87 volunteers were honoured the at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports’ (MCYS) Volunteer Awards 2012 on Friday.
The appreciation event was held at the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay and was themed “Rays of Hope”.
Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Mr Chan Chun Sing who was guest-of-honour at the ceremony praised the volunteers’ dedication towards helping the disadvantaged and the vulnerable in the community.
Addressing the guests, Mr Chan said their efforts have “provided comfort and relief, and illuminated the lives of the less privileged, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable”.
The ceremony honoured volunteers who had served in many different capacities.
59 people received their long service awards, 24 individuals received recognition as “Friends of MCYS” and three recipients were crowned “MCYS Outstanding Volunteers”.
The highlight of the ceremony was the award for “MCYS Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award” which was presented to Dr Sylvia Goh for her lifelong efforts to provide a comprehensive network of services to foster children and foster parents.
For the past 45 years, paediatrician Sylvia Goh has been a volunteer on the Fostering Scheme’s Committee.
She’s been tracking the progress of children under foster care.
Her efforts contributed to the fostering scheme which grew to include catering to abandoned babies and to the setting up of a specialised Fostering Unit.
Under the scheme, more children were able to receive foster placements. A support group and a 24-hour support hotline for foster parents were also established.
She would have continued volunteering if not for a spinal injury that occurred recently.
She said: “I cannot see a child suffer just because of external circumstances. Either they are not loved by their own parents, abused. Or they are disabled, disadvantaged or something. And we should help where we can help.
“And in those days, very few people, very few organisations, took care of all these type of children. So when this fostering scheme and all came out, it was just my cup of tea.”
The grandmother of three said her motivation comes from saving children who could have fallen through cracks in the system.
She shared: “There was this baby, she was rejected. Because she came from a disadvantaged family. We managed to get her a very good foster mother who gave her all the love and care that her own birth mother couldn’t give. And she really thrived. She grew up very well. In her ‘A’ levels, she got all As. If she wasn’t given a chance, you think she will be where she is today?”
Dr Goh said the fostering scheme is still relevant.
And she wants to appeal to more members of the public to come forward and be foster parents.
Currently, there are 330 foster children and 237 parents registered under the scheme.
To date, more than 5,000 children have benefitted from the Fostering scheme since it started in 1956.
This article is an adaption from articles in CNA and ST