Story by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat/ Photos by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat and Lim Jun Cheng
In the last three years that he has been volunteering with Young NTUC’s Project Refresh and U Heart initiatives, 22-year-old Lim Jun Cheng has seen the programmes grow from small pilot projects in the heartlands to large-scale projects that now involve collaborations with grassroots organisations and multiple teams of volunteers.
The final-year Electrical and Electronics Engineering student at Singapore Polytechnic sees the planning, coordination and logistics efforts as means of gaining valuable experience.
“Through volunteering my time and effort, I am able to get to learn more about different perspectives from different groups of people from different walks of life. Through these roles I get to take part in, I am able to learn soft skills like project management, public speaking and communication,” he shared.
While some people volunteer their time as a way to give back to the community, Jun Cheng’s experience is a more personal one.
For him, volunteerism is a means to discover more about himself, build character, grow as a person and share that with others in a meaningful way.
“I’ve been told that I have always been helpful by nature. But going into ITE (Institute of Technical Education) was a turning point for me because it made me realise that I should do something about my own future instead of remaining the rowdy, playful kid who didn’t like studying.
“Volunteering was that stepping stone to learn more about myself, and joining my school’s community service club allowed me to grow as a person when I had to be responsible for volunteering projects that we organised,” said Jun Cheng.
Participating in various community service projects over the years has taken Jun Cheng overseas to places like Lijiang, China. However, he counts his experiences with Project Refresh as one of the most memorable.
As part of Project Refresh, volunteers from local schools, unions, businesses and even religious groups will spend the day helping less privileged residents living in the heartlands with sprucing up their homes.
“All of them are memorable to me. But if I had to choose one, then Project Refresh is one of the most memorable because in the time leading to the event, I would be going down to site to meet with the beneficiaries and getting to know them better. Over time, they began to share different parts of their personal life. The process lets me understand them better and empathise with them as I realise that what these seniors want most is someone to talk to them, trade stories and keep them company,” he shared.
Sharing A Passion
An aspiring entrepreneur drawn to the process of self-discovery, Jun Cheng hopes to one day start up his own business and create his own opportunities.
In the meantime, he’s looking to do his best in school, work part-time for his own pocket money and spend his free time planning for upcoming volunteerism engagements.
Sharing advice for those who are keen to give back but unsure of how to start, Jun Cheng has this to share: “Never be afraid to serve because you may learn from the experience in so many ways. There are many volunteering programmes in the community that you can get started with. Signing up is that first step to making that difference and helping someone else.”
Or, one could just join Jun Cheng on the next Project Refresh.