#Heartwork: Ms Wee Jie Yin

11 Jun 2024

Wee Jie Yin
(photo credit: NVPC)

Ms Wee Jie Yin first became involved with MINDS during her time in junior college, when she accompanied her junior college senior to an activity at then MINDS Yio Chu Kang Gardens school out of curiosity. She now holds the position of Chairperson at MINDS MYG (MYG), a weekend programme entirely run by volunteers, which offers recreational and befriending activities to Persons with Intellectual Disability (PWIDs).

From Volunteer to Volunteer Leader

Jie Yin started as a volunteer eager to make a positive impact. Over time, she gravitated towards volunteer roles requiring leadership qualities. Her motivation to take on a leadership role as a volunteer stemmed from her strong passion for the cause, driven by a desire to make a broader impact and inspire fellow volunteers.

Jie Yin at MINDS MYG 50th Anniversary
Jie Yin sharing at MINDS MYG 50th Anniversary in 2022

“What motivated me to take on a leadership role was a combination of factors. Firstly, over the years of volunteering with PWIDs, I had developed a strong passion for the cause I was volunteering for. To me, they are the group in our society who are often misunderstood and underrepresented. I would like to do more to help this segment of community. Secondly, I saw the potential to make a difference on a larger scale by stepping up and taking on leadership responsibilities” shared Jie Yin.

She saw leadership as an opportunity to amplify their impact and inspire others to join this meaningful cause.

“I found a sense of fulfilment in leading and inspiring others to contribute their time and talent towards a shared vision. Seeing the dedication and enthusiasm of fellow volunteers’ week in and week out motivates me to lead by example and create a supportive environment where everyone could contribute in their own ways.”

Key Skills for Effective Volunteer Leadership

Jie Yin at the MINDS MYG 50th Anniversary
Jie Yin (left) together with Ms Sophia Lim, Deputy Director, Strategic Communications and Engagement MINDS, at the MINDS MYG 50th Anniversary

Reflecting on her time as a volunteer leader, she credits her success to several key skills. Active listening was crucial for building trust and understanding volunteers' perspectives, while effective communication ensured clear alignment of goals. Managing tasks, deadlines, and resources efficiently allowed her to be adept at project and event management, all while curating positive stakeholder experiences.

A standout project for Jie Yin was MYG’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2022. The event showcased five decades of achievements through milestone events and culminated in a dinner and dance event graced by notable guests. This milestone not only celebrated MYG’s journey but also motivated volunteers to persevere and elevate the programme to greater heights.

“In 2022, MYG celebrated our 50 years of volunteering. The final event brought together all members of MYG to celebrate its 50th anniversary! Clients and volunteers from each project came together to showcase their talent in a performance. We also had a best dressed competition as our service users rarely get to wear their Saturday’s best! In addition, we paid tribute to all volunteers, both old and new, as well as thank the caregivers for their unwavering support of MYG. It’s an important milestone event for MYG because it serves as a platform for former volunteers to share their experiences to encourage the current batch of volunteers to continue striving and uplift MYG.”

Handling Tough Decisions as a Leader

Annual Camp for the Intellectually Disabled (ACID)
Jie Yin (3rd from left) with her volunteers at the Annual Camp for the Intellectually Disabled (ACID) – An annual MYG level event where all 11 MYG projects come together for a day camp

Leading an organisation fully run by volunteers presents challenges, such as managing differing perspectives on resource allocation. Jie Yin emphasises understanding volunteers' concerns, seeking consensus, and sometimes making tough decisions for the organisation's sustainability.

“My initial approach will be to understand the thoughts of the volunteers and explain to them why we need to do this. It is important to validate their thoughts and work together to seek a resolution. This might not always be the best approach because some volunteers may be very firm in their idea, or they may perceive themselves as more senior or have more experience in this aspect than I am. However, if at the end of the day, we are still unable to reach a common resolution; it will be time to exercise the tough call to not proceed for the benefit of everyone.”

Fostering Inclusivity and Belonging

Jie Yin with a service user completing crafts work
Jie Yin together with a service user completing crafts work

Recognising and embracing diversity within the volunteer team is crucial. Jie Yin underscores the importance of valuing unique contributions and fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect centred around a common goal of serving clients and their families.

“ It is important to make sure everyone feels heard and valued. In addition, as a friendly reminder, I always emphasised to my fellow volunteers the importance of teamwork. All of us have a common goal here to serve our clients and their family. Therefore, to be able to bring services to our target audiences, we need to put aside our own individual differences and work together.”

Looking ahead, Jie Yin envisions expanding outreach efforts, enhancing clients' quality of life, and forging strategic partnerships to amplify impact and reach. Her goal is to sustain the volunteer community's growth and continue making a meaningful impact.

Supporting Volunteer Well-being

Jie Yin at the new volunteer’s orientation training
Jie Yin (Front row, 1st from left) together with her volunteers at the new volunteer’s orientation training

Jie Yin prioritises volunteer well-being by encouraging self-care, providing emotional support, and leveraging training resources provided by MINDS to support mental health and well-being./p>

“I constantly encourage and remind volunteers to set boundaries and prioritise self-care to protect their own well-being. This may involve empowering them to say no to additional commitments when feeling overwhelmed. Volunteering should be a journey one enjoys. This is one of the important pointers we share during our volunteer orientation training. Secondly, I also provide emotional support to team members by creating a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable expressing their feelings and concerns. Finally, I am grateful that MINDS, as our parent organisation, provides invaluable training resources that support volunteers’ mental health and well-being. This may include sending them for courses to be better equipped for their volunteering journey.”

Importance of Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation

MYG annual cohesion
Jie Yin (Front row, 1st from right) together with her volunteers at MYG annual cohesion cum AGM activity

Recognising and appreciating volunteers' efforts are essential for maintaining motivation and engagement. Jie Yin ensures volunteers feel valued through recognition awards and annual appreciation activities that celebrate achievements and foster a culture of gratitude.

“MINDS presents recognition awards biannually to honour volunteers who have shown exceptional dedication, leadership, or impact. As a fully volunteer-run program, we strive for our volunteers' achievements to be duly recognised. Additionally, MYG holds an annual volunteer cohesion activity, bringing volunteers together for bonding activities and an appreciation meal.”

Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

MINDS MYG Chairperson
Jie Yin (2nd row, 2nd from right) together with her first batch of committee members when she stepped up as MINDS MYG Chairperson

For those looking to volunteer, Jie Yin advises starting small, staying open-minded, and embracing the opportunity for personal growth and connection. She emphasises the immeasurable rewards of volunteering and encourages taking the first step to make a difference.

“Identify a cause that you are interested in and start small. Look for opportunities that require minimal time commitment or something that align with your skills and interest. Get an easy start to gain experience and confidence. After you are comfortable, there are always chances for you to take on more responsibilities or explore new opportunities. In addition, it’s always important for one to approach volunteering with an open mind and stay flexible. It’s a new experience and an exciting opportunity for you to meet new people. You are going to make a positive impact in perhaps unexpected ways. Just be yourself!”

Jie Yin's journey with MINDS exemplifies the transformative power of volunteer leadership, driven by passion, commitment, and a vision to create a positive impact on individuals and communities. Her story inspires and encourages others to embark on their own volunteering journey, contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate society. Every step count towards building a brighter future through service and dedication.

Are you looking to make an impact through volunteering? Check out our Volunteer Resource Hub for useful links to help you in your volunteering journey.