In her 40 years with Singapore Children’s Society, Mrs Mae-Lim Hoon Ann has changed many lives. Yet, she believes that she, herself, has been the biggest winner of this journey.
“I have been the ‘chief beneficiary’ because I have learnt so much, and have been able to work alongside like-minded volunteers,” says the 77-year-old, who served on the Society’s Board from 1983 to 2017. Currently, she remains as a member of the Children in Care and Research and Advocacy Standing Committees.
A nurse by training, Mrs Mae-Lim joined the Society in 1983 and later served as its Honorary Assistant Secretary.
“It was during a group tour to China organised by the Singapore Professional Centre that I came to know Chairman Mr Koh Choon Hui who was on the same tour. I joined the tour in my capacity as a volunteer with the Singapore Trained Nurses Association (now known as Singapore Nurses Association),” she remembers.
In the 80s, the administrative team at Children’s Society was lean, which meant she had to be hands-on with the day-to-day operations of the Society, organising office moves, and even designing seating plans.
“It felt like I was moving homes,” she laughs.
Over the years, Mrs Mae-Lim has worked closely alongside stalwart volunteers, including the late Prof John Elliott, who led numerous research initiatives for the Society. They worked together to produce the book Singapore Childhood: Our Stories Then and Now, which was published in 2012.
She served as the Editor of the Sunbeam newsletter for a decade, between 1997 to 2007, and organised the last milestone anniversary celebration for the Society, when it turned 60.
She was also the Chairperson of the 6th ISPCAN Asian Regional Conference 2005. For the event’s opening ceremony, she proposed sidestepping the conventional route, ditching a formal welcome speech in favour of a sketch.
“In the sketch, there was an ice-cream man who – to everyone’s surprise – turned out to be our Chairman Mr Koh Choon Hui. I thought it was very sporting of Choon Hui to accede to this unusual request,” she says.
What she loves most about volunteering is how the Society is able to pull together people from various walks of life.
She, herself, appreciates having been given the opportunity to serve, and draw on her ability of being able to connect with a wide range of people.
“The Society does not judge one based on background, status, or even connections. What is more important is whether a person has the heart and vision to serve, and is able to work with others,” she says.
Her wish as the Society turns 70 is that it continues to find new ways to help, while remembering its humble beginnings.
“We must maintain our benevolence and continue to stay true to our mission and vision.”