New initiative offers youth volunteers a helping hand: Page 2 of 2

New initiative offers youth volunteers a helping hand
SMU student Yong Shi Yun (left) set up the first campus arm of Habitat for Humanity, while NUS student Jasmine Yeo took a gap semester this month to continue her work at Halogen Foundation Singapore.

A better approach for managing volunteers - which includes matching their interest to the needs of community groups - is important.

Mr Martin Tan, co-founder of Halogen Foundation Singapore, said most young people are involved in "ad hoc" or project-based volunteerism. Their involvement in community work may end when the project is completed, or once they leave school.

Statistics from the NYC from 2010 showed that 72 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds were involved in at least one community group, compared with only 44 per cent of people aged 25 to 29.

The new initiative can help to create longer and more meaningful attachments at community organisations by training and mentoring young volunteers, said Mr Tan, who received the Singapore Youth Award this year for his work in the youth sector.

He added: "This is so that (young people) are more likely to commit for the long term if they feel they are growing personally and professionally."

Mr Joachim Goh, 28, said the youth corps can help people start projects, even small ones. "Just stepping out for the very first time, after that you'd want to do more," he said.

Despite putting in at least 50 hours a week as a manager at accounting firm KPMG, he managed to squeeze in five trips in the last two years to places like Sri Lanka and Laos to teach English, build houses and set up medical clinics in villages.

Singapore Management University student Yong Shi Yun, 22, also welcomes the move. She set up the first campus arm of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organisation which helps build houses for the needy abroad.

The new scheme, she said, is a good way to "embed yourself in a community of volunteers (to) learn and receive emotional support from them".

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