#Heartwork: Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser

19 Jan 2024

Volunteering is a transformative journey that not only enriches the lives of those being served but also moulds the volunteers themselves. Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser, a dynamic couple, exemplify the profound impact that volunteering can have on individuals as they transitioned from dedicated volunteers to influential volunteer leaders on the Share a Pot Programme (SAP) at Caritas Singapore. Their story is a testament to the power of collaboration, resilience, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser

Lesley (Left) and Dil (Right) at a Share a Pot Event at Caritas Agape Village

Starting the Volunteer Journey at Caritas Singapore, Agape Village

The couple's journey into volunteering at Caritas Singapore started with an invitation from Mr. Gordon Pinto, the (former) General Manager of Caritas Agape Village and a mutual friend. The prospect of starting an SAP Programme resonated with Lesley and Dil, aligning with their passion for serving others. The SAP program, a Yishun Health initiative, aimed to engage and support seniors, making it a perfect fit for the couple's commitment to making a difference.

Leading the Share a Pot (SAP) Programme

The SAP Programme at Caritas Agape Village is a community-centric program designed to combat loneliness and isolation among seniors. Lesley and Dil, along with Anthony John (Fitness Trainer) and a dedicated team of team leaders and 60 volunteers oversee the co-ordination and implementation of the weekly SAP programme, providing a holistic well-being experience for over 120 seniors. The programme encompasses various volunteer teams, each with specific volunteer roles, such as the Kitchen Team, Welcome and Check-in Team, Assessment Team, Fun and Fitness Team, and Set-up Team.

Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser (4)

Lesley (Centre) on stage with volunteers leading warm ups

Lesley's role involves collaborating with the Agape Village Team to plan the resources annually and coordinating with the fitness trainer, Anthony John for the weekly programme and seniors' exercise routines. Dil manages the scheduling of volunteers and oversees the logistics, ensuring seamless operations of the hall programme. Together, they create a harmonious environment where volunteers and seniors alike experience the joy of shared activities and healthy living.

Making Time to Volunteer Regularly

For Lesley and Dil, the motivation to volunteer regularly stems from an inner calling and the fulfilment derived from seeing happiness and joy in the eyes and smiles of seniors and volunteers.

“It is an inner calling that is greatly satisfied by the happiness and joy we see in the eyes and smiles of the seniors and volunteers. It is a really special opportunity sharing our lives, time and talents together for a good cause on a weekly basis. It is truly magical that the volunteers, Agape Village, and seniors have great chemistry together!”, shared Lesley.

Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser (3)

Dil (Right) serving as Santa Claus at a Share a Pot Christmas Event

As retirees, Lesley and Dil have the flexibility to volunteer on weekdays, allowing them to serve together for a common purpose. Their commitment, planning, prioritising, and effective time management have enabled them to volunteer consistently.

Lessons Learned from Volunteering

Lesley and Dil share three key lessons gleaned from their Share a Pot experience:

  1. The Power of Collaboration: Volunteers and the Agape Village Team collaborate seamlessly, fostering mutual respect, clarity of roles, and positive motivation.
  2. Focusing on the Bigger Picture: Despite occasional differences, the programme's overarching purpose helps them to overcome obstacles, ensuring continued success.
  3. Courage to Adapt and Grow: The duo navigated challenges during COVID, adapting SAP to virtual sessions, showcasing resilience and innovation. The programme has since evolved into a platform for deeper community bonding and collaboration with external partners.

“The Programme here has also enabled collaborations with corporations partnering us to do their Corporate Social Responsibility projects with us; as well as schools requesting to work with us on their Values In Action projects. None of this would have come to fruition if we all did not have the courage to adapt, grow and see what more each of us could offer (or be); and what more SAP could possibly have to offer!”, shared Lesley.

Leading with Experience and Wisdom

Lesley and Dil, both bring a wealth of experience to their roles as volunteer leaders. Lesley's open-mindedness and flexibility, combined with Dil's supportive role, contribute to the programme's success.

Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser (1)

Lesley (Far Right) addressing seniors at a Bollywood Outing

Clear communication of goals, shared expectations, and consistent appreciation for volunteers underpin Lesley's leadership approach. Decisions are made collectively, prioritising the seniors' well-being and the common goal of the programme.

Acknowledging the diversity of volunteers, Lesley and Dil encourage individuals to contribute in ways comfortable to them, fostering a sense of belonging. Team gatherings and collaborative activities further strengthen the bond among volunteers.

Advice for Potential Volunteers

Lesley encourages individuals to take the first step into volunteering, emphasising that it's an amazing journey of internal growth and self-discovery. Dil highlights the rewarding nature of volunteering, providing a sense of satisfaction and achievement while giving back to society.

Ms Lesley Goonting and Mr Dil Devaser (2)

Dil (Centre) with fellow SAP volunteers after set-up for a Valentine’s Event

“It is very rewarding and gives one a sense of satisfaction and achievement when helping the less fortunate. Giving back to society and community helps one realise how fortunate one is able to be in a position to do that”, shared Dil.

Lesley and Dil's journey from volunteers to volunteer leaders at Share a Pot @ Agape Village exemplifies the transformative power of volunteering. Their dedication, resilience, and commitment to community service serve as an inspiration for others to embark on their own meaningful volunteering journeys. As they continue to make a positive impact in the lives of seniors and volunteers alike, their story echoes the profound truth that giving back is not just an act; it's a way of life.

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.