How Clementi Ward members LIGHT THE WORLD for seniors in the Tanglin Halt Road estate

William & Connie with senior

Making seniors happy during the Christmas holidays

As part of the Light The World campaign by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Clementi Ward organized a 'Take Seniors Shopping' Project in collaboration with the Lions Befrienders in December 2017. 

The Lions Befrienders is a government-supported organization that sends volunteers to visit and befriend seniors living alone in the HDB (public housing) estate.   For this project, the Lions Befrienders supplied the names of 20 seniors living in the Tanglin Halt Road area.  Some of the seniors spoke only Mandarin, Malay or a local dialect.

Unable to find families to take care of all the 20 seniors, Clementi Ward invited members from two other wards to participate in the project: Choa Chu Kang Ward (Roger Cortez, Jaceline Lee, Kareen Sham, Brian Sham, Andrew Toh and Natasha Kwek); and Bukit Timah Ward (Kathryn Chai and Casey Tan).

Part 1: 'Get-to-know-you' visit

Each senior was assigned to a family with instructions to call and set up a 'get-to-know-you' visit as soon as possible.  At the end of the visit, the family would ask the senior for an appropriate time to go 'Christmas' shopping at the near-by Sheng Siong supermarket. 

If a senior was matched with a family that did not speak Mandarin or the local dialects, another member would be assigned as an interpreter.  Elder and Sister Walker brought along Chinese speaking sister missionaries when they visited a senior who spoke no English.  Luke Milburn and his family, from the UK, brought along Lewis Chua, a local member when they visited a senior who could only communicate in Mandarin.   With the Christmas spirit, love and goodwill the need for interpretation did not seem quite necessary.

Part 2: Take Seniors Shopping

Though the Sheng Siong supermarket was within walking distance of the seniors' home in Tanglin Halt Road, members were advised not to take the seniors shopping on the first visit but to do it a few days or a week later.  However, a few seniors did not want to wait and were happy to get up and go.

Each senior was given a budget of $30.00 to buy whatever he or she wanted.  In most cases, the purchase went over the budget, but the members gladly paid the excess out of their own pocket or treated what the senior had purchased as their Christmas present for the senior.

Not everything went as planned but wonderful things happened.

·       When William and Connie Woo showed up at the appointed time to visit their assigned senior, she was not home.  She had forgotten about the appointment and went out with her friends but they later reconnected and had a wonderful time shopping and having a meal together.

·       When Hendry and Emily Chen called to make the 'get-to-know-you' appointment, they were told that the senior had just been discharged from the hospital and was able to come to the phone.

·       When Jim and Dora Ellis visited their senior for the first time, she was all ready to go, not wanting to wait for another day.   They did go shopping and had dinner together on their first date.  Jim and Dora later brought her to the Ward Christmas Party.

·       On their first visit, AC and Helen Ho found that their senior, called Bessie, was more concerned about her two neighbours than herself.   Bessie gave AC and Helen her two neighbours' phone numbers and insisted that some church members contact them and take them shopping.

·       The senior that Seah Wee Huang visited showed such interest in genealogy and family history that he asked Wee Huang to help draw his family tree.

·       Walter and Cristine Garces took their senior shopping and then brought her to the Ward Christmas party at the Pasir Panjang Chapel on the same day.  On their first visit, they brought her fruits, washed her dishes, folded her washed clothes and put on the seat covers for her sofa.

·       AC Lim and wife Lilian brought their three grandchildren to visit their senior and learned how much he loved his wife.  The senior was caring for his wife by visiting her at the nursing home every afternoon without fail. 

·       Chris Varel, his wife Kate and daughter Nancy enjoyed visiting their senior who was a Chinese opera singer.  He entertained them by playing the erhu superbly.  After taking the senior shopping, Chris drove him down Orchard Road to see the Christmas lights that he missed.

·       Darrell Choo and her sister Iris visited an 89-year old lady. Darrell said her senior was sharp and as fit as a fiddle.  She was so happy to have Darrell and Iris visit her and take her shopping to top up her household supplies.

Beginning of a relationship


Michael Hoffmann and his family, from Germany, fell in love with their senior at first sight and the family went on to sing carols in German for her on Christmas Day.  William and Connie Woo said they intend to visit their senior during the upcoming Lunar New Year.  'We must continue with this project for a long time,' Connie said.