“As a Volunteer Manager, I believe the most important thing to do is to listen keenly.”, shared Ms Ng Shou Jin on the key skill that is crucial for the role of a Volunteer Manager.
Shou Jin is the Volunteer Manager at New Hope Community Services and a NCSS Volunteer Management Champion. She used to be a secondary school teacher before embarking on her journey as a dedicated Volunteer Management Practitioner (VMP) in the social service sector. The transition began when Shou Jin realised a profound calling to work directly with communities, steering away from the conventional role of preparing lesson plans as a teacher. Despite a degree in music, which initially seemed unrelated to social service, Shou Jin seized the opportunity presented by the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme. This led to her role of Volunteer Manager with New Hope Community Services, marking the commencement of a transformative journey.
Shou Jin (far right) with her volunteers serving as shopping hosts during the JoyPlus Market (Deepavali Edition) event held by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng’s Constituency Office
Within a few months of the traineeship, Shou Jin's commitment and passion were recognised, resulting in a full-time position as part of the team operating the SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Kreta Ayer. Eager to contribute to building an inclusive and caring Singapore, Shou Jin embraced the chance to learn about the impactful work of locale partners in Kreta Ayer.
“I was more than happy to accept the offer as this would give me the opportunity to learn more about the good work of different social service agencies & non-profits in Singapore, and to be part of the national initiative to build an inclusive & caring Singapore by brokering meaningful volunteer partnerships to serve the needs of the community.”, she shared.
Shou Jin sharing about the good work done by the SG Cares VC @ Kreta Ayer’s corporate partners during their corporate networking session
Facing the initial challenge as a new VMP in getting to know the locale partners, Shou Jin realised the essence of connection over traditional networking.
“I struggled with starting and sustaining conversations, and I must admit, I was a rather nervous conversationalist! But over time, I realised that it is not about networking but connecting, and not about eloquence but sincerity. I learned that authentic connections are built by sincerely wanting to learn about others and being genuinely interested in their experiences and stories. This greatly transformed how I approached interacting with various stakeholders and is now a value I treasure as a VMP.”, shared Shou Jin.
Volunteer Impact: Transforming Lives, Strengthening Communities
In her journey as a Volunteer Manager, one of her most memorable projects involved a collaboration with SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Kreta Ayer's corporate partner, Covenant Capital. The CSR initiative, celebrating seniors' birthdays every two months, showcased the dedication of the team led by Covenant Capital’s CEO, Mr Edwin Lee. The project's success was attributed to the commitment of each team member, forming the core Covenant Cares team responsible for organising and leading volunteers for the celebrations.
Shou Jin found heartwarming moments in observing volunteers overcoming initial reservations, evolving from shy individuals to active participants engaging with seniors, even venturing into activities like karaoke. These transformations highlighted the profound impact of regular volunteering on both volunteers and the community.
Volunteers participating in an experiential walk around Jalan Kukoh, hosted by Shou Jin (third from left)
Caring For Volunteers
Believing in the strength of a supportive volunteer community, Shou Jin emphasised the importance of developing friendships among like-minded individuals. Serving alongside volunteers, Shou Jin and the team initiated befriending support groups with a volunteer counsellor, addressing the emotional well-being of volunteers and boosting long-term retention.
“I believe that as volunteer managers, it would also be beneficial to serve alongside your volunteers from time to time. By walking the talk, this can help volunteer managers to forge authentic friendships with your volunteers, and doing so could also expose them to insights into the volunteers’ challenges. In turn, this can give us more ideas on how we can better support our volunteers – and this can help boost volunteer retention in the long run.”, said Shou Jin.
Shou Jin (far right) and the SG Cares VC @ Kreta Ayer team with the food & household items donated by their volunteers for seniors in Chinatown during their 2nd Birthday Bash: Volunteer & Partner Appreciation event
To Shou Jin, a significant milestone was the 2nd "anniversary" of the SG Cares VC @ Kreta Ayer. The event not only appreciated volunteers and volunteer partners but also leveraged the occasion to collect donations-in-kind for an Active Ageing Centre, benefiting approximately 600 seniors. The event recognised the unwavering support from volunteers and partners, showcasing the strength of friendships formed within the community.
Know Your Volunteers
As a dedicated volunteer manager, Shou Jin emphasised the importance of keen listening, especially in the diverse work of the SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Kreta Ayer & Bukit Merah. Seeking to understand volunteers' interests and goals and fully grasping the needs of various community partners became the foundation for meaningful and effective partnerships. Shou Jin highlighted the significance of a curious mind and a collaborative heart for a volunteer manager seeking to add value to the community they serve.
As a whole, her journey exemplifies the transformative power of dedication, sincerity, and a commitment to building meaningful connections within the community, leaving an indelible impact on the social service sector.
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.