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Giving Love, Celebrating Life
31 December 2021

The HCA Virtual Appreciation Night was a celebration of our volunteers, who have committed much time and effort to bringing joy and comfort to our patients over the past year.

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Community Relations

For HCA Vigil Angel Kevin Mcwhinney, each assignment is not just a valuable opportunity to bring comfort to the imminently dying, but also a celebration of life.

“I feel so blessed that our patients’ loved ones even let me in through the door.” Despite not speaking the same language as the many patients, he is assigned to, Kevin believes connections are forged through sincerity.

“We usually take a few minutes to understand the patients and what kind of life they had,” he explains.

Kevin at a patient’s home. Connections are forged through the warmth of touch and gentle words.

Worn out by the toll of caregiving and anticipatory grief, Kevin and his fellow volunteers often encounter scepticism and weariness by patients’ families. But this quickly transforms into relief and appreciation over the course of several hours, as families witness the comfort their loved ones experience, under the gentle touch of the Vigil Angels.

In the final stages of illness, patients are often unable to speak or move much, but their appreciation is evident in the little smiles they try to muster. “It’s about impacting the senses – that is what the Vigil Angel programme does,” Kevin says.

The opportunity to bring comfort to the imminently dying, inspires Kevin to continue his volunteering work with Vigil Angels. It is a sentiment echoed by fellow Vigil Angel Tricia Tan, who shared her experience during the HCA Virtual Appreciation Night on 19 November. “I realised that by just being there, in their presence, can serve as a huge source of comfort and healing for them,” she said.

Pillars of Solidarity

Volunteers form the pillars of HCA’s work, bolstering our operations by generously contributing their time, effort and expertise. The HCA Virtual Appreciation Night was held in honour of our volunteers, who answered every call for help over the past year, despite the obstacles posed by the long-drawn pandemic.

The event was aptly themed “Our HCA Rock Stars! - Rocking & Rolling in Solidarity”, to celebrate the brilliance of our volunteers, who have collectively clocked more than 9,000 hours of service over the past year.

Many volunteers gamely dressed to the rock and roll theme.

Over the course of the night, our volunteers were regaled with an entertaining lineup of activities, including a wiregraphy workshop, trivia games and performances. A video on the relatively new Vigil Angels programme, also provided other volunteers with an intimate glimpse into the initiative.

A screenshot from the video showcasing the work of our Vigil Angels.

Several volunteers also shared about their motivation for volunteering and the experiences they had gleaned in their journey thus far, creating a sense of community, despite the virtual nature of the event.

A toast at the end of the event for a great year ahead.

HCA’s volunteers serve in different roles and contribute in various ways, united by the drive to uplift our patients and their loved ones. “We would like our volunteers to know that whatever the form, every single minute spent with our patient, every dollar donated, makes that someone’s day brighter, their life more bearable,” says HCA CEO Ms Angeline Wee. “Our volunteers have brought us their life experiences, skills, compassion, talents, friendship and even their sense of humour. We hope these efforts will only grow bigger and better.”