Seven recipients honoured at NVPC awards

Mr Chan Chun Sing (L) presenting the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards to Leaena Tambyah.

SINGAPORE: Seven outstanding recipients were recognised at this year’s National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards on Friday afternoon.

The awards was launched by former President SR Nathan in 2004 and presented by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre.

Acting Minister for Community Development Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing presented the awards to organisations and individuals who exemplified the spirit of giving in Singapore.

The Singapore branch of Deutsche Bank AG was awarded the Corporate Philanthropist of the Year Award for its strong commitment to community involvement and long—term partnership with charities.

United Parcel Service Singapore was awarded the Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award. UPS has a number of volunteer programmes, including the annual Global Volunteer Month and the Neighbour—to—Neighbour programme.

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital was recognised as the Public Sector Volunteer of the Year Award for its involvement in community outreach. Staff of the hospital actively raise funds for the KK Hospital Health Endowment Fund.

Boys’ Town and Fei Yue Family Service Centre won the Non—Profit Organisation of the Year awards for Philanthropy Management and Volunteer Management respectively.

Mr Kong Mun Kwong and Mrs Leaena Tambyah were also individually recognised for their volunteer and philanthropic efforts.

Leaena Tambyah

As a teenager, Leaena Tambyah always thought she was going to be an archaeologist.

But that changed when she volunteered at a children’s hospital ward and was telling stories to one boy in particular.

She said: "When it was time for me to leave, he absolutely refused to let me go. He put his arms around me in a scissor grip and he said: ’No, you can’t go! You have to stay here.’ Anyway, I finally managed to persuade him that I need to go, and he let me go."

But Mrs Tambyah did not let go of her passion for helping children with special needs.

She initiated a playgroup for children with multiple disabilities, the Handicapped Children Playgroup, which was awarded the United Nations Community Excellence Award in 1986.

She also introduced a mobile therapy service for students with physical disabilities in mainstream education whose parents could not afford the money or the time to take their children to hospitals for therapy. This is one of the features of the Asian Women’s Welfare Association’s Therapy and Education for Children in Mainstream Education (TEACH ME).

Mrs Tambyah said: "Why not get a van and equip it like a physiotherapy clinic and take it to the children’s homes? And we did just that. And the children made fantastic progress but we came across a stumbling block. The government had introduced COE... We would have had to pay S$22,000 in COE! Which benefactor is going to pay you that money?"

Mrs Tambyah’s fight against this led to the COE exemption scheme, which allows VWOs to be exempted from payment.

The 74—year—old, who is Senior Advisor to Asian Women’s Welfare Association, was given the Special Recognition Award for her efforts to serve children with special needs.

Kong Mun Kwong

68—year—old businessman Kong Mun Kwong has been volunteering for over 30 years.

His first involvement in volunteerism started when he was a student leader. He has also served as chairman of the Changkat Citizen Consultative Committee, and helped to start the Tampines Town Council. He served on the boards of the Home Nursing Foundation, National Trade Union Congress Cooperatives and the Strata Titles Board.

As the chairman of Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), he played an integral role in co—founding the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex—offenders (CARE Network) and helped build the concept for the Yellow Ribbon Project, which gives second chances to ex—offenders.

For Mr Kong, volunteerism means being not only responsible, but consistent.

He said: "Very often, I hear people say: ’I have succeeded. Now I’m giving back to society.’ Personally, I do not subscribe to that line of thinking. I think that charity or volunteerism is an ongoing thing."

Mr Kong was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award, for his dedication in helping ex—offenders.