I WAS encouraged after reading last Saturday’s series of articles (‘Left turn at 50′). It showed that many people can make life-changing decisions during the twilight years of their careers.
I went into social work when I was 45 years old, as I was looking for a more meaningful career – just like those featured in the articles.
I studied for a diploma in psychology and a graduate diploma in counselling before plunging head on to start my own non-governmental organisation four years ago.
It was a counselling and coaching service that was provided free of charge to jobless Singaporeans struggling with prolonged unemployment. There were no recurring funds because we could not possibly charge a consultation fee when our clients were mostly jobless.
Today, as the sole full-time volunteer, I operate from my home and and depend on my volunteer team of 10 coaches and counsellors to share the heavy load. We must have seen close to 500 people over the past four years.
Funds are hard to come by and we depend on contributions from friends and the public. I remember days when I had less than $100 in the bank.
There also remains the regular urge to return to the workforce and forsake voluntary work. But each time someone writes in seeking support, I relent and continue.
Moreover, each letter thanking us for our services is enough to make me hang on for another year. Indeed, we have just started another support service for divorced people.
I have never felt happier in my life, despite having to struggle with funding. If we dare to look beyond our own needs and focus on those of others, life will be much simpler and more enriching.
Transitioning – Unemployment support services
Editor’s Note: This letter appeared in the Straits Times forum online on 15 May. We still urge our readers to support us in our works by contributing generously to our cause for Singapore. Please write to email@example.com for more details.