SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE PRESIDENT’S CHALLENGE 2016 APPRECIATION NIGHT AT ISTANA ON WEDNESDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2016 AT 6.45PM

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening

I am pleased to host the President’s Challenge 2016 Appreciation Night.

This year, we have once again witnessed another successful President’s Challenge where we came together to help the less fortunate. Joining us at the appreciation dinner tonight are the strong supporters of President’s Challenge, which range from corporations and small to medium enterprises, to public organisations, religious organisations and educational institutions. I am heartened by the wide spectrum of individuals and organisations supporting President’s Challenge. 

This shows how Singaporeans are making a collective effort towards building a cohesive and caring society.

Leveraging creative and innovative ways to raise funds

The diversity of our donors also made our campaign more interesting this year.  We were able to tap on the creativity of our donors, who came up with many fresh and innovative ideas to raise funds for the underprivileged. These ideas were not only creative but also expanded the reach of our movement to involve different segments of the society. Take for example, CapitaLand.  The company’s philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, made the posting of food photos more meaningful through an Instagram charity campaign called #EatSnapGive [“hashtag Eat Snap Give”].  Besides pledging donations to President’s Challenge for every food-related photo uploaded to Instagram, the campaign helped raise awareness of President’s Challenge, especially among the youths who are Instagram users.

Another example is how the Chinese Media Group of Singapore Press Holdings held a colouring event at Gardens by the Bay, with all proceeds going to President’s Challenge.  The event saw a strong turnout of families of all ages, and illustrated how charity events can also be good platforms for strengthening family bonds.With the kind generosity of these and other donors, I am glad to note that President’s Challenge has raised over $10 million for our 58 beneficiaries this year.  With the Government’s dollar-for-dollar matching for the Silver Volunteer Fund (or SVF in short), we have also raised more than $4 million this year for the SVF under the ambit of President’s Challenge.

Congratulations, everyone, and thank you.

Giving in more ways than one

Fund raising remains an important part of President’s Challenge.  But giving to the society can also come in other forms. As a community, we can grow our social reserves to address evolving social needs. Volunteering is one such way.

Volunteering not only benefits social causes, but also provides meaning to those who volunteer and grows one’s heart for the community. The volunteering movement can help build social resilience within our society.

Joanne Ong and her son, Jayden, are a case in point. They have been regular volunteers at the drinks stall at the various Istana Open Houses over the course of this year. Joanne sees this volunteering experience as a way for Jayden to learn about giving back to society. Despite having to wake up early on public holidays and having to step out of his comfort zone to engage visitors at the Open Houses, Jayden does so gladly. I am grateful for the precious gifts of time and talent from both mother and son.

Beyond the individual level, building social reserves of our society through volunteering can also happen at the organisational level.  During the President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Corporate Networking Dinner last month, I shared about how corporations and other organisations have played a valuable role in the social service ecosystem by partnering social enterprises. The Law Society of Singapore has been a strong supporter in this regard, providing their professional expertise to our President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Award winners.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Law Society of Singapore for this effort.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, the President’s Challenge provides those who are less fortunate with social support, skills and confidence so that they can lead dignified and meaningful lives. Whether they are disadvantaged families, persons with disabilities, at-risk youths and ex-offenders, they are still integral to our community.  We therefore have a responsibility to support them and help them to continue making contributions to our society. Of course, we cannot do this alone, and this is where President’s Challenge comes in. 

Through President’s Challenge, we hope to bring everyone together in building a cohesive and caring society in Singapore.  On this note, I would like to conclude by thanking all of you for having been a part of President’s Challenge this past year. It is with your support that we are able to achieve this objective.

Special mention goes to our long-standing supporters: Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Lee Foundation, Mediacorp Pte Ltd, Singapore GP Pte Ltd, Singapore Health Services, Singapore Pools, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Technologies Engineering, Singapore Tote Board and Stephen Riady Foundation.

Your continued support of President’s Challenge will strengthen our social service ecosystem, and help more see beyond their circumstances to discover their dreams and passions.

I am confident that collectively, we can build a caring and cohesive community.

Have a good evening.

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