In this edition of Groundup Features, we speak to Sherry, founder of Be Kind SG. She shares about how the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease affected her aspirations of travelling around the world, yet opened up the world of volunteering locally for her.
1. Hey Sherry, thanks for speaking with us! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
I'm Sherry and I’m 39 years old this year. I spent the first 19 years of my life pretty much like a typical Singaporean. A major turning point in my life happened when I was 19 years old, when I was diagnosed with a lifelong autoimmune disease – vasculitis, that affected my aspirations of travelling around the world and being a school teacher. With the encouragement from friends, I overcame some of my challenges and notable moments in my life included being able to travel around the world on Peace Boat, taking part in Relay Majulah and being an Obama Foundation Leader. In 2013, I also founded the first and only support group for people living with autoimmune diseases in Singapore.
2. What inspired you to start Be Kind SG?
Having volunteered in various non-profit organizations and experiencing unconditional acts of kindness by friends and complete strangers, I was supported by my husband to start Be Kind SG in 2017 to motivate more people to volunteer and reach out to ‘less visible’ communities in Singapore.
3. What keeps you going?
The friendships forged between complete strangers, whether between volunteers or with the residents at the adult disability homes, have kept me going. I have also been inspired by how some of the volunteers are stepping up to coordinate projects, donations and support our local social enterprises.
4. How has it been so far during this COVID-19 period?
Since February, we have been kept busy with various appreciation projects for community workers, such as healthcare and transport staff, and packed about 10,000 care packs. We are also working with new partners such as Bright Vision Hospital, South Central Community Family Service Centre and Viva Foundation for Children with Cancer to meet their needs, such as coordinating care packs and donations, and creating activity kits for children. We have had to adapt our in-person volunteering activities with the adult disability homes to virtual interaction sessions and it has been a challenge finding the best fit of virtual activities.
5. Lastly, how do you hope your initiative builds a city of good?
I hope that everyone takes a conscious effort to be aware of and reach out to the ‘less visible’ communities around us with a warm smile and friendship, and to practise kindness everyday.
* This feature has been edited for clarity