While others were dressing up for an evening out or gathering with loved ones for dinner on New Year's Eve, Rathi Preetha and her 11-year-old son Ayush were walking the streets of Choa Chu Kang (CCK) distributing goodie bags to children who were out with their families to attend New Year's events at Keat Hong Community Club (KHCC).
"I thought it was a fun and meaningful way to spend time with my son" the 39-year-old preschool teacher says, adding that the mother-son duo was able to enjoy the fireworks before heading home.
As a Families for Life (FFL) Parent Peer Support Group (PPSG) volunteer, Rathi began participating in such activities in 2021. She began participating in FFL's Zoom activities online during the COVID -19 pandemic and, encouraged by the fun her family was having, decided to do her part.
Every two to three months, she volunteers at FFL activities in CCK and other nearby areas. These events are designed to help bring parents and children together in the neighbourhood so they can support each other in their journey as parents and learn that they are not alone.
"Whether it's sharing simple lobangs, fun new places to go, the latest activities in Singapore, or how we deal with common problems, it's great to have a supportive network," Rathi enthuses.
Finding meaning in doing good
Yet, making time to volunteer is no mean feat for the mum-of-two, who starts her day at 5.30am each morning, and only reaches home around 7pm at night—and still must fit in space for chores and family. Despite having limited “me-time”, Rathi reiterates that she enjoys being a Parent Support Group Volunteer.
Besides seeing value in helping others through their parenting struggles, she has always “loved working with children,” she explains.
She recalls how during a meet-up session between CCK and Punggol residents at the CCK community centre, many children were initially shy, and unwilling to leave their parents’ sides. She started with just a few children playing her organised games, but soon, the rest were drawn by their laughter and joined in. “They all ended up having a good time,” Rathi recalls, adding that it is moments like this—where she can bring joy to others—that make her volunteering work so rewarding.
A way to spend time with family
Rathi has also found that volunteering is a good way for her to strengthen family bonds with her children. “I think it is important to make time to connect with them, especially now that they have way too many digital distractions that don’t involve real life connection,” she explains.
She adds: “Volunteering has also given them an opportunity to meet and interact with people from different walks of life.” For example, she brought her 5-year-old daughter, Anshu to a Chingay Parade event, where she and other volunteers taught children to make figurines with air-dry clay. Anshu was able to enjoy the craft with her mother and play with another child with special needs, learning valuable lessons about inclusion.
Reflecting on the time-concerns other working parents may have about volunteering, Rathi shares that the key is to plan in advance, so the children can join her, or her husband can step in to care for them while she is away.
Matter-of-factly, she states: “It is only a few hours a month.” Her wish? That other working parents will like her, find the same joy, connection, and meaning through volunteering.
Wondering about how you can start a meaningful activity with your family? Learn more about volunteering with our friendly team at Families for Life today!