December Special: Volunteer Feature
The SCWO has had a consistent stream of volunteers over the years that it has been active with many of them helping out with our New2U Thrift Store and Star Shelter. This year, we thought it was only right to feature some of our awesome volunteers in our newsletter.
These women have been with us for varying lengths of time, the longest being 20 years, but we are equally grateful to all of them who have chosen to take the time out of their week to be with us. Thankfully, we were able to catch up with some of them to ask them about their motivations for volunteering with us.
Tan Joon Lin- 20 years of Volunteering Service with New2U Thrift Shop
Joon Lin has been volunteering with the New2U thrift shop since 2001. Having been with SCWO for 20 years, Joon Lin has seen and been part of many developments in the New2U thrift shop. As a team coordinator, she enjoys her work of managing the shop on Tuesdays and mingling with her team members.
Over the years, Joon Lin has seen many volunteers come and go. She still keeps in touch with some of them via email. She also keeps a collection of fond memories, pictures, postcards and emails from her volunteer buddies. As a pioneer volunteer, Joon Lin also has knowledge of the history of New2U and its opening.
Joon Lin was introduced to New2U through work. As she learnt more about SCWO’s activities and cause, she was determined to contribute and do her part to help and empower women in need.
Joon Lin truly enjoys her time with New2U and even comes down on her off-days to meet and chat with volunteers from other teams. She especially loves the Kopitiam gatherings that her team has after closing shop, during the pre-covid days.
She shared that bazaars are one of her favourite things about New2U. Seeing the profit they make at the end of the day and knowing that it will be used for a good cause inspires and motivates her to continue volunteering.
She occasionally encounters rude or unreasonable customers, but Joon Lin’s passion for helping and bringing happiness to those in need helps her look past those struggles. When asked why volunteering at the New2U thrift shop and SCWO was important to her, she said “I am [a] woman also”.
SCWO applauds her empathy, patience and commitment to her role of 20 years. Dedicated volunteers like Joon Lin have kept the thrift shop running since its opening in May 2000.
Maria Alvie Constantino – Most Number of Hours Clocked in 2021
Alvie joined SCWO in November 2020. She always had a strong desire to volunteer and give something back to the community. However, as a mother to a 6-year-old boy and working full time, it was always difficult to find the time. The pandemic taught her that she should make time to do things she loves. Alvie made it a point to choose causes that are close to her heart. As a strong supporter of women’s empowerment, SCWO resonated with her.
The fulfilment she gets from supporting a cause that is close to her heart motivates her to continue volunteering even during the pandemic.
Alvie works with the PopStrings team to create braided bracelets and content for their website. During her first weeks of volunteering, she was invited to observe a braiding session where residents and beneficiaries made beautiful accessories. Although she did not know anything about braiding, she saw the amount of effort and care that volunteers and residents put into the session and was deeply inspired to continue volunteering.
Amidst the pandemic, PopStrings sessions have ceased. However, her team still meet online to discuss ideas and plans. With a keen eye for detail, Alvie takes pictures of the accessories and handles the group’s social media account to ensure consistency in branding. She hopes to do justice and bring life to the pieces, which can be challenging at times.
In 2021, Alvie has clocked more than 800 volunteering hours! We applaud her hard work and dedication and are grateful for her precious time and efforts to support our cause.
Deepali Bhatia – 5 years of Volunteering Service
When Deepali heard about the New2U Thrift Shop, from a previous member of the SCWO board, she realised it served all the global goals she cares about, such as sustainability and women empowerment. It would also enable her to meet and work with a wonderful team and make judicious use of her time. She did not hesitate to sign up after that and was quick to join the Monday New2U shop team.
The Monday team has always been dedicated and is looking for ways to help out and make the shop a better experience for everyone, and ensuring that all connected to the shop in any way take away the most from it. Working with this team has been the best part of her time spent at New2U. This team has now become a big group of like-minded friends, that she could not have met otherwise. This motivates her to come back every Monday and continue her volunteering service.
Over the years, the volunteers have seen a lot of people come into the shop. Deepali is often inspired by the stories of various social workers who come in and shop for less privileged children in our neighbouring countries. The best part of the whole transaction is when the entire team of volunteers gets together to help these amazing people select and take home the best for these kids. Sometimes we even get to hear names of kids who would like a particular book or toy.
Due to the closure of the thrift shop Deepali and her team aren’t able to do much, out of concern for not only themselves and their families, but for the entire community as well. This has affected the shop tremendously as people are hesitant to buy pre-loved items. She hopes that as more people are vaccinated, the shop can operate at a pre-pandemic rate soon.
According to Deepali, volunteering completes her. She was inspired by the words of Dalai Lama “We are all part of human society, so the purpose of our lives is not to make trouble, but to serve others in any way we can. We’re all driven by self-interest to some extent, but cultivating concern for others is a wise way of fulfilling our own self-interest.” For Deepali, the little time and effort that spends giving back, help her justify her presence on Earth.
When asked what she finds most challenging about volunteer work, she says “The most challenging and trying part of volunteering to work at new2u are interactions with people who forget compassion. Such people need to understand that all their contributions are going for charity. If these people are really needy – our volunteers may even sometimes be willing to pay on behalf of the needy.”
Deepali started her journey with SCWO in 2016. We are thankful to her for her precious time and amazing efforts to keep our thrift shops running in her service of 5 years. So the next time, you drop by, do look out for her and say hi!