Sept 2018 Newsletter: Volunteer Appreciation Day

By BMSG Editorial Team

Volunteers are the heart and soul of BMSG, and we decided it was time to set aside a day to show our appreciation to them. So on 22nd September, BMSG conducted our Volunteer Appreciation Day for our family of volunteers. It was a hearty affair, not without laughter and merriment, for all the hard work that our volunteers had put in during the past few years.

Our volunteers include our counsellors, who are strongholds of our counselling platforms, as well as mothers who have shared at our workshops or contributed their time, ideas and stories for our monthly newsletter. Some of our volunteers have also contributed their energy at our events throughout the year.

As most of our volunteers may rarely get a chance to meet one another in person, largely due to the fact that many of them work remotely, the Volunteer Appreciation Day (VAD) was intended to bring together all of them to honour their contributions.

Some counsellors from the 2017 batch. Back row (from left): Norliyana Noor Mohammad, Nurhidyawati Sahid, Norfaizah Masod, Ellen Nepilly, Nabila Hanim, Nur Shirhaini Sarip, Alona Hodik, Atiqah Halim. Front row: Elaine Chow (our President, who also trained in 2017), Far’ain Jaafar & Shana Shang.

Elaine (left) with some of the counsellors who trained in 2018: (back row, from left) Armelle Etienne, Cheryl Chan, Melissa Kirwin, Kwan Xiuwen, JoBeth Williams, Mysha Tan. Front row: Valerie Loh, Norazlinah Taha & Saidatunnajat Yusuf.

Our President, Elaine Chow, gave out certificates to all volunteers to thank them for their contributions and hard work. A special certificate was also given to our counsellors for completing their training hours. Special mentions were given to counsellors who received the Long Service Award for still serving as counsellors since way before 2017. 

Elaine with Freji Kaylaku (centre) and Tan Hui Ning (Lanie) (right). Freji and Hui Ning both trained in 2015 and are still currently serving as active counsellors.

The BMSG team also managed to present a bouquet of flowers to Khatim Hamidon, our Vice-President, for being one of the longest serving counsellors. Khatim had trained to become a counsellor in early 2012 and is still serving as a counsellor. Other counsellors joining her ranks would be Mythili Pandi, our Immediate Past President and Lead Trainer (for counsellors) who trained in late 2012, as well as Nurhidayati Yahya, who trained in 2010. Both Mythili and Nurhidayati were  sadly not able to attend the VAD.

Our Vice-President, Khatim, who is also one of our longest-serving counsellors, receiving a bouquet from Elaine.

Right after that, we had counsellors from the 2017 and 2018 batches share their journey and growth in their one year of service. Counsellors Atiqah Halim and Alona Hodik, from the 2017 batch of counsellors, spoke about the struggles and sweetness as a BMSG counsellor. It was interesting to hear of how much they have grown from the initial fears of answering their first counselling post, being recognised via the #bmsgcounsellor hashtag, to facing challenges in their daily counselling work in their bid to help mums.

Atiqah (left) and Alona (right) spoke about how they have grown as BMSG counsellors.

Subsequently, JoBeth Williams, who is also our staff, as well as Valerie Loh, both of whom trained this year, spoke about their journeys growing from being just a breastfeeding mum to gaining new friendships with other counsellors through the counselling training and from being part of the counselling team. Our counsellors are all breastfeeding mums who understand the struggles and quirks of being one. Counsellors constantly give each other support and a shoulder to cry on when things get tough in the face of counselling. Having this village for counsellors affirms the need for all mothers to have a village or a tribe she can depend on, which BMSG hopes to build for mothers who come our way.

Valerie also shared how she had memories of replying to counselling queries in the middle of the night as she sleeps late sometimes because she was compelled by the fact that the mummies who asked were probably desperate for an answer. We certainly appreciate the silent and unspoken, even unknown, struggles of some of our volunteers who go out of their way to help other mums even though there is nothing tangible for them to receive as rewards, other than the satisfaction and pure joy of helping another mum.

Thank you to our volunteers! A special dessert table on top of a buffet to spend the afternoon together in joy.

Counsellors were treated to a buffet and dessert spread, as well as games to inject some stitch-inducing laughter. After three hours of mingling, getting to know one another, and more importantly catching up, we ended the day with a video montage and group photos of everyone.

Nothing like a we-fie to end the beautiful afternoon! Note how babies and children are always a part of us.

While not all our volunteers were able to attend the VAD, which is something that we really regret, we know that their passion and sincerity to serve shine bright and strong especially looking at how earnest and hardworking our volunteers carry out their responsibilities without asking to be repaid. We will continue to honour our volunteers, who are also busy mums, for contributing their energy and time so selflessly to help build a community of trusting breastfeeding mums.

Keen to volunteer? We are constantly looking for writers for our monthly newsletters as well as mothers who can share at our workshops. Write in to nabila@breastfeeding.org.sg to share your ideas with us!