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The Peak Singapore: How responsible businesses can make their philanthropic dollars travel further
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The Peak Singapore: How responsible businesses can make their philanthropic dollars travel further

John Doe
John Doe
picture of CFS CEO Catherine Loh sitting on a chair

While more companies are heeding the call to give back to the community, selecting a worthy cause and monitoring the use of donations may be a complex task. That’s where the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) comes in. It helps corporations develop a long-term philanthropy strategy, find suitable charity partners, and track the outcome of donations.

“We help donors go beyond what they can do on their own, and identify charity partners who can provide accountability,” says Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS.

One way of creating greater impact is to look at fresh ways of addressing community needs, suggests Loh. Take UBS’ Diversity in Abilities arts education programme, which aims to develop the talents of children and youth with special needs. After attending the programme, participants are able to concentrate better and have an overall improvement in the pace of learning. Such potentially beneficial initiatives can be made possible only by corporations that have a higher appetite for risk and are willing to support them, says Loh.

In terms of managing charitable dollars, both donor and recipient must agree on how the money will be used, the duration of the funding and the kind/depth of reporting required, Loh says. More importantly, she adds, companies should adopt the mindset of a partner and view philanthropy as a “learning journey”.

“Just like any business project, things can go wrong. Sometimes, it could be a misreading of community needs, or there could be physical or manpower constraints faced by the charity. We hope to take corporates on a philanthropic journey, to help them gain insight into what it takes to make a meaningful change.” Read more.

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Stories Of Impact

Seniors Colabs learning journey #3: St Theresa’s Home – where horses and hawker centres help seniors feel at home

John Doe
John Doe
A man guiding a horse through a room,with wheelchair bound people showcasing the unique bond between humans and animals.

While most people accept that ageing is inevitable, the prospect of spending their twilight years in a nursing home fills many with dread. It is not hard to imagine why. The mental associations are gloomy – sterile environments, impersonal care and intrusive communal living.

By tackling these stereotypes head-on, one local nursing home is determined to shift mindsets about residential aged care. Through its human-centred care philosophy, the management at St Theresa’s Home (formerly the Little Sisters of the Poor) firmly believes that as society progresses, nursing homes can be a conducive place for seniors to thrive as they age.

Early on a weekday morning, a group of Colabs participants from various sectors came to volunteer at an equine therapy session at St Theresa’s Home. Standing amidst the lush greenery, it was easy to forget that one was in a nursing home. Perched atop a hill, the sprawling estate’s pre-war architecture offers the warmth and charm of yesteryear, while providing shady nooks for gardening corners cared for by residents.

Joshua Chui, Deputy Director, took the team on his rounds. Calling out and responding to each resident by name, he stopped by Madam Rose (not her real name) and cheerfully asked why she was back on her wheelchair when she could walk the short distance previously. Mr Chui explained that residents are encouraged to carry out their activities of daily living as independently as possible. While there are set times for meals and baths, they are free to choose what to eat, when to begin and end their day, as well as what they want to do in between. Once a week, various groups of residents look forward to their breakfast outing to a nearby hawker centre.

A walk through the airy dormitories provided glimpses of the residents there. Photographs and personal knick-knacks were proudly displayed. The array of colourful bed linen reflected the residents’ individual tastes. Along the way, Colabs participants noticed that beds and wardrobes were thoughtfully angled away from each other, noting the home’s sensitivity towards the residents’ need for privacy.

Finally, at a quiet sheltered shed, two calm and stately horses stood ready for their ‘duties’. Their handlers and trainers from Equal Ark explained the workings and benefits of equine therapy for improving the psychological health of seniors. Working with the residents, Colabs participants were able to witness first-hand how interaction with the friendly animals lifted their countenance and spirits.

It was a thought-provoking morning for Colabs participants at St Theresa’s Home. The home’s commitment towards empowering seniors to live independently, while preserving each resident’s identity and dignity left a lasting impression. Their progressive approach, and vision for creating a community for seniors to age in a ‘home within a home’ encouraged and inspired everyone.

Colabs is a philanthropic initiative by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. It drives collaboration by bringing together the public, private and social sectors to tackle complex social issues. It enables philanthropists, businesses, non-profits and sector experts to collectively build insights and co-create solutions for lasting change.

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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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Opinion

Accessing Quality Education: A Boost for the Last Leg

John Doe
John Doe
A photo of individuals wearing face masks, posing together for a group picture

As a follow-up to our last story, we now take a look at children as the next generation, and how we can empower them through philanthropy to be further educated.

Education is the great equaliser, as the old adage goes. Coined by American public education pioneer Horace Mann in 1848, education was seen as the tool for the disadvantaged to basically find better jobs and lift themselves out of poverty. For the last almost 200 years, that has remained largely true.

However, when an individual’s educational journey begins, factors such as the quality of education received and extracurricular resources have resulted in education itself being a source of inequality in society.

Which brings us to the maxim that “one has to spend money to make money”. In Singapore, preschool education, extra tuition, coaching lessons and post-secondary education all cost money (Dollars and Sense, 2022 and MoneySmart, 2022). Not every family will be able to afford that for their children.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) supports programmes which boost the pre-, primary and secondary school education of children and youth from challenging backgrounds. It is important, however, that these minds continue to be nurtured as far as possible; not just for the sake of the youth and their families, but also for the sake of society, in which these youths will hopefully become contributing members.

For the families, the primary reason is that the higher an educational qualification one has, the stronger one’s earning power (Ministry of Manpower, 2021), enabling them to break out of the poverty cycle.

At a societal level, Singapore needs to maintain its highly skilled and educated workforce, which is what helps to keep our economy so competitive on the global landscape (EDB, 2022). To do this, it is imperative, as maintained by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, that the relevant skills are imparted, including through tertiary and continued education (The Straits Times, 2022).

It is heartening to know that many donors with CFS have chosen and continue to support the tertiary education of youths: from financial assistance for living expenses for Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students and study grants at polytechnics to awards and scholarships at universities, and more.

The late President Mr Nathan himself was a staunch supporter of helping tertiary students in need. The S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) was set up 11 years ago and has supported over 1,600 students since, including students from ITE, various polytechnics, the National University of Singapore and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

“The SRNEUF believes in supporting youth from under-privileged backgrounds, giving them the chance to continue with their higher education so as to better realise their potential,” says Mr Bobby Chin, Grant Advisory Committee Chairman of the SRNEUF. “We are happy to have supported hundreds of youths over the years to further their education.”

One such SRNEUF beneficiary is SUSS student Iqbal, who aspires to be a social worker focusing on helping youth-at-risk or supporting the medical field. He shares that the study grant benefited him tremendously, helping his family with household expenses and allowing him to be more independent.

His cohort mate Pearlyn, also a SRNEUF beneficiary, reveals her dream to extend her help to society, after being inspired by the help from others that her family received during a crisis in 2020. On top of studying, she is tutoring primary school children to relieve the burden on her parents. She too expresses huge gratitude for the financial assistance from the SRNEUF.

Another CFS donor, who prefers anonymity, has been supporting ITE students with financial assistance for tuition fees, essential living expenses and even provided laptops. They also continued their support for ITE students who have gotten into polytechnics.

Jonathan Siong, one of their beneficiaries, shared: “When the pandemic hit, times were hard for many foreign students like myself, and my family was struggling. However, the donors helped me when I needed it the most. Without them, my education path would have stopped right at ITE.” He says that words cannot describe how thankful he is for their support and he hopes to become successful and in turn give back to the community.

Expressing her personal thanks to her benefactors, ITE alumna Chow Ying Shu, appreciates their contribution to her education as it helps to reduce her financial burdens, which in turn allows her to focus on her studies. She is currently pursuing her diploma in Hotel Management with their support. “This makes my goals that much more reachable,” she says, adding that their generosity will motivate her and serve as a reminder to always give back to society whenever she can in the future.

CFS appreciates all donors who are supporting youth from disadvantaged backgrounds in achieving their dreams and maximising their potential. Thanks to them, the future of the students as well as the Singaporean community looks a lot brighter.

To find out how you can support tertiary students from challenging backgrounds rise above adversity, please visit https://www.cf.org.sg/giving/ways-to-give/.

This article was written CFS Principal Consultant Reutens-Tan. He is an experienced sustainability advocate and practitioner, working closely with charities to build thriving communities, which he believes is key to a sustainable Singapore.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Dollars and Sense. (12 January 2022). How Much Do You Need To Afford A Full-Time Polytechnic Course In Singapore? https://dollarsandsense.sg/cost-guide-how-much-do-you-need-to-afford-a-full-time-polytechnic-course-in-singapore/  

Ministry of Manpower. (June 2021). Median Gross Monthly Income from Work (Including Employer CPF) of Full-Time Employed Residents Aged Fifteen Years and Over by Highest Qualification Attained, Age and Sex. https://stats.mom.gov.sg/iMAS_Tables1/LabourForce/LabourForce_2021/mrsd_2021LabourForce_T25.xlsx 

MoneySmart. (15 June 2022). NUS, NTU, SMU & Other Singapore University Degrees – How Much Do They Cost in 2022? https://blog.moneysmart.sg/education/singapore-university-education-cost/ 

Singapore Economic Development Board. (1 July 2022). World-class talent. https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/why-singapore/world-class-talent.html 

The Straits Times. (27 April 2022). Skills training must improve on 4 fronts for S’pore workforce to stay competitive: Chan Chun Sing. https://str.sg/w86n

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Opinion

Four critical gaps in improving employability for all

John Doe
John Doe
Four people in green shirts working on soil in a gardening project.

A person in a wheelchair with much to give. A stay-at-home mum who misses working. An ex-offender who yearns for a second chance. A senior forced to retire early. These are some examples of people who want to work. They believe they can contribute to society. They also deserve the basic right to work and should not be denied from doing so.

Yet, many of them face difficulties in securing decent jobs. In recent years, the gig economy opened up opportunities for individuals facing barriers to traditional employment or those who need flexibility. However, gig work comes with its own set of challenges, such as unstable income and a lack of employment benefits.

Through our years on the ground partnering with local charities, social service agencies and research organisations, we at CFS have identified four groups – ex-inmates, persons with disabilities (PWDs), seniors, and women – that face challenges in securing gainful employment due to bias, unfair practices, or lack of accessibility. This, in turn, can lock them and their families in a vicious cycle of hardship. 

Employment needs to become more inclusive and provide fair opportunities to everyone. In Singapore, workplace anti-discrimination guidelines are being enshrined into law, but there is still more work to be done. This is where philanthropy can make a significant difference. At CFS, we connect donors with charities and programmes that uplift the employability of marginalised people.

We work with charities that build awareness of individual and structural barriers in the workplace and advocate for change. They are also empowering disenfranchised job seekers by providing skills training, job matching, mentoring and more. Read on to learn about the realities faced by disadvantaged people and how you can help.

Building Disability-Inclusive Workplaces 

About 15 per cent of the global population, or over one billion individuals, have a disability. This makes persons with disabilities (PWDs) one of the world’s biggest minority groups (World Bank, 2023). In Singapore, only 30 per cent of PWDs of working age are employed. The government hopes to raise this figure to 40 per cent by 2030 (The Straits Times, 17 August 2022). Barriers include the prevailing bias that disabled people are less productive and troublesome to accommodate in the workplace.  

Organisations like the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) and SG Enable, an agency for disability, are striving to change attitudes and help employers create disability-friendly workplaces. Companies are also encouraged to open up work-from-home opportunities to those who are less mobile. Hiring more PWDs and giving them meaningful careers will translate to overall gains in labour force productivity for Singapore going forward.  

Attracting Female Talent to Close the Gender Gap 

Better education and changes in attitudes towards gender-based roles have paved the way for more women to have careers. Between 2012 and 2021, Singapore’s female labour force participation grew from 57.7 per cent to 64.2 per cent. However, it still remains lower than men’s at 77.2 per cent (Statista). 

The gender gap emerges when women enter their 30s. This is typically the age when they assume more care responsibilities (Ministry of Manpower, 2022). Women continue to bear the brunt of caregiving and domestic responsibilities while juggling work. The gap, unfortunately, widens over time. Taking time off work can complicate re-entry into the workplace, creating knock-on effects throughout a women’s career. 

Yet, there is a clear business imperative to leveraging female talent. Gender diversity benefits companies as women often contribute different skills and perspectives, boosting growth, innovation, and productivity (International Monetary Fund, 2018).

While a growing number of organisations are waking up to this, there is much more room for female-friendly recruitment and retention practices. This includes flexible working arrangements, opportunities for progression and leadership, and help for mothers returning to work.

Reintegrating Ex-offenders into the Economy  

Ex-offenders are among the most marginalised and stigmatised people in our community. They face unique challenges in finding and sustaining gainful employment. Just 53 per cent of ex-offenders found jobs three months after their release – a figure that has stayed stagnant between 2017 and 2019 (Ministry of Home Affairs, 2020).

One reason is that ex-offenders who spend long periods in jail may not have the skills that are in demand, such as digital expertise. Moreover, with their limited social networks, they tend to be disconnected from market trends, knowledge of training opportunities and subsidies. That instantly puts them on a weaker footing.

Progress has been made through the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Employment Preparation Scheme, which allows ex-offenders to attend training and educational activities outside of prison during their sentences. But more can be done to help ex-offenders avoid a vicious circle. Without good jobs and long-term employment prospects, it will be harder for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives, placing them at a high risk of reoffending. 

Addressing Age-Based Employment Discrimination  

Three in four workers in Singapore do not intend to retire before 65 (The Straits Times, 3 July 2022). For many older people, working provides income and purpose and bolsters their physical and mental well-being.

Despite this, age was cited as the top reason for prejudice towards older jobseekers in a Ministry of Manpower survey (Today, 23 March 2022). Older people are stereotyped as “slow” and “less trainable”. Some may be less educated, putting them at risk of being displaced by technology. Employers may prefer to train younger employees, who are seen as having more room to grow.

The issue is especially pressing as Singapore is fast becoming a super-aged society. While upcoming anti-discrimination laws will help, companies should also take the lead and build a multigenerational workforce. Older workers bring experience and a diversity of views to the table, which will be a source of strength.  

How You Can Help

With your generosity, you could help fund programmes that improve the employability of disadvantaged Singaporeans struggling to find work. As a cause-neutral philanthropic advisor, CFS is well-placed to help you navigate the various programmes available and tailor a giving plan based on your goals and interests. 

Efforts to address barriers to employment fall into three broad areas:

  • Development of skillsets (educational, technical/vocational training, and soft skills development) 
  • Exposure to career pathways (employer engagement and career support) 
  • Encouraging sustainable careers (getting supervisors and colleagues to accommodate marginalised individuals)

The simplest and most cost-effective way to help fund different programmes that tackle employability is by setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF). An individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office can set up a DAF. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our experience and network to ensure your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful.  

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to their DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs. CFS is the first to bring in DAFs into Singapore and is currently the largest provider with over 220 DAFs and Community Impact Funds.  

If you would like to begin your giving journey with CFS, do get in touch with us.

References

International Monetary Fund. (28 November 2018). Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion: Even Greater than You Thoughthttps://www.imf.org/en/Blogs/Articles/2018/11/28/blog-economic-gains-from-gender-inclusion-even-greater-than-you-thought

Ministry of Home Affairs. (14 October 2020). Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Employment Rate of Ex-offenders, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law. https://www.mha.gov.sg/mediaroom/parliamentary/written-reply-to-parliamentary-question-on-the-employment-rate-of-ex-offenders-by-mr-k-shanmugam-minister-for-home-affairs-and-minister-for-law/ 

Ministry of Manpower. (1 December 2022). Summary Table: Labour Force. https://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Labour-Force-Summary-Table.aspx 

Statista. Labor force participation rate of women in Singapore from 2012 to 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/951113/singapore-female-labor-force-participation-rate/

The Straits Times. (17 August 2022). Singapore aims to have 40% of working-age persons with disabilities employed by 2030. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-aims-to-have-40-per-cent-of-working-age-persons-with-disabilities-employed-by-2030

The Straits Times. (3 July 2022). 3 in 4 older workers don’t intend to retire before 65; reasons include staying active, having purpose. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jobs/3-in-4-older-workers-dont-intend-to-retire-before-65-reasons-include-staying-active-having-purpose 

Today. (23 March 2022). Discrimination against workers and jobseekers declined, but ageism still prevalent: MOM survey. https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/discrimination-workers-jobseekers-declined-ageism-prevalent-mom-survey-1851551

World Bank. (3 April 2023). Disability Inclusion.
https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/disability#:~:text=Persons%20with%20disabilities%2C%20on%20average,outcomes%20than%20persons%20without%20disabilities.&text=Results-,One%20billion%20people%2C%20or%2015%25%20of%20the%20world’s%20population%2C,is%20higher%20for%20developing%20countries.

 

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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News

Singapore Tatler: Community Foundation of Singapore Celebrates 10th Anniversary

John Doe
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

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”。

admin bluecube
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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.

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