A secular and non-affiliated charity, Willing Hearts is primarily run by 200-250 volunteers with 6 full-time staff. It operates a soup kitchen that prepares, cooks, and distributes one daily meal to more than 6,000 beneficiaries island-wide, 365 days a year. They range from the elderly, to people with disabilities, children from single parent families, poverty stricken families, migrant workers, those with medical issues, and the jobless.
Willing Hearts was registered as a society in February 2005. In December 2008, it became a charity.
Being Sustainable and Flexible without Affiliations
With no affiliations, the charity relies on donors for their operating expenses (rental, electricity, food and oil supplies). Mr Tay mentioned that without the volunteers and their help, Willing Hearts would not be where they are today.
One thing that Willing Hearts does differently from many non-profit organisation is that there is no schedule, roster, or registry for the volunteers. Therefore, the volunteers can drop in any day or time of the week to help. This gives them the flexibility to leave earlier or to settle their own tasks and chores before they come to help.
Ramon Magsaysay Award
Mr Tony Tay, Willing Hearts’ founder, is among the 6 awardees who had recently received the Philippines’ Ramon Magsaysay Award 2017 (Source: The Straits Times, 27 July 2017). This award is given to people who show extraordinary efforts in transforming their societies through their commitment to the larger good.
The annual award, named after popular Philippines president, Ramon Magsaysay, was set up in 1957 by the trustees of New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It continues the former president’s legacy by recognising people with exemplary integrity in governance and courageous service to the people with pragmatic idealism.
Despite the accolade, Mr Tay has no intention to take a breather in contributing selflessly to the community. He arrives at 4am daily to Willing Heart’s kitchen and works alongside volunteers to feed the hungry. Their routine includes cooking, delivering the food, and collecting sources of food
for the next day, ending at around 6pm.
President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award
Mr Tony Tay is also a recipient of Singapore’s President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award in 2013. Despite being recognised for his work, Mr Tay has no expansion plans at the moment. He is contented with the current efforts to provide for the needy. He feel that an expansion may disrupt the efforts of Willing Hearts. This may result in inconvenience for its volunteers, and more importantly, the beneficiaries.
Ms Melissa Kwee, CEO of National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, praised Mr Tay. She said that his voluntary drive has enabled first-time volunteers to experience the joy of serving through what some may deem small or menial tasks, such as chopping, cooking, and packing food. (Source: The Straits Times, 28 July 2017). Hence, volunteers have a first-hand taste of how small acts of service can have a huge impact on others. This is important because simple experiences can mark the start of one’s lifelong giving journey.
Willing Hearts, by Willing Spirits
In addition to soothing the souls of underprivileged with comfort food, Willing Hearts extends the following services to its beneficiaries:
- Dental Care
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments
- Optical Care
- Legal Aid
- Tuition Services for needy Primary school-going children
- Bereavement Services
Aptly sounds, Willing Hearts are run by kindred spirits willing to part their time to do a good deed.
Check out and volunteer for a good cause with the Willing Hearts:
Address: Soup Kitchen, 11 Jalan Ubi Blk 6, #01-51
Kembangan – Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore 409074
Tel: 6476 5822 | Website: http://www.willinghearts.org.sg/
Photos taken from Willing Hearts Facebook page