“One of the first elderly residents “(‘Uncle Tan’) I visited lives with his helper, as his wife was recently diagnosed with dementia. He had reluctantly brought her to live in a nursing home so she could be cared for by professional healthcare workers. It was truly a tough decision for him to make.
Uncle Tan’s care and love for his wife goes so far that he refuses to go for his family’s reunion dinners because he can’t bear to eat the well-prepared delicacies while his wife is stuck in a nursing home with perhaps less tasty meals. As he was talking to us, I could clearly see his eyes welling up…
Uncle Tan told me that he continues to visit his wife daily, without fail.”
– One of our volunteers, reflecting on his card distribution with Montfort GoodLife! and Hey, You’ve Got Mail!
At HYGM!, our main mission is to alleviate social isolation among seniors. Social isolation is a quiet yet concerning issue in Singapore, and was aggravated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors are a vulnerable group and more often than not, they stay alone or away from their families which may lead to heightened loneliness and can affect their mental and physical health. Through handwritten cards, we hope to spark a moment of joy and brighten up their day and remind them that they are not alone. We believe that every small effort by our volunteers can create a huge impact.
Our volunteers hand write and decorate each and every card with love to seniors residing at our partner beneficiaries. Occasionally, we have card distribution events where volunteers come down to personally deliver the cards to seniors staying at their own flats. These distributions provide volunteers an opportunity to interact with seniors and get to know a little more about them. With the aim of reducing social isolation among seniors, we hope that these interactions can enable our volunteers to learn to reach out and care for seniors around them.
Other than our usual volunteer sessions and distributions, our side-project, Scrapbook Edition, encourages volunteers to personally head down to our partner nursing homes or senior activity centres and interact with seniors there. During the course of the program, volunteers are attached to a senior and together, they will co-create a scrapbook. Our scrapbook functions as an icebreaker to provide an avenue for meaningful conversations. This enables volunteers to build friendships with a senior and possibly form long-term relationships with them. Volunteers in Scrapbook Edition engage with seniors for a minimum of 4 sessions over the course of 1-2 months depending on our partner organization. The end-product of the personalized scrapbook serves as a physical memento for the senior to keep and reminisce.
FAQ on Volunteering (as of June 20th 2021)
How else can I help other than purchasing cards and donating?
You can volunteer with us! Our team is always looking to expand our volunteer base. Activities include making cards with other volunteers, or contributing your skills such as designing, drawing or dancing! Click here to learn more and sign up to be a volunteer with us!
I signed up as a volunteer but its been a while and I have not received any news, when will you get back to me?
Due to the high volume of sign-ups, it takes awhile for us to process each application! We usually process volunteer applications once a month.
I do not have a Telegram handle. How will you contact me?
As Telegram is our main medium for volunteer announcements, please download Telegram and send us your telegram username e.g @herberthygm. It is difficult for us to coordinate on other platforms, we hope you understand!
How do I get VIA hours from volunteering with HYGM?
First, please seek approval from your teacher-in-charge that volunteering at HYGM! is a VIA activity that aligns with your school. We would like to clarify that HYGM! is NOT a charity organization. We are a non-profit ground up initiative. While we are able to provide an official documentation of your VIA hours spent volunteering with us, it is ultimately the school’s decision to approve this documentation.
In addition, if there are any school forms that require our comments/feedback for your VIA submission, please hand it to us during our volunteer sessions.
How do I get this official documentation under HYGM?
We will provide VIA forms for you when you come down to our sessions. Alternatively, you can also print out the form here.
Please do not lose this form as it will be the main record for all your hours. At the end of every volunteer session, approach any one of our committee members to endorse your hours.
I have previously volunteered at HYGM! before the VIA forms were rolled out on 27th March 2021. Will I be able to claim my hours from the previous months?
Unfortunately, as there is no proper form previously to document your hours, we are unable to officially validate your past contributions.
Would it be possible if I could engage with you on my school VIA project?
Yes. Please send us an email at [email protected] on your proposal and we will view accordingly. Do make sure that you have your school’s approval first before approaching us.
Please include the following details in your proposal:
Tell us more about yourself (Age, affiliated organisation/schools if any, number of team members
If you are an educator, you can let
If you are a student,
Duration of commitment
What can you contribute
Who do you plan on engaging (elderly, your schoolmates, general public, etc) and the size of your target audience
Where did you hear about us from
Any ideas you have in mind
Are there any examples of ideas that we can refer to?
Here are some examples that you can gain reference from. Of course, we strongly encourage original ideas as well.
Adhoc Project Idea Bank
Student-led mini booth (Sec-JC) Start up your own booth in school to engage your schoolmates to write DIY cards to seniors of your choice - we can help facilitate this process!
Letterbox for Student-DIY cards (Pri-JC) Write heartwarming messages and handmake Hey, You Got Mail! cards for seniors and deposit them into a letterbox to be sent to seniors!
Mosaic Art (Preschool-JC) Together as a class, create a mosaic piece using postcards to liven up a senior activity centre.
Zoom Engagement with Elderly (Upper sec- JC) Interested in building conversations with seniors? Let us know what activities you’d like to do with them over Zoom and with our knowledge, experience and resources, we can help train you and even facilitate this process!
Activity Funsheet (Pri) A simple drawing/writing reflection activity with Herbert our mascot! Suitable for young kids to learn about gratitude and reflection!
Story For A Story Essay Writing Contest (Sec-JC)
Write a story about a senior you care about - be it a relative or your neighbour.
Volunteering Opportunities (Distribution) - JC Keen to participate in one of our card distributions? Let us know!
Sharing by Hey, You Got Mail! team - Sec- JC Interested in spreading our message to the cohort? Let us know! We’re most happy to do a presentation about us and the issue of social isolation.
*Do note that the list above is not exhaustive. To everyone, especially youths above 16, we would love to see your own self-initiated ideas. Feel free to edit or come up with a new idea on your own - the more details in your email to us, the better!