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Business Times: The beauty of giving to those you do not know
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Business Times: The beauty of giving to those you do not know

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A snapshot of a newspaper Business Times: The beauty of giving to those you don't know

Govind Bommi, 71, is well known to regulars at the Metta Day Rehabilitation Centre for the Elderly.

The businessman and philanthropist spends his Thursday mornings volunteering at the Tampines centre, befriending seniors who are there to receive physiotherapy or other forms of rehabilitative care after conditions such as a stroke, Parkinson’s or arthritis.

He does not speak Mandarin or any of the Chinese dialects that most of the regulars are most comfortable with. But that’s been no barrier to friendship.

“You hold their hand, and usually offer the hand that they can use, as some are stroke patients. It’s all about connecting,” says Mr Bommi, a Singapore permanent resident and naturalised US citizen.

One might think this began with his decision to set up a charity fund in Singapore, after spending 20 years here. But Mr Bommi would tell you that seeds were sown far earlier in his childhood, by his mother’s selfless giving to people she did not know.

A mother’s influence
“We didn’t have much when we were growing up… it was hand-to-mouth,” says Mr Bommi, originally from Bangalore, India. All five children shared a small bedroom, and the family lived off their father’s hard-earned income. “Yet, whatever we had, we shared.”

He wasn’t speaking merely of siblings sharing. Beggars would knock at their doors each evening, and his mother, Andal, always found something to give. “It was not leftovers. Even though we didn’t have much, she would cook and keep some aside because she knew that they would come ask for food,” he recalls.

His mother’s largeness of heart only grew with time.

Once, as a grown man in his 40s, Mr Bommi made his annual trip back to India to visit his then 75-year-old mother. One of the first things she said? She had told a young man with a terrible skin problem, boils all over his face, to come see her son, and Mr Bommi was to take him to his doctor friends.

“I asked her, ‘Who is he? How do you know him?” And she just looked at me and said, “I don’t know. Do you have to know who he is, to help him?” That really struck a chord,” says Mr Bommi.

“When you want to help, helping someone you know is easier to do. My son, my child, my niece, my friend, my neighbour – when you have a “my” attached to anything, it is easier. It’s an extension of you, it’s easier to give. Now, to give to somebody that you do not know – that’s what my mother talked about.”

Mr Bommi himself has been on the receiving end of strangers’ kindness and giving too.

Arriving in the US as a 21-year-old, on money borrowed from a friend, Mr Bommi knew no one. Through those early months of adjusting to life in a foreign land and navigating the stress of changing schools and moving, he found some solace each night in lighting up a little prayer lamp his mother had given him.

A rough settling-in was made smoother by strangers who helped, says Mr Bommi. There was the Jesuit priest who helped him find accommodation, and then the Canadian-French family whose home he eventually lived in, among others.

These experiences led him to believe that most people are compassionate. “You see someone not well, hurt, the human instinct would be to go help. Thought manifests itself into words. Further on, the words manifest into actions… Most people will have the thought, but for whatever reason, it’s not shown.”

Taking action
Mr Bommi is not one to just let a thought be.

2015 marked his twentieth year in Singapore. He had arrived in Singapore as an expat, posted by his American company to be a regional director here. But when his term was up, he decided to stay on, started his own water filtration and purification business, and married a Singaporean.

Singapore is now home to him, he says. “I thought: now that I’ve settled down in Singapore, I wanted to do some charity work here.”

He had already set up a charitable foundation in India, Andal Cares, named for his mother. “All the blessings that we have – good health, good family, good wealth – all of that, we have to share…. We are only temporary keepers of this wealth – we have to share it. It’s been given to us for a purpose, to share.”

And so, he told his lawyer, he wanted to do the same here. But, he soon realised that it would take considerable time and resources to set a foundation up, find the right people to run it, meet governance requirements, and handle the administrative work involved. His lawyer pointed him to the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), as an option that could provide charitable fund management and philanthropy advice.

Given his desire to support eldercare services, CFS staff took him to visit nursing homes and rehabilitation centres to give him a better appreciation of Singapore’s eldercare landscape. Which is how he first discovered the work of Metta Day Rehabilitation Centre.

“Through the visits, I got a clearer idea of the different types and needs of eldercare support here. CFS helped to build on my interests, and hone in on the causes and impact I want to make, so that I could find a focus for my giving,” he said.

In March 2016, Mr Bommi started the Andal Cares Fund with S$250,000, under CFS, to support the Metta centre. He has since pledged to raise that sum to a seven-figure amount over several years.

Getting to know those you help
“CFS did an excellent job of setting up and managing my charitable fund, taking care of all the ground work for me – from evaluating programmes, conducting due diligence and disbursing grants, to reporting on impact. That’s a big relief for me as it frees up my time to concentrate on my volunteer work with the community,” says Mr Bommi.

His people-centred approach of giving also led Mr Bommi to support, through CFS, a pilot programme by Metta Welfare Association called “We are Bonded”. The programme introduces young befrienders to elderly persons, with the aim of building emotional bonds and enhancing well-being, while studying the benefits of inter-generational bonding.

“From my volunteer work with Metta, I observed that even though seniors are being physically rehabilitated, many of them experience loneliness or isolation and are emotionally withdrawn. Through this programme, we hope that we will be able to better understand and tackle the emotional issues of an ageing population.”

Because as much as he believes in the value of giving to those whom you don’t know, he also believes in getting to know the ones receiving his gifts.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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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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Our Annual Report 2021 is now available for download

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John Doe
cover of CFS annual report

We are pleased to share that the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) Annual Report 2021 has been published. Download your copy here to learn more about the year’s highlights and our impact on the community. 

Even as the pandemic gripped our nation, we are humbled to report that – together with our donors, charities, and partners – CFS delivered a year of bold action and made tremendous progress on our mission to facilitate impactful giving.

CFS delivered a record of $24 million in grants – the highest since our inception – disbursed to 291 organisations and 13 individuals, and a total of $5.7 million via the establishment of 19 new funds for the financial year ended 31 March 2021.

The Annual Report contains the following information:

  • Corporate Information 
  • Key Highlights
  • Forward Vision
  • Governance and Policies
  • Financial Statements
  • Grantees List

Regarding the year under review, the report reflects the information contained in CFS’ annual results, as well as the audited consolidated financial statements. 

CFS stands ready to work alongside all of you to champion greater giving and create a better world for future generations. To find out more about CFS, get in touch with us.

About CFS

The Community Foundation of Singapore is a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore. We match donors’ interests with causes and offer ways for them to make a greater impact through their charitable funds. We also collaborate with charity partners to identify and develop programmes that support diverse communities. 

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Singapore Tatler: Community Foundation of Singapore Celebrates 10th Anniversary

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John Doe
A group pf individuals from CFS posing together

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) was founded during a tumultuous time. Chairman Laurence Lien recalled that it was during the global financial crisis of 2008 and Lehman Brothers had just collapsed—hardly good news for a non-profit organisation that was set up to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore. But now, 10 years later, 113 charitable funds have been established with CFS, which has raised more than $100m and disbursed around $60m to over 400 charitable organisations in Singapore, said CEO Catherine Loh at its 10th anniversary celebrations at The Arts House, which was graced by minister Grace Fu as its guest of honour. Lien and Loh also paid tribute to its donors and charity partners, and encouraged one and all to not only give more, but give well and channel them for impact. CFS’ three-pronged focus in the coming years—collaboration, legacy and impact—will guide its purpose of building a philanthropic culture in Singapore.
Read more.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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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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Around 7,000 school children in need of support for meals

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John Doe
Children happily sitting on the floor, smiling and radiating joy.

A four-week ‘circuit breaker’ is the latest challenge to hit Singapore, as a pre-emptive strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19. As students transition to over three weeks of learning at home, about 7,000 children will miss access to food they would normally get in school, compounding difficulties in continuing their education at home.

As mentioned in Parliament by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat on 7 April 2020, CFS today bolstered efforts to generate support for the Sayang Sayang Fund (SSF). Donations to this fund will complement the work of local public health, non-profit and government entities with emergency support.

CFS now seeks another $3 million for the SSF, to meet evolving and urgent needs of the community. This includes the launch of Recess@Home, a meal programme that will provide disadvantaged students with support for their meals and ensure that children do not go hungry.

Speaking on the SSF, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Foundation of Singapore, Ms Catherine Loh shared, “During these tough times, we hope that the Sayang Sayang Fund will be able to provide immediate and longer-term support not just for the frontline workers but also the vulnerable groups like low-income families and elderly. With programmes such as Recess@Home, we want to help the children whose families are already dealing with many other difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Community Foundation of Singapore and the Sayang Sayang Fund remain sensitive to the needs of the community and we urge everyone to rally together to overcome this challenging period.”

CFS raised $1.1 million earlier after the launch of SSF in February. However, the increasing severity of the COVID-19 situation and more adverse impact on the economy and society have seen a surge in the demand for charity services.

Donors wishing to donate can do so via PayNow or visit our SSF campaign at giving.sg. Should you require any assistance or if you would like to set up your personal giving campaign in support of the SSF, please visit https://www.cf.org.sg/ or contact us at contactus@cf.org.sg.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

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

2023 Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award Winner Megan Low: Music is her Ikigai

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John Doe
A woman in a white dress sits on stairs, gracefully holding a violin.

Congratulations to Megan Low, this year’s winner of the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award, which supports young Singaporean musicians who have consistently demonstrated outstanding musicianship and performance. The Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Fund, a donor-advised fund which CFS has managed for over a decade, honours the legacy of Mr. Goh Soon Tioe, a pioneering and accomplished violinist, conductor, and teacher.

Megan is thrilled to be joining the community of previous award winners and is excited about the performance opportunities that come with the award. The prize money will help defray the cost of a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance, which Megan hopes to pursue after graduation.  She is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree in Violin Performance at the prestigious Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of internationally-renowned violinist Zuo Jun.

Of her success, she says, “My parents have been my biggest inspiration in my music journey and have supported me every step of the way. They taught me that success only comes with hard work. They also taught me the concept of Ikigai – where one’s passion, mission, vocation, and profession overlap and becomes your reason for being.”

It was her parents who filled their home with classical music and inspired her to ask for violin lessons at the age of three and then piano lessons at seven. At sixteen, she made her solo debut with the Orchestra of the Music Makers.

Megan’s passion for performance has taken her to many stages locally and abroad, from Asia to Europe and the US. Most recently, her piano trio won the first prize at the 17th Cecilia International Music Competition 2023 in Japan.

The young musician is most accomplished at playing Romantic music, yet her most memorable experience was performing the complex Baroque masterpiece, Bach’s ‘St John’s Passion’. Megan says, “I most enjoy collaborative music-making in chamber music and small ensemble groups. I would love to dive deeper into that in the future.”

A believer in the restorative power of music, Megan also harnesses her musical talent as a gift to uplift others. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she and her peers held a workshop for the staff at Sengkang General Hospital, in which they introduced music as an avenue for stress relief and creative expression. The tunes created during the workshop were sampled and turned into an original soundtrack, which was then played in the hospital lobby. During the Christmas season, Megan and her friends also brought cheer to the residents at the All Saints Home by performing familiar tunes.

As she embarks on a promising music career, this young lady hopes to continue performing and teaching music – her ikigai – for as long as she can.

Learn how you can work with CFS to support talented musicians like Megan and boost Singapore’s arts scene –  https://www.cf.org.sg/giving/ways-to-give/

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