and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Second Minister for Law, appeared in recorded messages to encourage and thank all volunteers for their services. Music performance by leading not-for-profit Singaporean arts company, The TENG Ensemble, and a tribute video by MWS Staff rounded up the programme for the day.

As Junie Foo, CEO of MWS said in her opening address, “There’s an old African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ These challenging times are a stark reminder that we must go together, and certainly we hope to go far, for another 40 years, God willing.”

As MWS continues to expand to meet the growing needs in the community, many more volunteers will be needed. Keen to get involved? Visit mws.sg to learn more. You can also watch a recording of the ELA on our MWS 40th Anniversary microsite.

Mrs June Cheong, recipient of MWS Empowering Long Service Award (40 Years)
Award-winning soprano soloist Lauren Yeo with her soulful rendition of “The Prayer”
MWS CEO Junie Foo giving her opening address

By the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Communications Team / Photos courtesy of MWS