Can you introduce yourself, and tell us what are you doing currently?
My name is Matthew Au. I grew up in Hong Kong but lived in the US for over 30 years before repatriating back to Hong Kong a couple of years ago. I have worked as a CFO for high tech and biotechnology firms in the US and Hong Kong, but currently am taking a break from work.
How did you get in touch with HandsOn Hong Kong?
With my work sabbatical, I started researching volunteer opportunities on-line and came across HandsOn's website. I was struck by how easy it was to review and try so many different types of volunteer opportunities, so I decided to join and give it a try.
What drives you to provide volunteer service to the community?
I have always been attracted to volunteering. It started with my high school in the US, which offered a "7/1" program where for every 7 weeks of school, we get 1 week off to do volunteer work. I was able to experience tutoring Southeast Asian refugee children living in the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco, as well as working with an organization called "Camping Unlimited" which organizes outdoor activities for disabled kids. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of giving back and interacting with the needy, so since then I have always tried to look for ways to contribute more.
What is the outcome of your volunteer work?
Volunteering certainly makes a difference for the beneficiaries, whether it's a hot meal for the hungry, clean soap for the poor, or a rare outing for the wheelchair bound. At the same time, it also serves as a reminder of how fortunate and blessed I am. We don't always realize that a lot of things we take for granted in our daily lives are actually quite difficult for some to enjoy, and volunteering makes me better appreciate what I have.
If you would need to recommend others to join HandsOn Hong Kong, what are the reasons?
a) Giving back makes you feel good! b) Easy-to-use website to try out different activities with no long term commitment until you're ready c) A great way to meet some very nice people
Any interesting stories or touching experiences with HandsOn Hong Kong?
My favorite activity so far was a karaoke outing with a school for disabled children. The kids are afflicted with neurological disorders which severely affected their muscle development and movements, thus making it difficult for them to speak or move their limbs. But boy they love to sing! It was wonderful to see them getting lost in their own performances, singing their little hearts out. And they're all better singers than I am!
Any other suggestions you want to share with our HandsOn Hong Kong volunteers or new subscribers?
My suggestion: Take the plunge! It's so true that the hardest part is always taking the first step. Just like the hardest part about working out is actually dragging yourself to the gym... but once you get there it doesn't seem so bad after all! Given how easy the website is, just give it a try and see if HandsOn fits what you're looking for. I'm glad I did!