This story first appeared in the October 2020 issue of Methodist Message.
At an age where most people are spending time with their grandchildren or travelling around the world, Mr Chew Eng Bong has been busy cycling around Singapore to do his part for charity.
The spritely 86-year-old is a familiar sight, riding his bicycle across the island, regularly clocking long distances to keep fit.
More recently, he completed a 57km route to raise funds to benefit the residents of MWS Bethany Nursing Home – Choa Chu Kang. The nursing home is one of the centres under Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) which offers round-the-clock residential care to the chronically ill and frail. He did this as a member of Connecting Cycling Superstars (CCS), a group of passionate silver-generation cyclists who have been volunteering at the Home since 2017.
With the COVID-19 pandemic situation, various measures were put in place at the Home, and CCS volunteers like Eng Bong have been unable to engage the senior residents as they used to. Still, wanting to make a tangible difference in the lives of the residents, he and the other group members initiated a fundraising campaign called “Love on Wheels” to raise funds for the Home’s care remodelling project. The project involves transforming the Home into a more home-like environment that is also dementia-friendly.
The Bible says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Peter 4:10)”. In doing so, the CCS group has used their gift of a good heart to bring joy into the lives of vulnerable seniors.
To appeal to the general public for donations, 40 CCS members including Eng Bong, decided to cycle a 57km loop route starting from the MWS Bethany Nursing Home – Choa Chu Kang, passing by CT Hub building at Kallang where the MWS Home Care & Home Hospice office is located, MWS Christalite Methodist Home and MWS Nursing Home – Yew Tee, before returning to Choa Chu Kang.
After many hours of hard work from planning to cycling on 8 August, they raised a total of $14,649.
Eng Bong, or “Ah Mun” as he is known to his friends, personally clocked over 100km as it included the distance from his home in Ang Mo Kio to the nursing home at Choa Chu Kang, plus the return trip home.
With such devotion to the cause of supporting seniors, it is hard to believe that Eng Bong was not always a volunteer.
A former mechanic, Eng Bong had always kept himself active by repairing damaged appliances and refurbishing old furniture. When he took up cycling about a decade ago, it was to keep fit, meet people and make friends. For years, he had been trying to join a cycling group but struggled to do so as most are English speaking and catered to a younger age group — Eng Bong speaks mainly Mandarin and dialects. So when he heard about CCS through a local newspaper, he decided to connect with them. With CCS’ make-up of seniors like himself, he found it easier to make friends and enjoy the fellowship.
Before the COVID-19 period, Eng Bong had been regularly visiting the residents of MWS Bethany Nursing Home – Choa Chu Kang for the last three years to chat, play mobility-enhancing games and sing karaoke with them.
Volunteering was the natural next step as it combined his desire for an active lifestyle and to help others his age stay active and meaningfully engaged in the community.
“I find purpose in helping other seniors. I want seniors to recognise the importance of staying active, both in mind and body; I don’t want them to waste their life away. I also want to encourage fellow seniors with my life story – it gives me joy when I can inspire people young and old to live life to the fullest,” he explained.
It is not enough for Eng Bong to exemplify the spirit of seniors helping seniors, he wants other seniors to step up as well.
“I found it easy to talk to the seniors and enjoyed it very much. If you have the time to do it, just do it. We should always help others who are in need,” he shared.
His parting shot to potential senior volunteers? Come join us, we will take you!