Christmas treat: Nurse uses CDC vouchers to buy hawker food for nursing home residents

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Hawker food was a welcome treat for residents of St Theresa's Home in Upper Thomson yesterday.

Ms Emily Yap, 22, a regular volunteer at the home since she was in primary school, ordered 100 packets of carrot cake for the home, using her family's Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers.

Launched on Dec 13, the digital voucher scheme gives all Singaporean households $100 to spend at about 10,000 participating hawkers and heartland merchants islandwide.

Instead of redeeming the vouchers to buy things for herself and her family, Ms Yap, a palliative care nurse at Alexandra Hospital, was inspired to use them to bring some joy to the 180 residents at the home.

While in-person visits to residential care homes resumed from Nov 22, each resident is allowed only two visitors per visit. The resident and visitors must be fully vaccinated.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Ms Yap said: "These residents have been in the nursing home for a long time for their own protection.

"By providing delicious hawker centre food, I hope it can bring them good memories and make them feel better."

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Ms Yap, a member of grassroots organisation Dunearn Neighbourhood Committee, also wanted to support 134 Yong Ji Traditional Black Carrot Cake, a hawker stall in Bukit Timah Food Centre that her family visits regularly.

She said: "This pandemic has been hard on them (hawkers) with all the dining restrictions; they need all of our support to survive."

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Foreign Affairs, as well as an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said she was heartened to hear of Ms Yap's initiative.

Yesterday, she joined Ms Yap and some members of the committee to present St Theresa's Home with the food packets.

Ms Sim said: "Emily was quick to see that as much as the CDC vouchers are helpful to many families, some might be happier to donate them for a good cause."

Mr Victor Seng, 65, executive director of St Theresa's Home, said: "This is a nice surprise for our elderly residents, many of whom love hawker food."

Ms Yap said members of the Dunearn Neighbourhood Committee have pledged another $300 worth of vouchers and she hopes to do another round of distribution next year.

She said: "Volunteering on my days off for such initiatives makes me happy. In order to care for patients in the hospital, I have to care for myself first."

This article was first published in The Straits Times.