20 years of Service: PACE Local Service to the larger community and region
Priyanka Elhence, PACE Member and Parent, East Campus
Finishing up our 20th year of Service in the midst of a global pandemic has been challenging to say the least!
PACE Local Service is part of PACE (Parents’ Action for Community and Education), a volunteer parent-led organisation that falls under the Service umbrella of the College, with over 250 active members, and over 1,100 supporters/friends. HCA Hospice Care is a registered charity providing comfort and support to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families. The day centre sees the, “patient’s needs away from home, catering to patients who are relatively mobile and who do not require round-the-clock nursing care.” As many of you know, we are one of the longest volunteer partners of the HCA Hospice group with 10 years of support under our belt. PACE Local Service visits the HCA Day Hospice every second and fourth Friday of the school calendar month.
Through our local volunteer programme, we provide an opportunity for the College's parents to discover the rewards of providing direct, hands-on service to the HCA Day Hospice patients. For the patient, the hospice serves as a link to the outside world – allowing for interaction with other individuals who share the same experience of having a life-limiting illness. Our hospice volunteer work is immensely gratifying, emotionally meaningful, and socially stimulating. We engage the patients in various activities, invite performers during our visits, and organise an annual outing for the patients. We meet people from all walks of life – the patients themselves, parents from both campuses and from all school levels, parents of alumni, other volunteer groups, local youths who are partaking in their schools’ Community Involvement Project (CIP), various ‘entertainers’ etc. And we are all united in one purpose: living out HCA Hospice Care's care philosophy of, “adding life to days, not days to life.”
It has been PACE Local Service's dream to bring the patients to our campuses during our annual field trip, to give the HCA folks a special day while at the same time provide them a better understanding of our background and how we are all connected through UWCSEA. Think of it as yet another day to proudly embody the exceptional primary goals of the UWC movement: sustainability; service; creativity; and community engagement.
PACE Local Service started the annual field trip event for HCA patients in May 2019 at the Dover Campus, with the culmination of the entire school community coming together to make this a memorable visit for these lovely people. Spurred by the success of the event, we had every intention to return for a second field trip. Indeed the planning had already begun, but eventually had to be cancelled for obvious reasons such as high-risk elderly patients, large gatherings and school closures.
But PACE is nothing if it’s not resourceful, flexible and nimble. PACE really wanted to do something for the patients, now that they were even more isolated than before due to restrictions on visitations, so we rose to the occasion thanks to our dedicated parent community by contributing groceries, making fun videos and wholeheartedly donating time and energy for providing meals.
In the spirit of giving, so many stepped up to offer time, resources, talent and good will to the HCA Day Hospice in Singapore just before the ‘circuit breaker’ kicked in. Some examples include Dover parent, Shu Wei, who has been regularly cooking meals along with her very talented helper, and delivering them to patient and staff at HCA; Dover’s Lisa Siemsen kindly offered to cook a delicious homemade meal for the HCA patients and staff. So, a group of parent volunteers from Dover and East met at Lisa's place and washed, chopped vegetables and helped prepare a scrumptious meal; the Indian community from Dover cooked independently in their own homes and planned a meal for HCA patients and staff; many parents have been sponsoring Bento boxes for the patients and staff; while East’s Korean community organised a Korean Bento box meal for the HCA folks.
While many meals were coordinated by PACE Local Service, many parents also directly reached out to HCA and offered their kind assistance. Further afield, PACE has plans for a celebratory event (PACE2020) honouring the past board members who were so instrumental in getting this organisation going and keeping it alive. That event has been postponed and will be rescheduled for this fall with hopes for it truly happening.
PACE Scholarships is continuing to move forward with the design of a new library (accrued over 1,000 books donated from the community) in one of the Lihuk Panaghiusa family centres, in spite of challenges with shut-downs in the Philippines and families in even greater need of resources than ever. Instead of celebrating the graduation of our college scholars and recognising the arduous journeys they had taken to get there, this year saw Cebu in lockdown with very strict quarantine measures from around mid-March, which has been extended to the end of May. Just before the lockdown however, PACE managed to disburse the remaining school lunch Nutrition Program funds to the scholars and families in most need of food, to help them for a little while in a small way. Even though all our projects have come to a slow crawl, we are determined to ensure that the scholars and their families remain supported by our community.
Likewise, on 30 March, 100 Schools arrived at the construction site in Mandalay to begin work on the PACE-100 Schools at Middle School Kyat Thar Hin. Local villagers worked alongside the construction crew to help dig the ground for the foundation. Unfortunately, two days after construction work began, PACE Schools faced postponement of the construction due to government lockdowns. Founder of 100 Schools, John Stevens distributed rice and oil to the less fortunate villagers in the Sagaing division situated to the west of Mandalay, sufficient to take care of four individuals for one month. John plans to continue distributions to remote villagers to ensure the health and safety of as many people as he can reach. To help fund food donations to villages in Myanmar, please visit https://100schools.org/.
There are so many requests for help and resources during this challenging time of COVID-19, but right here in Singapore, the HCA is in need of PPE, cash donations, groceries, meal donations and more. Please check out their website and contact PACE Local Service for specific opportunities to help. There are many ways to get involved.