15 Years of Strengthening Volunteers of All Ages
“There is passion, and a lot of good can be done. However, passion alone is not sustainable. Competencies are equally important to fully achieve the possibilities of doing good. VSMP helps many volunteers and social service staff to execute their projects effectively and efficiently,” said Ms Usha Menon, Founder of Usha Menon Management Consultancy (Asia) and a lecturer in the YMCA-NUS Business School Volunteer Service Management Programme (VSMP) for the past 15 years.
The YMCA of Singapore and NUS Business School strive to empower helping hands through VSMP, so they may reach even further and impact those in need more effectively. The programme, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, has strengthened over 800 volunteers and staff from over 147 Social Service Agencies (SSAs) in Singapore since its commencement in 2007.
Conducted twice a year, VSMP reaches out to adult staff members and volunteers of SSAs, as well as budding youth volunteers through the YMCA Youth For Causes programme*. VSMP equips participants with essential skills for community service projects, such as events management, financial management, risk management and measuring social impact. The programme persisted during the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming classes into sessions held on the virtual space.
“The pandemic proved the importance of being ever-ready to face different challenges and to be adaptable. During such times, it was more important than ever before that VSMP continues to support our volunteers in uplifting the lives of those in need,” said Ms Wu Mei Ling, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore. The programme maintained its sign-up and participation rates during the pandemic.
The programme, which is the first-ever collaborative course between a local premier university and a social service agency, provides comprehensive training and professional certification to volunteers. These graduates, equipped with newfound knowledge and skills, then benefit the non-profit and social service sector. This year, there were 35 new graduates from the programme.
VSMP’s lecturers include industry professionals, and educators from the NUS Business School. These individuals have accumulated vast experience in their respective fields, and can provide up-to-date and relevant knowledge to participants. Among them is Ms Usha Menon, who has served the programme since its commencement in 2007.
“In every cohort, there are people who ask me for advice for the great things they are planning to do. It has brought me joy to help them, and to watch some volunteers become passionate full-time social service staff. YMCA VSMP is a good place for volunteers to learn more, understand the system of volunteer service management and to figure out how their social service journey will continue – as volunteers or as staff,” said Ms Usha Menon.
As Singapore adapts to the pandemic and many community service programmes resume, the YMCA of Singapore hopes to engage more members of the public in volunteerism and empower passionate or budding volunteers, through holistic training sessions the YMCA VSMP provides to enhance their volunteering experience and maximise their impact. The YMCA of Singapore also conducts diverse programmes that serve youth-at-risk, youth with special needs, and youth volunteers and leaders, which members of the public can volunteer at.
“It is through our combined efforts that we can ensure no one gets left behind. We hope to see more members of the public from all walks of life engaging in volunteerism. Together, we can make Singapore a more inclusive, warm and embracing home for everyone,” said Ms Wu Mei Ling, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore.
*YMCA Youth For Causes is an annual youth empowerment programme that funds and mentors up to 400 students to champion a social cause of their choice.
Contributed by Sim Yu Xiang