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26 May 2023
SOURCE: CPF Board
The power of two can be incredibly powerful. Have you ever realised how much more you can achieve with a helping hand? Whether it's preparing a meal, assembling furniture or generating new ideas, having a partner can make a huge difference.
They say, “two is better than one”. That’s because working together sparks creativity, efficiency and support to achieve a common goal. Additionally, having a partner can provide emotional and social benefits, such as companionship, shared experiences and mutual encouragement.
The story of Hwee Boon and Wai Chung shows that it is by no means limited to the union of marriage. Here’s how this retired couple continues to live life with purpose by giving back to the community.
Originally motivated by her desire to know the school that her own children attended, Hwee Boon started her volunteering journey at River Valley High School 10 years ago. Leveraging her engineering background, she looked into improving existing processes such as digitalising the school’s database and file sharing.
Hwee Boon gradually found joy in helping others. She started volunteering as a Silver Generation Ambassador (SGA) with the Silver Generation Office (SGO). Together with Wai Chung, they visit seniors at their homes regularly. Their duties involve educating seniors about relevant Government schemes and policies, while encouraging them to embrace digital connectivity and an active lifestyle.
Hwee Boon feels strongly about volunteering, as it not only helps others but also fuels her own personal growth. She emphasises its importance, stating, “It is also a two-way street as we need to learn more about the Government policies to teach, and in turn we gain valuable knowledge.”
Hwee Boon once heard a man going on a tirade against the CPF system in public, claiming that CPF was holding citizens' money unfairly. Whether it was a well-intentioned or misguided rant, the passion in which he spoke with stoked her curiosity about CPF, prompting her to educate herself further on the topic. She attended workshops and forums, ultimately concluding that the CPF system is designed to help citizens become self-reliant.
Noticing the importance and commonality of education in her volunteer work at the school, the SGO and CPF, she saw the ideal chance to contribute as an CPF E-Xperience Guide. Without hesitation, she signed up for this volunteering opportunity with Wai Chung.
For Wai Chung, being a CPF volunteer was always going to be an easy choice. He is deeply appreciative to the CPF system for enabling him to secure a home for his family, even when he was fresh out of university with limited finances.
His interest in financial literacy also led him to attend classes and study various investment options. After careful evaluation, his conclusion was that CPF was one of the most favourable options – providing steady returns with little to no risk.
Beyond advocating for CPF, there was still another compelling reason why Wai Chung became a full-time volunteer - to spend more quality time with Hwee Boon.
Wai Chung and Hwee Boon with their children – Shi Cheng (L) and Shi Ning (R)
Wai Chung and Hwee Boon first met while working at the same company, where Wai Chung held the position of an engineer and Hwee Boon was an engineering assistant. They have been married for 31 years and have two grown children, 27-year-old son and a 25-year-old daughter who have recently started working.
Having earned the right to relax and enjoy their retirement, both of them chose to spend their time volunteering instead. That motivation comes from the importance they place on maintaining social connections during retirement. To them, staying active and engaging with others is crucial for their mental well-being and can help to prevent the onset of illnesses like dementia.
Hwee Boon shared their perspectives with seniors they meet during their house visits, emphasising the significance of staying mentally and socially active for a fulfilling retirement. They encourage seniors to find ways to stay engaged in retirement, “There’s only so much time a person can spend on travelling or relaxing. To have a high-quality retirement, you have to stay functional and connected with the people around you.”
Hwee Boon’s extroverted personality contrasts with Wai Chung, who is an introvert by nature. However, volunteering together enables them to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
By engaging in discussion and sharing insights before each volunteering session which fosters a collaborative approach, this allows them to acquire knowledge together. They learnt how to approach different individuals, determine who should initiate interactions, approach and manage their own emotions.
One key benefit is the opportunity to meet different people through volunteering. By learning from different seniors and experiences, Hwee Boon and Wai Chung gain new perspectives and think about how to apply these lessons to their own lives many years down the road.
To make volunteering efforts sustainable, both of them agree that it is vital to do it together with a partner, such as working together as CPF E-Xperience Guides.
Together in their roles as CPF E-Xperience Guides, Hwee Boon and Wai Chung actively assist members of the public through small-group workshops and CPF roadshows. They focus on teaching seniors how to effectively use the CPF Mobile app and equip them with the knowledge to identify potential scams.
They strongly believe in getting seniors to use and adopt digital tools, “When we encourage seniors to go digital, we also provide them knowledge on how to protect themselves online. All of them paid a lot of attention when we asked them to select the correct answers (in various scam scenarios) and most of them took pictures so that they could share them with their loved ones and friends.”
As retired individuals themselves, Hwee Boon and Wai Chung find that their relatability as regular members of the public greatly enhances their ability to connect with the people they help. Having “been there done that”, this gives them an extra layer of credibility as they can empathise with the experiences and challenges faced by others.
Hwee Boon and Wai Chung remember a house visit as SGAs, where a wife accused her husband of not paying her MediShield Life premiums using his MediSave. Drawing upon their knowledge gained as CPF E-Xperience Guides, they assisted the husband in checking the utilisation of his MediSave, ultimately proving that he had indeed paid on her behalf.
Beyond saving marriages, or just helping couples have peaceful nights, what makes them truly happy is the act of helping others. They have experienced many instances where despite initial hesitation, their assistance eventually led to personal calls of gratitude. One example was an elderly man who initially had reservations but he not only welcomes them warmly now, he also prepares tea for their visits.
Hwee Boon and Wai Chung strongly advocate for others to become E-Xperience Guides and engage in volunteer activities regularly. They feel that Singapore needs to enhance its volunteering culture, “We all need to stay engaged with and help the wider society. It will be even better if our retirees can make volunteering part of their lives. Not only can they find purpose in retirement, but they can also continue to stay connected and active. It’s a win-win.”
Information accurate as of date of publication.