Serious about saving lives

Learn how a simple action lead Augustine Lee to be a life-long volunteer at Singapore Red Cross.

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Elderly
Making new friends
Singapore Red Cross

  • Made new friendships
  • Developed new skills

With his long blond-brown locks and tanned complexion, Mr Augustine Lee could easily pass off as a seafarer or outdoor sportsman. Once you get past his serious demeanour, he becomes surprisingly unintimidating when he speaks, thanks in part to his disarmingly unpretentious nature.

The 62-year-old precision engineer by training and grandfather of three (“I’m part of the Merdeka Generation,” he proudly declared) is an active volunteer with the Singapore Red Cross (SRC). In 2019 alone, he clocked an impressive 1,500 hours volunteering with the humanitarian organisation across different services, on top of juggling his day job.

62-year-old Augustine Lee’s volunteer experience with Singapore Red Cross dates back more than 20 years, when he decided to become a regular blood donor

62-year-old Augustine Lee’s volunteer experience with Singapore Red Cross dates back more than 20 years, when he decided to become a regular blood donor

It all started with wanting to get a day off work…

“In the late 1990s, there was a blood donor recruitment drive at my workplace. I signed up because we could take a day off. That’s how I first became acquainted with Singapore Red Cross,” he said, chuckling at the memory.

While each blood donation usually takes 45-60 minutes today, Augustine’s experience back then required him to set aside four hours in one sitting. However, that did not deter him from going back again. In fact, it became a monthly routine for him until 2004 when he had to stop due to medical reasons.

When asked what kept him going back month after month, his answer was simple. “If I can give (blood) and help others, why not?”

Although Augustine is no longer eligible to donate blood, you can still find him volunteering his time at Bloodbank@Westgate Tower every Saturday. There, he assists, assures and advises blood donors to ensure their experience is always a pleasant one.

'Always on'

When he is not helping out at the Bloodbank or SRC events on weekends, Augustine will be patrolling East Coast Park with fellow SRC volunteers to provide first aid to park-goers in need.

On top of devoting his weekends to volunteer work, Augustine is also on standby during weekday nights from midnight to 6am as a community responder under SRC’s Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+) service. HoME+ helps seniors living on their own through a helpline that operates 24/7 for non-emergency situations. When called upon, Augustine needs to arrive at the senior’s home within an hour to render assistance.

“If I can give (blood) and help others, why not?”

- Augustine Lee

Patience pays

A firm believer that everyone – especially seniors – should never idle at home, Augustine has worked hard to obtain qualifications that allow him to volunteer in various fields.

Under SRC’s TransportAid service, he helps the elderly and disabled from low-income homes get to and from their healthcare service facilities, such as hospitals, rehabilitation and day activity centres. Each appointment usually takes four hours. “Once, I even waited for nine hours, but it’s all part of the job,” he shared matter-of-factly.

Indeed, patience is one of Augustine’s virtues – something he developed during his volunteering journey. “Beyond the physical work, you have to be willing to offer a listening ear to those that you are helping, especially the old people,” he said.

Patience also comes into play in the face of unpleasant public situations. Augustine shared, “Once, I was helping to distribute flyers at a community blood drive. A man said to me, ‘Are you stupid? Don’t you have anything better to do?’ I simply smiled back and said nothing as I didn’t want to get into an unnecessary argument with him.”

He added, “It’s meaningless if you volunteer to gain recognition. I volunteer because it makes others happy, which in turn makes me happy.”

To find out how you can be involved in the community like Augustine, visit SRC’s website.

Details

Elderly
Making new friends
Singapore Red Cross