The story of how 54-year-old Yvonne Poh transformed personal loss into fiery motivation to give is an inspiring one. She is a full-time accountant and an active Befriender in Methodist Welfare Services’ (MWS) Walk With The Poor (WWTP) programme.
Her seemingly boundless ability to care for the elderly, ill, and weak was honed from young. Ms Poh took care of her critically-ill grandmother and grandfather throughout her early teenage years, and subsequently was caregiver to her own father, cancer-stricken mother-in-law, and later her husband, who lost a 12-year-long battle with Parkinson’s Disease three years ago.
Her positive attitude towards what appeared to be a prolonged bout of personal tragedy is astounding: “I think I am blessed with a special talent for caring for the sick and seniors… I will share with them how I struggle and how God takes care of me. I like to bless them and I know how to console them, I know my strength in this area.”
Actively involved in the Methodist Church of the Incarnation’s Outreach and Social Concerns Ministry (MCIOSCM) and Hokkien Ministry, Ms Poh has served in seven or more different organisations for the past seven years, including St. Luke’s Hospital, Teen Challenge, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree programme, Fei Yue Senior Activity Centre (Teck Whye), as well as MWS.
Her friend and fellow MCIOSCM volunteer Mr Choo* applauds Ms Poh’s tireless service. “Her stamina is admirable and I respect her in many ways; she has a talent for getting people involved,” he said.
Over the years, she has established strong bonds with several of the elderly WWTP beneficiaries living in the rented one or two-room flats at Blk 9 Teck Whye Lane, which is also MCIOSCM’s adopted community. The seniors’ enthusiasm and joy bring her much cheer.
Showing photos of gatherings stored in her phone (such as dance or exercise classes and birthday celebrations), she points out one man who “will always go around telling everybody about upcoming activities and persuade them to come down”. She enthuses: “You might be doing such a small thing, yet they are so happy, you know?”
78-year-old Mdm Sim* is another of Ms Poh’s elderly buddies in the WWTP programme. Living alone, without income, lacking contact with relatives, and with a back deformity, Mdm Sim was at risk of social isolation.
As a way of looking out for her, Ms Poh offered Mdm Sim some housekeeping work a few years ago, and her family fostered a bond with Mdm Sim in the process. “Despite her back, she’s healthy and quite active. We let her do whatever she wanted,” she said. “Actually, my sons were more worried that she would injure herself; I told them: so, you’d have to help her then!”
Presently, Mdm Sim no longer helps out in Ms Poh’s home, but remains a loyal attendee at every gathering or event that Ms Poh is involved in.
Speaking about the dearth of active and regular volunteers to provide much-needed manpower for social outreach, Ms Poh passionately encourages others to commit to volunteerism. “Take on the challenge… All you need is a listening ear. A lot of old folk really need us to support them and talk to them. Bless and be blessed through sincere love. You will learn a lot from the needy.”
At MWS, we currently have needy families awaiting Befrienders. Touch their lives in our Walk With The Poor programme, where financial assistance is given out monthly by Befrienders to the needy in their homes. Your gift of time and effort will bless them with hope and friendship.
*Not their real names.
BEFRIEND * a family in need through the Methodist Welfare Services’ Walk With The Poor programme. Email email@example.com
Picture by Methodist Welfare Services
Adeline Huang is an Executive (Communications and Fundraising) at Methodist Welfare Services, and worships at Christ Methodist Church.