Helping others is a way of life for Mr Johnson Ong, who started as a grassroots volunteer in his youth.
Now 54 and a management specialist at logistics firm UPS Asia Group, he is so enthusiastic about helping others that he started a volunteer group in 2012.
UCares Volunteers, which is not affiliated to any organisation, has about 350 active volunteers who are mostly in their 40s and 50s and from all walks of life.
Said Mr Ong: "It's a satisfaction to be able to help others and meet others with the same passion. When you volunteer, it's also a way to keep yourself active and healthy."
The group offers opportunities to volunteer each week, from befriending dialysis patients to organising activities for the elderly poor to encouraging Singaporeans to return their trays at food centres.
Mr Ong, a father of three children, said: "If we do the same thing each time, people will find it boring and leave."
An activity that was hardly boring was a beauty pageant held by the group last year for the elderly poor, who wished to dress up as they hardly had the chance to do so.
The 23 elderly women who took part were dressed in cheongsam and ethnic costumes, and had photos and videos taken of them as keepsakes. The oldest among them was 87.
Ms Nancy Khoo, a UCares volunteer in her 60s who hosted the pageant, said: "They felt so happy to have the chance to dress up and even do the catwalk."
Ms Khoo, a mother of four, also volunteers to sing at charity events and fund-raisers. Once a month, she would visit the Kidney Dialysis Foundation to befriend dialysis patients and bring them food.
She said: "I have free time and I want to do meaningful work. I feel happy if I can help lift a person up (from his or her troubles)."
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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