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Adventist Community Services Recognized by Singapore Government

The Adventist Community Services (ACS) of the church in Singapore supports a nation that cares for the wellbeing of its citizens through an innovative, long-term health emphasis program. By definition, this program termed Pay It Forward is designed to “encourage individuals to be involved in the lives of our community, especially those that are experiencing exacting circumstances.”
 
Initiated by the ACS in partnership with various community centers and the Chinese Development & Assistance Council, Pay It Forward Day launched in 2009 and since then has become a yearly program with volunteers providing low income residents with a free meal, health screening, shopping vouchers and healthy food hampers. Pay It Forward Plus (PIF+) was created to serve the community further by offering monthly, systematic holistic assistance to families of lower-incomes. These monthly visits are done by volunteer health professionals known as the Wellness Ambassadors. They see families in their home to give free health checks and offer counseling to ensure that they continue to make healthy choices.
 
This long-term approach has caught the attention of others in the community. The March 31 issue of Today, a national newspaper, reported that the ACS “currently has 200 strong group of Wellness Ambassadors from four centers in Singapore who visit recipient’s homes. Beneficiaries have shown significant health improvements such as having healthier eating habits and reduced blood pressure.”
 
This notoriety is even reaching governmental levels. During the August 31 PIF Day, Grace Fu, a Minister (elected Parliament member) in the Prime Minister's Office, recognized the contributions of PIF and the Adventist church to the communities of Singapore. In addition to noting the positive impact PIF has had on elderly Singaporeans, she highlighted the PIF+Headstart program.
 
 
That same day, Fu presented to the ACS the "People Association Community Spirit Awards 2014 - Excellence Award " highly commending the community work the church rendered. Fu further mentioned that this award is not easy to come by as it is not based solely on financial donations from organizations but on value of work done.
 
This year, PIF+ Headstart involved children from the Seventh-day Adventist Kindergarten (SDAK) in packing and distribution of healthy food hampers for PIF Day. The kindergarteners and their parents accompanied the Wellness Ambassadors in one of their monthly rounds monitoring residents under the PIF+ program.
 
Through character-building activities like this, the church enhances the country’s Ministry of Education’s Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum. Not only students but their families benefit from this emphasis. Ms. Pugalendh, a sister of an SDAK student, says this from her observation, “I am more aware that there are less fortunate families in our community, and we should try to lend a helping hand to them and encourage them.”
 
 
By experiencing community service repeatedly, these values and healthy lifestyle choices will be instilled in children as well as give families a way to bridge the generation gap. Mr. Lim, the father of a kindergartener, realizes the influence of PIF+ Headstart upon his daughter, Charlotte. He shares, “They (the students) were taught about the pyramid symbol, that it indicates healthier food, and whenever I made suggestion on what food to get, my kids would be religiously looking for the triangle. If it didn’t have (that), they would let me know, ‘Daddy, you can’t buy that’.”
 
In this high-paced, high-tech city-nation, Fu notes that, “PIF+ and PIF+ Headstart is very unique. Many places would have donors coming with food packages but to have regular volunteers with a systematic program to check the health level of the families and also helping them to eat healthily … now with the little ones involved, it adds significance…. It opens up the eyes of our young people. It encourages them to… (develop) empathy for others who need help and (it is) encouraging volunteerism at a young age. These are very positive values.”
 
Pay it Forward continues its mission of community involvement with the goal of volunteers and recipients passing on goodness.
 
The Adventist church has been active in the country of Singapore for over a hundred years and currently, 3,000 members in nine churches serve this diverse city-nation with active programs on health, family, children and media. It also operates the San Yu Adventist School and Seventh-day Adventist kindergarten.
 
[Faith Toh/Adventist News Dispatch]
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