“Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something”
Ms Tan Wee Ting, who is part of the Volunteer Management team at NKF, feels that working with a team of volunteers and staff who are equally passionate about helping people in need, is truly a privilege. Here, she shares her story on what makes her profession worthwhile and gratifying.
My family was at first apprehensive about my career choice in the social service sector given that Singaporeans typically measure success via financial rewards. But I empathise with their concerns because I have a family to raise, and it was a deviation from my previous career path in the corporate world. That said, the non-financial rewards that I gain from working at NKF is immeasurable.
What inspires me to work with volunteers is the impact that we are able to bring to the community. Volunteers come from different walks of life and bring with them different skill sets when they volunteer with us. Through our volunteers’ dedication and hard work, we are able to provide a variety of programmes and activities to give holistic support to kidney failure patients.
“I am humbled by the passion and commitment of our volunteers, and glad to be part of NKF to journey with patients suffering from kidney failure.“
Motivating and empowering volunteers
My primary role is to manage and coordinate the recruitment, onboarding and engagement of volunteers to support the organisation’s mission of helping kidney failure patients. I am also in charge of the volunteering activities at central zone dialysis centres to facilitate volunteering sessions. I work closely with volunteers to match their interests and availability to the current volunteering opportunities. My team also curates and organises trainings to equip volunteers with the specific skills that they need to be effective in their volunteering duties. The programmes our volunteers provide include befriending, patient escort, patient outings and more. Adapting to the ever-changing needs and demographics of our patients, we constantly strive to improve our volunteer programmes and explore new initiatives with our volunteers.
A challenging environment
One of the biggest challenges we face is volunteer attrition. Many volunteers have other commitments in life like work, studies and family, which compete with their commitment to volunteer. Some volunteers lose interest as they progress in their volunteering journey. This affects our volunteering programmes, especially if we rely heavily on regular volunteers to run the programmes. On the other hand, working with patients can also be challenging for volunteers. It can be intimidating for volunteers to interact with patients in a medical setting like the dialysis centres. We need to ensure there is effective communication, proper training and adequate support system for a positive experience for all.
Appreciating the little moments
There is something deeply satisfying about knowing that the work that I do is making a positive impact in the lives of those who are battling kidney failure as well as their caregivers. I share a special bond with my grandmother who is also suffering from kidney failure. Speaking to the ah mas at the dialysis centres always tugs at my heartstrings because they remind me of her.
There are times when patients pass on suddenly. The fragility and vulnerability of life changes my perspective on many things. I have learnt to appreciate the little moments that often get taken for granted and prioritise what truly matters in life. This further fosters my empathy and motivates me to lend a helping hand to those in need and spread kindness wherever I can.
In the course of our work, we often receive feedback from our volunteers who felt impacted after volunteering with us. Some of them have personal stories to share such as losing their loved ones to kidney failure or having an immense bond with the patients during the course of befriending them. We also have senior volunteers who find purpose in life when they volunteer. Being able to give back to the community is a huge motivating factor for them to remain active both physically and mentally. Hearing gratitude and stories from them on how they benefit from volunteering always warms my heart.
Needing time to recharge
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of work but maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential to avoid burnout. I try to incorporate physical activities such as brisk walking and jogging in my daily routine. I prioritise eating healthy meals but do indulge in guilty pleasures once in a while when I’m feeling stressed. For me, taking a long hot bath is a great way to unwind after a long day. I also make sure to spend quality time with my loved ones and friends.
A truly rewarding experience
The relationships we build with our volunteers and patients inspire and motivate me to continue what I’m doing. Seeing the impact of our work makes it a truly rewarding experience.