Simple repair work
Daniel Ow has turned his skills into helping seniors in need.
Daniel Ow has always enjoyed doing handy work even when young. For years, he has been saving money and handling his own house maintenance without the need of an external handyman. In May 2021, he saw an ad from SAGE Counselling Centre (SAGECC) looking for handymen to help seniors in need who were unable to afford basic maintenance at home.
He jumped at the opportunity to be able to extend his skills outside of his home. “I wanted to serve and contribute my little part to the needy citizens in the society and at the same time continue to explore and discover new ways to value-add myself.” The 61-year-old grandfather of two is not a trained handyman, spending most of this time in military forces till he retired, but that didn’t deter him from wanting to help.
Daniel handles around two cases each week and provides basic handywork as well as simple plumbing and electrical services such as resolving leaks in the kitchen and repairing lights and switches. “I find it interesting encountering a new issue. It could be a same problem but it has to be handled differently.”
He also finds it interesting going to the seniors’ homes, and seeing their living conditions and having conversations with them. “I get to listen to their thoughts, as well as challenges at the current stage of their life including health, finance and family, etc.” Also during the repair sessions, he takes the opportunity to explain how the problem might have occurred, how to prevent it, what are some easy ways for DIY maintenance and what are some safety issues.
He is one of 12 volunteer handymen that are working at SAGECC’s Home Maintenance Service, which started in 2015. The handymen come from all corners of Singapore and age in range from 48 to 78. They contributed to many cases over the years. In 2020, there were a total of 457 cases and in 2021, 383 cases. According to SAGECC, there has been a slight drop due to the pandemic but handyman services are still needed.
The service is offered free to the needy seniors (those include individuals above 50 holding a blue CHAS card or under the Community Care Financial Scheme) with the help of the Agency for Integrated Care’s (AIC) Community Silver Trust funding, which will come to an end in April 2024. SAGECC hopes to continue the service past the funding period and are currently raising funds to continue helping those in the community.
For now, they are still looking for more volunteer handymen to address the growing demand, including those who have a license to do electrical works. With the pool of existing handymen, SAGECC tries to assign cases close to their homes to minimise their travelling time even though some don’t mind travelling further. The volunteer handymen receive a transport allowance as well as a small token for the work they have done.
However, there is no price tag to what the volunteer handymen also take home from doing the work. For instance, Daniel, who also volunteers elsewhere packing and sorting food, wheelchair repairing and haircutting, shared that doing this work has brought him a sense of self-achievement, happiness and meaning. “Seniors will express their gratefulness once the tasks are resolved and that makes my day. And, I get to learn new skills and overcome challenges.” Not bad for a day’s work!
** For those keen to volunteer as a handyman, call SAGECC at 6354 1191.