Features, Highlights

WANTED: 1,600 Befrienders to visit chronically poor families

MCS 125th Anniversary: Community Outreach Project

THE METHODIST WELFARE SERVICES (MWS) NEEDS 1,600 more Befrienders urgently to disburse funds to chronically poor families and to visit them.

To date, almost 800 volunteers from Methodist Churches all over Singapore have committed to visit these families under e Methodist Church in Singapore’s 125th Anniversary Community Outreach Project, once a month for a year to bless them with a cheque for S125 each time.

Church members have generously contributed almost $1.5 million so far to the project which is enough to bless almost 1,000 families. However, the MWS needs 1,600 more volunteers to disburse the funds and to visit the families in pairs.

Ms Jenny Bong, Group Executive Director of the Methodist Welfare Services, the administrator of the project, said: “ These families need more than just financial aid. When your income and expenditure do not tally, it creates some mental stress. These chronically poor families often worry about not being able to pay their bills and the accumulation of arrears. In addition, most of them have low social support.

“By building a relationship with the families, the Befriender can offer a listening ear. We can send them the $125 by mail or GIRO but that really will have a lot less impact.”

Befrienders have begun visiting the chronically poor families since April and the experiences have been both enthusiastic and encouraging. No befriending experience is needed – anyone can be a Befriender, as small gestures of kindness are all that are needed.

Befriender Janice Moh, who worships at Holy Covenant Methodist Church, has visited her appointed family twice, spending not more than 30 minutes each time.

During her past two visits, she would talk to Mdm Toh (not her real name) and her daughter, and understand more about the family’s situation. Mdm Toh and her intellectually-challenged brother live with their retired parents. ey live in a one-room rental flat, do not have any income, and survive solely on food rations and financial assistance schemes. Mdm Toh is the only healthy and mobile member of the family, so she prepares the meals and is the main caregiver.

Mdm Toh and her family are not Christians. ey are very grateful to Ms Moh for the money they receive.

Said Ms Moh: “I recently bought some biscuits for them and they were so happy.”

She added: “I would encourage people to extend a helping hand and invest a little time in these families.”

She firmly believes that more people should come forward so that they can see their lives changed, just like hers did. “I treasure life more. And I experience such joy when I see these families appreciate the smallest of gifts and gestures.

“Don’t give up hope on them. We need to empower them to believe that they’ve got potential to lead better lives. We just need to be patient and start by showing a little love,” she concluded.

Wait no more, many families are in need of befriending.

Will you not extend God’s love and peace by giving two hours of your time a month?

ABCs of Befriending

A. AVAIL YOURSELF – simply sign up on the form provided.
B. BE PRESENT at a two-hour training session. A “Guide to Befriending and Home Visits” will be given.
C. CONTACT the family through the caseworker working with the family and,
D. JUST DO IT – visit the family and bless them with the $125 cheque which you can collect from your church.

Read more about befriending and volunteers’ stories in the July 2010 issue of Uncommon Voices, the official publication of the Methodist Welfare Services, available at your church.