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The Community Foundation of Singapore launches new Sayang Sayang Fund
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The Community Foundation of Singapore launches new Sayang Sayang Fund

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The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has established Sayang Sayang Fund to provide support for frontline healthcare workers as well as vulnerable communities impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“Many people have approached us asking how they can help. They want to recognise and show appreciation to the healthcare staff who work tirelessly during this period of the novel coronavirus outbreak. As the only community foundation in Singapore, we are best placed to connect donors and community partners, and come together to support the needs of the communities,” said Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS.

The target amount to be raised for the Sayang Sayang Fund is $500,000. $250,000 will be given in the form of $5 transport vouchers, as a gesture of appreciation, for healthcare frontline staff in public healthcare institutions such as hospitals and polyclinics to ease their commute to and from work. CFS has secured $84,000 in donations to-date. ComfortDelGro, the first transport provider to support the Fund, has pledged an initial batch of 1,000 taxi vouchers.

“We read with some distress that healthcare staff in uniforms have been ostracised, not just by the public but by the cabbies. Whilst we have yet to receive any complaints about such incidents, we want to reinforce the message that we appreciate all that the medical profession has been doing. Our gesture is small compared to what they have been contributing on a daily basis,” said Tammy Tan, Group Chief Corporate Communications Officer, ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited.

The remaining $250,000 will be disbursed across community partners supporting vulnerable communities such as seniors and families who are impacted by the heightened precautionary measures. CFS has received requests for funding to cover additional manpower costs for home visits for needy seniors and alternative food distribution channels to low income families.

Given the evolving nature of the situation, the Fund will adapt to the changing needs. CFS will work closely with community partners to address gaps ensuring that those in disadvantaged situations will still be able to get the aid they need.

The name Sayang Sayang is chosen because it is a local colloquial term that most people are familiar with. It is in line with the idea of showing love and appreciation to healthcare professionals who work hard to care for us, as well as to other communities who may be impacted by the COVID-19 situation.

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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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The Straits Times: Teen violinist with an astonishing maturity

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by Chang Tou Liang, 29 October 2016

“Fifty years ago, the classical music scene in Singapore was spearheaded by Goh Soon Tioe (1911-1982), violinist, pedagogue, conductor and all-round music entrepreneur.

His name lives on in the award created in his memory, given to exceptional young Singaporean string players and administered by his daughters Vivien and Sylvia, and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

The recipient of this year’s Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award is teenager Mathea Goh Xinyi, a student of former child prodigy Lee Huei Min, whose 75-minute solo recital distinguished her as a major talent to watch in years to come. There was nothing student-like in her playing, only an astonishing maturity that has to be experienced to be believed.” Read more

Photos: Adrian Tee of Pixelmusica

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TODAY – Successful philanthropy: Doing good takes more than just giving

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By Richard Hartung

Beyond just managing your money to meet your needs, donating to support good causes can benefit you and the broader community. The key to successful giving, though, is choosing the right causes and giving the right amounts. Increasingly, there are a host of tools and resources to help you decide.

IDENTIFY THE CAUSE
A good place to start is to figure out why you’re giving and what you want to support. And there are a variety of reasons people donate.

Some people are passionate about a particular cause, such as educating children, empowering women, saving animals and the environment, improving healthcare, or assisting the elderly. Others may want to support friends who are involved with a particular organisation, donate so they can become more engaged with people with similar interests, or gain public recognition for their generosity.

Whether you’re giving for one of these reasons or something else, taking the time to figure out your goal can lead to a more meaningful experience. As Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) CEO Catherine Loh told TODAY, “It is important to find the right fit, taking into consideration your values, charitable goals and impact you want to make. Ask yourself, why do you want to give back? What causes do you care about most? What kind of difference do you want to make?”
Read more.

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$1.35M Fund Set Up For Community Care Groups To Develop Fun Activities For Seniors

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Seniors can look forward to more activities to ease their loneliness and social isolation, thanks to a new $1.35 million fund that community care organisations can tap.

At the launch of the fund on Friday at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) chief executive Tan Kwang Cheak said social isolation among the elderly is a key concern as it is linked with poor physical and mental health.

“The current funding for the community care sector in Singapore generally supports capital expenditure, provision of essential medical care services to seniors, and solutions to increase staff productivity,” he said.

But the Fun! Fund will help organisations think of new ways for the seniors they serve to have fun, he added.

“We believe that participation in fun activities encourages seniors to feel connected, maintain their curiosity to seek new experiences, increase their life satisfaction and general sense of well-being, and bring much needed laughter and feel-good feelings for seniors.”

The fund was set up by AIC and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

Organisations can apply for a grant of up to $50,000 for each project, which should encourage seniors to be active, connect with others and keep learning.

The programmes must be easily sustained and replicated by different organisations and allow for the building of staff and volunteer capabilities.

The new fund is part of an agreement signed by AIC and the Community Foundation of Singapore on Friday to collaborate on initiatives to promote active ageing and business continuity for the community care sector.

The three-year partnership will focus on active ageing initiatives, supporting community care organisations in enhancing community spaces for seniors’ social activities, manpower development and recognition, and allow staff to continue operating in times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Kenny Low, the executive director of City Harvest Community Services Association, which runs a senior activity centre, said his organisation plans to scale up its Rummikub friendly competition, which it has organised for 130 seniors from six active ageing centres.

Similar to mahjong, the table tile game helps to prevent dementia as it requires hand-eye coordination and the manipulation of numbers.

He is also toying with the idea of a gesture remote-controlled car competition to encourage seniors to move about and visualise the motion of the cars, he said.

Sree Narayana Mission chief executive S. Devendran said he is keen to get young people on his team to brainstorm ideas and also join in the activities with seniors.

“When we think of fun, the most fun we had was when we were young. I’ll prompt them (the youth volunteers) with the tagline: When was the last time you did something fun for the first time?”

If you’d like to learn more about FUN! Fund, you can read more here.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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‘I thought I couldn’t go through any more of it’: Cancer patient gets help after insurer says ‘no’ to $33k bill

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Good Samaritans have stepped forward to help a cancer patient, who hopes to spend more quality time with her 15-year-old daughter while keeping the disease at bay.

The drug that Ms Koh Ee Miang, 45, needs to control the spread of her cancer is expensive, and her insurance company has refused to pay for it – leaving her with an outstanding bill of more than $33,000 for treatment carried out between November and January.

Hard-pressed to pay for the drug, she stopped the treatment in January and reverted to basic chemotherapy. Her cancer markers jumped 50 per cent and her tumour grew.

Her oncologist, Dr Choo Su Pin of Curie Oncology, put her back on the targeted therapy treatment and offered to let her pay in instalments. Said Dr Choo: “The treatment works. Do I stop her medicine?”

The drug not only slows the spread of the cancer, it also reduces pain and has fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Both patient and doctor were in a quandary over the high cost of the treatment after insurers rejected the claim.

Ms Koh is a housewife who says she hopes to take her 15-year-old daughter on a holiday to leave her with “happy memories” since the prognosis for her cancer, which is fourth stage, is not good – with only 2 per cent surviving five years.

The story of her plight in The Straits Times has resulted in several offers of help.

The Community Foundation of Singapore, set up in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy, reached out to the Emma Yong Fund – named after one of the stars of the musical cabaret group Dim Sum Dollies, who died of stomach cancer at the age of 36 – for help.

The Fund agreed to pay the $33,000 bill that was outstanding.

Fund administrator Selena Tan said though the fund was set up to help theatre practitioners, she was happy to extend the help to Ms Koh.

“Knowing Emma’s legacy and desire to help patients with cancer, it felt right to help cover 100 per cent of Ms Koh’s medical bills so that she can focus on her treatment and recovery, and not feel distressed by her bills,” she said.

Several readers also offered smaller sums to help defray the cost.

And AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company that produces the Enhertu drug she now needs, has offered to provide her with it. It costs about $10,000 per treatment. However, this is subject to certain compliance issues, which Dr Choo is hoping to resolve.

A grateful Ms Koh said: “Their kindness helps me feel less alone. And just when I thought I couldn’t go through anymore of it (it has been two years of chemotherapy treatment and its side effects), they help me push on in spite of weariness.”

She would like to thank all the “generous people whom I’ve never met” for their kind offers. She will not be accepting their offers, since help from the Emma Yong Fund and AstraZeneca is enough for her to continue with the treatment.

Ms Koh suffers from a rare cancer – human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 positive (HER2+) bile duct cancer – which afflicts about one in 3,500 cancer patients.

After it was diagnosed in June 2020, Dr Choo first put Ms Koh on standard chemotherapy treatment. When she stopped responding to the treatment, a second choice was used, but this too was not able to stop the spread of the cancer.

Oncologists say there are no standard treatments beyond this.

Dr Choo decided to put her on a drug that targets the HER2 protein, which causes cancers to spread much faster, to try to contain the disease. It worked.

But Great Eastern, the insurer with whom Ms Koh has a private hospital as-charged Integrated Shield Plan (IP), as well as a rider that pays the full cost of her portion of the bill, refused to pay for the new treatment.

GE said the IP contract has a clause saying it covers only drugs that have been approved for specific illnesses. The drug she was put on has only been approved by the Health Sciences Authority for HER+ breast cancer, and not for bile duct cancer.

More than a dozen oncologists The Straits Times spoke to said it is difficult to conduct large scale clinical trials for rare cancers – since patient numbers are low. And all said they do use drugs “off-label” – meaning the drug has been approved here, but not for that specific cancer, especially for the less common cancers.

Drug companies often feel the returns are not worth the cost and work required to seek approvals from regulators for such low numbers.

Dr Choo, who was chief of Gastrointestinal Oncology at National Cancer Centre Singapore before leaving for private practice in 2018, said there are some small-scale studies showing that the drug does work on the type of cancer Ms Koh has.

Insurers offering IP plans, which are integrated with MediShield Life, are divided on coverage of drugs which doctors think might help, but which are not specifically approved by the HSA.

At least three – AIA, Income and AXA – say they would cover such drugs. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the basic MediShield Life national health insurance would also pay, subject to a monthly cap of $3,000.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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