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Caring for families through friendship

Through Project Nee Soon Cares, local celebrity Jamie Yeo hopes everyone can get a well-rounded view of the world.

Lau Ai Xuan
Lau Ai Xuan

Published: 4 February 2016, 12:00 AM

The one saying that Jamie Yeo strongly believes in is: “Charity begins at home”, which is the main reason why this affable host decided to start a charity targeting families.

A familiar face among Singaporeans, many remember her as Tammy from popular family drama Growing Up, or as a radio DJ from 98.7FM’s “Say It With Music” segment from 2001 to 2006.

Youth.SG met the TV and radio presenter at her Clementi home last Friday to talk about her charity project, Project Nee Soon Cares.

 

The home she shares with her daughter is done up in a Scandinavian style.

 

Created in June last year under the 50for50 initiative, Project Nee Soon Cares pairs families with other families that need extra help.

 

Jamie believes that when you help others, it brings you back to earth.

 

Under the befriender project, a family contributes to the befriended family with a care package every month for a year. This care package, with a minimum value of $50, can consist of food, clothes, books, or other necessities.

The idea of matching families might sound simple, but Jamie revealed that it was challenging to look for a family that needs help and a supporting organisation to do the groundwork, such as sourcing for the families and arranging for a social worker to get in touch with the family.

Jamie, 38, said: “It was very difficult to get an organisation on board, because it is hard work pairing families. I was blessed because I found Chong Pang CC, which was willing to help. So, I decided to make [my project] a Nee Soon GRC initiative, [since it] is an old HDB area, and there are many families who need a friend,” said the mother of one.

 

Jamie and her daughter Aly visiting Madam Faridah (in the rainbow-coloured shirt) with a befriender family.
Photo credit: Jamie Yeo

 

She also started this initiative to help her five-year-old daughter Alysia, or Aly for short.

“This way, Aly won’t take things for granted. She’ll chuck [a new toy] somewhere after a day. So, if I get her to give up a toy to somebody else, she can see things for herself.”

Aly often accompanies her celebrity mother on house visits, and mother and daughter usually appear together in group photos with the #ProjectNeeSoonCares hashtag.

One of Jamie’s most memorable experiences was when she worked with a family of three. The family comprises an elderly couple and their 17-year-old grandson Ching Ming, who is severely autistic.

 

Ching ming’s family (seated) meeting befriender Shumei Winstantley (third from left) for the first time.
Photo credit: Jamie Yeo’s Facebook

 

Ching Ming was abandoned by his mother at three months old, and is now cared for by his grandparents. Unfortunately, Ching Ming’s condition has deteriorated over the years as his grandparents could not afford to enrol him into a special school, leaving him terribly shy and unable to speak.

“It’s very sad, because if he had more therapy he probably could speak by now, but he can’t. They don’t have the money,” said Jamie, a radio presenter at GOLD 90.5FM.

Singaporeans have since stepped forward to offer help after seeing Jamie’s appeals on social media, and Ching Ming is now entitled to a few sponsored dental sessions.

Jamie’s project is not just about giving money or donating items to needy families. For her, the interaction that takes place between families through her project matters more. She hopes for one family to get to know another family better through this.

For example, she switched from buying groceries for the Osman family to giving them supermarket vouchers instead, after realising that she was unsure of the types of dishes the mother cooks.

 

Jamie herself has befriended one family, the Osmans.
Photo credit: Jamie Yeo

 

Today, the project has seven families under its umbrella, and Jamie has plans to expand her initiative.

When asked for her thoughts on giving, she wants everyone to remember that material life is really not that important.

Jamie said: “Count your blessings, and it’s always good to help others out – you can make a difference.”

If you wish to help, drop Jamie a note here.


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