Stories Of Impact
2020 Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award winner Natalie Koh: A talented musician with a heart for children with special needs
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

2020 Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award winner Natalie Koh: A talented musician with a heart for children with special needs

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A woman gracefully plays the violin, showcasing her talent, dressed in a captivating blue gown.

Natalie’s first steps towards becoming a professional musician weren’t the easiest. Although she began learning violin at the tender age of five at her mother’s behest, Natalie barely passed her ABRSM exams in the fledgling years of learning the instrument. Nevertheless, it was her love for classical music and the violin that allowed her to persevere in her music-learning journey.

It was in her secondary and junior college years that she started developing a more well-rounded education in music.

‘I was in my school’s Higher Music Programme and Concert Band, instead of the obvious choice of String Ensemble. I also decided to involve myself in playing more orchestra and chamber music. I believe these experiences ultimately contributed to my growth as an aspiring musician, and allowed me to be more creative and expressive,’ Natalie explains.

Consequently, it was to her delight that Natalie successfully auditioned into Yong Siew Toh Conservatory back in 2016, where she spent four fruitful and rewarding years.

It was through the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory that the young musician broadened her horizons interacting with children with special needs. The Conservatory was working on a joint project with Superhero Me, an inclusive arts organisation that harnesses the creativity of art to empower children with and without special needs.

‘I realised that there were so many people whom I did not know about and that I did not interact with enough,’ says Natalie.

‘I felt compelled to learn more about the special needs community and connect with them more through art. Hence, I’ve been working primarily with Superhero Me since 2017 to facilitate art workshops and conduct music workshops. This December 2020, we are looking to stage a multi- sensory theatre production for children with autism, of which I am the composer and live musician.’

Whilst pursuing her undergraduate degree, Natalie received opportunities to perform in Japan and Canada in 2019 and 2020; two of the most memorable ones being the Chofu International Music Festival and the Musical Chairs Chamber Music Festival. The Chofu International Music Festival is led by renowned conductors Masaaki Suzuki and Masato Suzuki, and comprising professional musicians from top Japanese orchestras, like the NHK Symphony Orchestra and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

‘I was thoroughly inspired and motivated by the high calibre of orchestra playing, and working side-by-side with professional musicians was unforgettable. The Musical Chairs Chamber Music Festival was held earlier this year in Montreal, Canada and was also coincidentally my last ‘live’ and most memorable performance before the COVID-19 restrictions,’ says the 22 year old musician.

Winning the 2020 Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award is a great honour for the young musician, and has definitely provided her with a boost of confidence. With the prize money, Natalie plans to fund part of her graduate studies in September 2021.

‘As a recipient of the Award, I will also have the opportunity to perform my own recital. I was supposed to have one as my graduation recital in April 2020 but alas, because of COVID-19 this was not meant to be,’ says Natalie regretfully.

‘I am glad that this opportunity to perform one last time is given to me, before I leave Singapore to pursue my further studies. After completing my Masters, I will return to Singapore and continue to teach the violin. I plan to start my own studio, and continue to perform as a freelancer in orchestras. I also hope to grow my portfolio as a community artist, to continue to share my passion for music with the special needs community and with people from all walks of life.’

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Stories Of Impact

Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre – Letter to a donor

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Dear Donor,

Thank you for your support of Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre.

We recently attended a graduation ceremony there and would like to share with you how it went.

A was accepted into Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre in December 2014. She had severe anger management issues, emotional outbursts and made various attempts to run away from the home. Six months after entering Dayspring, she was so touched by the concern shown by the carers, counsellors and residents there that she decided to turn her life around and ‘graduate’ from the programme. A achieved her target in two years and will soon be leaving Dayspring to begin a new chapter in her life.

As it was her ‘graduation party’, she got to decide who to invite to celebrate her success. Those present included her mother, friends, social workers, volunteers and many others who played a significant role in her life during her turnaround period.

It was not easy for A to share her experiences in front of so many people, but she did so bravely – acknowledging everyone who helped make her the person she is today. Through the process, A had reconciled with her mother and was even able to thank her publicly for her unwavering love and support. This was a quite an achievement considering that A used to have a volatile relationship with her mother.

The guests took turns to offer A words of affirmation and encouragement for the positive changes they saw in her. She was presented with a certificate and a unique butterfly necklace which symbolised her growth and transformation. The staff and residents also produced a video documenting her journey in Dayspring.

With the help of Dayspring, A is currently training under a pastry chef at the Fullerton Hotel. We were all privileged to taste the delicious Nutella cake personally baked by A. Looking ahead, A will be working hard towards achieving her dream of becoming a chef, and owning restaurants, bars and cafés around the world.

The graduation ceremony provided us with a glimpse of the extensive work that Dayspring undertakes in rehabilitating teenage girls like A and giving them the last mile opportunity to turn their lives around. It gave us a chance to appreciate the work of the centre and get to know the girls a little better. It was an afternoon well spent and we certainly missed you at the event.

I am sharing this to show the impact your donation has made on A and many others like her. Thank you for making a difference in their lives.

Best regards,

Belinda Lee
Principal Consultant, Philanthropy & Grants
Community Foundation of Singapore

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News

The Community Foundation of Singapore to lead legacy giving initiative

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An Asian family enjoying quality time together, sitting on the lush green grass in a serene park setting.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) will be leading the legacy giving initiative and partnering with key stakeholders to grow the giving culture in Singapore.

As Singapore’s only community foundation, CFS is fortunate to build on over 11 years of experience, to bring donors, charities and other stakeholders together. Donors have already trusted CFS with over $160 million in donations. More than one-third of these are legacy gifts, which are used to support causes across different sectors, including health, education, research, arts, social and welfare services.

The three-year initiative, which will be launched in the latter half of 2020, aims to reach out to three audiences: donors, professional advisors and charities.

Legacy is a broad concept. Legacy gifts refer to planned, future donations. This could include cash, marketable securities, insurance policies, CPF monies and marketable assets such as real estate. Legacy gifts are far more than planned donations from a person’s assets after death. They can mark important moments in life and honour the memory and achievements of a loved one. Anyone can make a legacy gift.

Donors interested in making legacy gifts today want more knowledge to make informed choices and accountability for their gifts. CFS will address these needs by promoting awareness, building and sharing knowledge and supporting action. CFS will provide choices and trusted advice to make gifts meaningful and impactful for future generations.

We will also reach out to professional advisors on ways and tools to help their clients structure their giving. CFS will help charities tap into legacy giving to enable sustainability and augment service delivery to their beneficiaries.

“We look forward to working with partners to co-create the future and strengthen our culture of care. Together, we can dream of a future where thinking about one’s legacy and discussing planned gifts in everyday conversations are no longer the exception, but part and parcel of our giving culture,” said Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS.

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

News

All about legacy giving

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LEGACY giving is not the prerogative of the ultra-wealthy alone. That is the mindset the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) wants to inculcate with its latest movement – the Legacy Giving Initiative (LGI) – which was launched by a campaign called A Greater Gift last November.

According to a Social Pulse survey, while the majority of respondents (83 per cent) flagged awareness on what legacy giving is, only 33 per cent considered legacy as a means of giving, and just 3 per cent indicated they would take action.

Legacy gifts can be broadly defined as planned, future donations to charities, which include cash, marketable securities, insurance payouts, and CPF monies. Those looking to support a cause over a period of years can establish a donor-advised fund (DAF) with organisations such as CFS to manage grant distributions. Now, about six months after the Legacy Giving Initiative was launched, CFS is shifting into the knowledge phase of its initiative.

CFS chairperson Christine Ong said the foundation “will drive this phase by engaging with prospects and partners, conducting targeted research to gather data insights, and building formal alliances with multipliers”.

“The digitally-led campaign, A Greater Gift, has introduced people from different walks in life in Singapore to legacy giving,” she said.

CFS’ microsite on legacy giving has reached out to three key audiences – individuals, professional advisers and charities – receiving over 33,000 page views from 19,000 visitors since its launch and offering information on legacy giving.

Radio spots were also featured in the campaign, reaching over 1.3 million people.

Gregory Vijayendran, the president of The Law Society of Singapore, said that for the gift-giver, legacy giving has four advantages.

First, it allows the donor to give their own voice to their unique personality, values and beliefs for a cherished cause. Secondly, it creates a meaningful memorial to perpetuate the legacy of the donor, he said. Thirdly, it positively impacts subsequent generations through sustained giving. And, lastly, he said it deepens and lengthens the connection between the charity and the donor.

Ms Ong is keen to build on the momentum gained so far. She said that donors’ profiles with CFS have evolved over the last 12 years since it was set up.

“The younger generation is more interested to identify problems, or be more involved with understanding the issues and identifying the cause before they decide to set up a fund,” she said.

CFS is looking into ways to measure the social impact of the research programme.

“We hope to see how this can be done on a more standardised national level. We want donors to be more focused on the impact of their giving and, at the same time, allow charities to upscale, to make them better stewards to their donors,” said Ms Ong.

“CFS will be sharing knowledge on legacy giving, to empower and enable more individuals to plan and make legacy gifts. In addition, we will work with professional advisers by providing them with resources to help them ignite conversations with clients, and share its knowledge on legacy giving, as well as the potential of DAF, to empower and enable more individuals to plan and make legacy gifts.”

To date, CFS has cultivated over 400 professional advisers and charity representatives, through online events, seeding a network of conversation starters and multipliers for legacy giving.

Ms Ong said the aim is to send the broader message that “everyone can give”.

“Giving is not about the amount and you can start at any stage of your life. For those who can set up their own DAF, they can make a pledge – we will take pledges of S$200,000 and create funds for them,” she said.

“Regardless of one’s background and lifestyle, everyone can play a part in the shared ambition for a fairer and more sustainable Singapore.”

This article was originally published in The Business Times here. Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction

To find out more about Legacy Giving, kindly visit our Legacy Giving website or contact us here.

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Stories Of Impact

#MyGivingJourney X Corinna Lim: From legal advocate to leading gender equality advocate 

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The #MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS where stories of remarkable women in the philanthropy sector are being told. In this story, we feature Corrina Lim, Executive Director at AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research). 

Serendipity played a big part in Corinna Lim becoming Singapore’s leading advocate for gender equality. She was working as a lawyer when a colleague who was pregnant asked if she would like to take her place providing free legal advice in a community centre. It was the early 1990s and opportunities for pro bono work were very limited.  

Every month, Corinna listened to the problems of women who were dealing with family violence, unfaithful husbands, husbands who did not support the family or ex-spouses who reneged on maintenance commitments. “It gave me so much satisfaction to be able to help these women. I was dispensing fairly basic legal advice but they felt heard and were extremely grateful for my pragmatic approach,” she says.  

The work was so fulfilling that she joined AWARE, the Association of Women for Action and Research, when they opened their legal clinic in 1992. Twice a month, after a long day’s work, she would offer advice, hope and empathy to women about their legal rights and options. “But rather than feeling depleted after these sessions, I always felt energised,” she says. 

AWARE’s work struck a chord with Corinna because they tackled issues at the individual level as well as at the systemic level too, chipping away at barriers to gender equality. In 2010, almost 20 years after first signing on as a volunteer at AWARE, she left her corporate law career to become the first executive director of Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group. 

As she sees it, AWARE has made an immense impact by pioneering, in 2011, sexual assault support for survivors and creating awareness of the challenges faced by survivors here. AWARE has also helped change laws which have resulted in more effective protection from harassment and more equal benefits for single parents. Its advocacy work has also contributed to the repeal of marital rape immunity and decriminalisation of attempted suicide. 

AWARE also works closely with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which has long supported groups that help single mothers and marginalised women. Over the years, CFS has regularly facilitated grants from its donors to AWARE, including the recent grant call from Sayang Sayang Fund. Aside from this, CFS also collaborates with AWARE on research, most notably on a nationwide study on minimum household incomes.   

Although she studied for a career in law, Corinna knew from a very young age that she wanted to give back to society. Right out of university, she started a small enterprise to make products out of recycled paper. Later, even as she plugged away at a law firm, it was pro bono work that engaged her. “I did not find meaning practising as a lawyer, representing banks and corporations in their claims against smaller companies or individuals,” she says. Instead, she found her calling in NGO work. “Doing the work has made me a more empathetic and better human being,” says Corinna. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more stories from #MyGivingJourney series here. 

This article was written by Sunita Sue Leng, a former financial analyst and journalist, who believes that the written word can be a force for good. She hopes to someday write something worth plagiarising. 

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