Photo credit: RSVP Singapore

I want you to move it #move8.

I was catching up with friends, and chatting about communities who would be most affected by global pandemics such as COVID-19. I decided to delve into researching about seniors and what was being done in the region and stumbled upon a truly heart warming story to share.

Senior Volunteerism by RSVP Singapore

RSVP Singapore is an organisation setup in 1998 with a vision to make every senior a volunteer! It is an Institution of Public Character and the National Centre of Excellence for Senior Volunteerism under the patronage of Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore.

If you’ve visited Singapore, you’ll notice many of its public events involve seniors and it’s a lovely and refreshing note to see people from all walks of life, contributing their time and playing a role in society. In Singapore, seniors as young as 55 years can enjoy discounts and offers from the various merchants. I found a useful link compiling savings here. There’s also reference to the Pioneer Generation, which denotes those who are aged 70 and above in 2019 who obtained Singapore citizenship on or before 31 December 1986).

On the RSVP Singapore website, seniors were invited to join and sign-up for the following:

  • Befriending
  • Episodic volunteering
  • Guiding
  • Training
  • Retire with a purpose
  • Social enterprise

RSVP has a clear mission and that is to develop senior volunteers and provide meaningful opportunities to serve the needs of the community. They do this by working with various partners to create volunteering opportunities to allow new and would-be volunteers to have a taste of volunteering. This movement, called Senior Volunteer Week (SVW), has grown from 30 activities involving over 1,000 volunteers in 2012 and stretched to a full month’s celebration from 2015 on.

What’s even more heartwarming is their Facebook page, which has about 3,300 odd followers. It shares that they now have 2,500 volunteers serving more than 200,000 beneficiaries each year including the mentally disadvantaged, at-risk children from low income families, and socially isolated seniors through its community service programmes.

A Facebook video response about mask distribution exercise by the Punggol 21 Community Club is embedded video below. For an external link, click here.

Besides community outreach, the RSVP group is also proactive in another kind of sharing, through food! You could visit their website to donate or purchase an RSVP Cookbook – a collection of culinary treasures contributed by its volunteers, many of whom are from the Pioneer Generation, with contribution from guest cooks.

The cookbook offers RSVP volunteers the opportunity to create, to write, photograph and cook the many dishes for the photo shoot. The video above shows how much fun it seemed in putting this book together.

To order, call or email. Note, book is for self-collection only.

On their website, transparency be the key, I read their 2018-2019 annual report and have reached out to RSVP Singapore via email to learn more about how other countries could learn from their experience. I’ll report more once I hear from them.

The efforts of RSVP Singapore ought be lauded as their management and volunteers have worked very hard and smart to bring so much joy to those involved. I believe this is a model that can be undertaken by many more countries so their seniors too can sign on as volunteers and play a role in society. The cook book is also a brilliant idea! Imagine if we were able to document by text, photo and video for every grandma’s recipe – what a treasure trove that would be for not just the family, their community and the nation!

As a carer of my 75-year old mother, I’ve often wondered if there was such a service available – a club where seniors could volunteer and episodic is a good word! Sometimes what’s concerning is to just volunteer once and because of medical conditions or other reasons, a senior person isn’t able to continue physically however the heart is willing. I know my mum has lots more to contribute to society, anecdotes, laughter and amazing customer service skills too! I found a senior’s day care centre, but it’s not something she’d be keen to do because I too would feel awkward being left in a place where I know no one.

A Move8 Walkathon in Kuala Lumpur

And that was one of the driving forces behind the Move8 fitness movement that Nikki and I started in 2018. Our intention was to help move as many humans as we could, once a month, with organised activities. Just this month, we’ve rolled out MOVEAID, a support platform that helps bring together certified professionals and non-certified buddies to provide virtual movement sessions (or anything that requires movement assistance from groceries to medications during COVID-19) to serve our senior citizens who have contributed so much to our lives.

Meanwhile, if you’re home and would like to help a senior in your home moving, here’s a special playlist we’ve put together just for them. Keep on moving #move8.

Move8 Seniors Playlist

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By Jasmine Low

Jasmine Low is intrigued by sound frequencies, loves long walks, hikes and is co-creator of the Move8 fitness movement. She is writing her first book #listenbyheart, a concept presented at a TedX event and wears the hat of co-founder of Experiential Media & Technology group, and this media network, AsiaFitnessToday.

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