As part of her work as a staff member of TOUCH Community Services, Charlene spends her time and endless energy organising various volunteer initiatives to raise awareness and advocate for inclusivity within the Deaf community.
Between work and family, Charlene works closely with the Deaf community, running baking classes for Deaf seniors to equip them with lifelong learning skills, works with Meals-On-Wheels in order to give back to society, and also runs tuition and enrichment programmes for deaf children. That’s quite the impressive résumé if we may say so!
When asked about the most exciting part of her job, Charlene mentions that she enjoys meeting people and provides basic counselling for married couples, and families.
However, her real passion lies in organising volunteering activities. So how did she start on this path? During her time as a polytechnic student, Charlene needed some assistance in her studies. Through her friend’s referral, she was introduced to TOUCH Silent Club for tuition lessons. It was there that she discovered her passion on reaching out to people and began taking on projects as a Chairwoman, despite also taking on a full course load at school. While anyone else in her shoes would have been daunted by the challenge, Charlene embraced it and began volunteering extensively.
Outside of organising volunteer efforts, Charlene also enjoys spending time with her family, with her favourite activity being cooking. Her favourite cuisine is Eurasian – pork stew soup in particular. Her husband who is also Deaf, supports her in her various activities. Of the three children they have, two are Deaf. From going to the park and exercising, to swim lessons, this family embraces life to the fullest.
However, not everything has been a walk in the park. There are still common misconceptions that Charlene believes needs to be corrected. She mentions how sometimes people think that by speaking slowly, people who are deaf would be able to understand them. Other examples are that all Deaf are mute, or are unable to take phone calls. Charlene tends to use this opportunity to introduce the range of Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals she knows, and the various assistive devices and “lifehacks” they use in order to get around society’s barriers.
She believes that despite how far we have come in understanding disability, there is still some way to go, and she fully encourages anyone who is keen on breaking barriers to continually engage and interact with persons with disabilities so that we can all move forward as a more inclusive society.