Formerly from the telecommunications sector, Alister Ong made the switch to working at AWWA – firstly, as an Assistant Manager in their Community Partnership department for 11 months before progressing to the role of Client Experience Officer in January 2021. He shares with us his experience as a social service professional and advocate of inclusivity.
A cause close to the heart
There is no doubt that social service and inclusivity go hand in hand. Impacting people positively necessitates that different needs, abilities and demographics are recognised. This doesn’t just apply to clients but to the community of social service professionals as well. Alister Ong, who is a differently-abled social service professional, represents this ethos in every way.
“I knew I wanted to give back to the community. This profession allows me to help others find their purpose,” Alister says on why he decided to join social service. From his previous job role in the corporate sustainability department to his current one in social service, he tells us that he has always been active in the inclusivity space. “Before joining social service, I worked on improving employment opportunities for the differently-abled and at AWWA we strive to improve the lives of clients across all ages and walks of life. The similarities between my former job in telecommunications and social service have also allowed me to transfer previously acquired communication and strategy skills,” he shares.
All in a day’s work
As an Assistant Manager in AWWA’s Community Partnership department, Alister’s role involved liaising with external stakeholders like donors and volunteers, as well as colleagues from the various services under AWWA. “I helped in providing volunteers with an orientation to familiarise them with the services they were volunteering with and also met with our corporate partners to give them timely updates on the status of projects. Internally, I worked with teams across different services to address what they might require to meet their clients’ needs,” he explains.
Having joined AWWA in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alister had to organise many virtual activities through which he gained much learning. “I organised a webinar on dementia together with colleagues from AWWA Health and Senior Care. The response was positive and gave me assurance that although things had to be done differently, being able to adapt quickly and learn was in me. Thereafter, I also got to organise virtual storytelling sessions for our clients in collaboration with corporate partners,” he reveals. He fondly recalls one such virtual storytelling session with young children and their caregivers, where he managed to keep the participants engaged with hands-on art and craft materials.
He has since progressed to become a Client Experience Officer, having pursued the role to learn more skills and better serve AWWA and its clients.
In tune with one another
Alister appreciates the supportive community he has found at AWWA. His colleagues assist with tasks like retrieving belongings that are usually located behind his power wheelchair, or opening doors to meeting rooms. He has also had the joy of working with other differently-abled individuals who have been a source of inspiration. “Knowing that I am not alone motivates me and serves as a reminder that there are others going through similar experiences.”
A role in community partnership is one of many in social service. To find out more, read about a career in engagement and fundraising..