Can you tell us what inspired you to start HandsOn Hong Kong?
I’m fairly certain I started HandsOn because of my parents. I learned from their example early in life to be respectful and kind to everyone, no matter what their situation or circumstances. My mother is a terrific seamstress and has used those skills since I was young to make and donate items for children and babies in need. My father could never pass a homeless person without acknowledging him or her and encouraging me to do the same. It taught me from an early age, that we are all human and deserve dignity and respect. It also taught me not to look away or ignore the issues impacting our society, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, but rather to dig deep and find solutions.
What drives you to remain committed and want to put your professional skills to work to serve the community?
A number of things drive me to remain committed, including that our work is far from over. In the 12 years since I founded HandsOn Hong Kong, the poverty rate has hardly budged. The gap between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong is one of the highest in the developed world. This is simply unacceptable in a city of such wealth. Our work at HandsOn Hong Kong, and my work, will never be done until issues like these no longer exist.
On a personal note, I strive to set an example for my own children the way my parents did for me. Demonstrating to them my commitment to addressing social issues in our community through our work at HandsOn Hong Kong is one of the ways that I hope to set an example for them and encourage them to be decent human beings.
What do you believe is the impact of the volunteer work you have done for HOHK?
It’s really the entire HandsOn community – our volunteers, partners, and staff – that have made an impact in Hong Kong. I do believe that together, we have been able to create change in Hong Kong, making a difference in the lives of those in need and providing a platform for people in our community who want to give back. I suppose my part is planting the seed for the amazing work HandsOn Hong Kong does each and every day.
What advice would you have for someone looking to try volunteering – whether on a board or otherwise – especially for someone who would like to use their skills for good?
I would really encourage anyone interested in skills-based (SKB) volunteering to first get involved in more ‘hands on’ volunteering opportunities with a charity. This will acquaint you with the NGO, their programming, and their needs, and also give you a chance to test each other out in a low-risk manner.
In addition to that, you should ensure that you have the time and the passion. Whether you’re helping an NGO with graphic design, book keeping, human resources or getting involved on their Board, you need to expect this takes a commitment, sometimes a very significant one, on both your part and that of the NGO. Additionally, as simple as it sounds, passion for the mission of the NGO is of the utmost importance. If you’re not passionate about the work that they do, you’re likely not going to stay committed.
Finally, anyone interested in skills-based volunteering should also check out our site for opportunities! Asian Charity Services is also a great organization to get involved with if you’re seeking skills-based volunteer opportunities.
Can you share an interesting story or touching moment you have had when volunteering with HOHK?
Given it’s been 12 years since I founded HandsOn Hong Kong, there are just so many. One that probably has stuck with me is seeing the joy on the faces of the elderly residents my family and I visited on a HandsOn Hong Kong volunteer program. We were visiting with elderly who lived on their own and had no immediate family in Hong Kong. I expected we would be a bit of an annoyance to them, as we were several people, including my small children, crowding into their flat. Instead they were so happy to see us and grateful for our visit, many of them had spent several days preparing for it. We had a list of elderly to visit and give bags of supplies to, but we couldn’t manage to stay on schedule because it was so hard to say goodbye to each person we met.