Story

Retiring with a purpose

When it comes to giving back, we believe that age is no barrier. This September, in celebration of National Senior Volunteer Month, we speak to two Seniors who have retired with a purpose.

Rangithamalar (Malar) D/O S.A. Kandasamy, 62, mentoring programme volunteer

A golfing accident in 2011 left Malar close to paralysis. Doctors said she had only a 10 percent chance of walking again. But less than a year later, she was doing more than just walking – the energetic lady was dancing at Ang Mo Kio Thye Hua Kwan Community Hospital’s annual Christmas celebration.

The twice daily physiotherapy sessions at the community hospital where she was sent to two months after the accident helped her to heal. But Malar believes the real reason behind her miraculous and speedy recovery was the warmth and support of the community there. Everyone, from the nurses and therapists, to the other patients and their families, encouraged and motivated her every step of the way. 

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Even a little girl, who happened to go to school near the hospital, played a part. Malar recalls, "When she saw me out of my wheelchair and walking for the first time, she had the  biggest smile on her face! It truly warmed my heart.”

The unwavering support from “mere strangers” touched her so much that it marked the start of her volunteering journey. She was determined to help others the way they helped her. She is now an active member of RSVP Singapore, and is currently volunteering for their Mentoring Programme, running activities like storytelling for a group of low-income students.

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To make a difference, Malar believes we first have to take care of ourselves. 

Always look after yourself. Once you do that, you can go out and help somebody.

Malar mentoring programme volunteer

Cindy Liu, 59, cyberguide programme trainer

You’d never guess Cindy’s real age from her youthful demeanor and tech-savviness. She isn’t just versed in basic computer skills, she’s an expert when it comes to using social media. In fact, the 59-year-old has even been putting her tech skills to good use as a volunteer trainer for RSVP Singapore’s Cyberguide Programme.

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Before retiring, Cindy spent 36 years working in IT. These days, she spends most of her time imparting her skills to other seniors. The learning curve is steep for them, and many have never touched a computer before, or are wary of the Internet. But Cindy feels putting in the effort to teach them is more than worthwhile. Helping them overcome their fear of technology and “understand how to protect themselves online” is her greatest satisfaction.

She admits that volunteering isn’t just about helping others. She’s also benefited from the experience, picking up new skills and making new friends.

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Cindy’s advice to anyone, regardless of age, looking to start volunteering: 

Choose your volunteering activity carefully. Start with something that isn’t too foreign to you, so you can ease yourself into it without getting scared away. Hopefully, you’ll be able to make it a lifelong habit!

Cindy Liu Cyberguide Programme Trainer

Only 39% of Seniors (those 55 years and above) volunteer*. This month, do your part to encourage a senior to volunteer. If you know of someone who’s retired, or about to retire, take them to Retire With A Purpose, to find senior-friendly volunteering opportunities and kickstart RSVP Singapore’s National Senior Volunteer Month! 

Special thanks to our volunteer photographer, Elevated Reform, for the beautiful pictures of Malar and Cindy! 

Age is no limit. Find volunteering opportunities, no matter how old you are!

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