Mr Koh Ngiap Joo is one of Presbyterian Community Services’ (PCS) long-time volunteers. We call him NJ. You cannot miss his signature Ukulele, fedora and smile.
NJ is a “happy pill” who brings much joy to seniors. He performs old songs regularly with his band ‘NJ and Friends’ at our centres to help seniors reminisce their good old days. He also volunteers with PCS to deliver meals to elderly who have mobility problems.
NJ’s community service involvement with PCS started 30 years ago when his church, True Way Presbyterian Church, agreed to take over PCS’ tuition centre at Heng Teck Centre, Bukit Merah.
“Since then, I saw some of the brokenness in people’s lives… I felt burdened for them. I remember one time a boy turned up for tuition wearing his mother’s spectacles because he broke his and they have no money to get new ones,” said NJ. NJ loved these children and would even play basketball or football with them after lessons.
About seven years ago, NJ decided to conduct Ukulele classes for the children and also opened it to the public. To his surprise, the class received much more interest from the adults.
“The Ukulele sellers told me that was the second wave of the Ukulele craze in Singapore,” says NJ.“I began to realise there were a group of
seniors called the Baby Boomers, like myself. They did not have opportunities to learn musical instruments when they were young. Our classes only charged a nominal fee, plus they would even get free meals and shirts.”
His church then gave NJ their approval to start doing ukulele outreach for the seniors and the rest is history.
NJ was the first volunteer at Esther Active Ageing Centre (AAC). When Esther AAC opened its doors in 2018, NJ and Friends
performed at the Grand Opening of Esther AAC. He even convinced the uncles and aunties to dress up in brightly-coloured Hawaii-themed outfits and danced along the performance. It inspired the seniors to join our centre.
Since then, he has kept up a strong partnership with PCS to reach out to seniors. He currently visits three home-bound elderly living near Esther
AAC fortnightly to play his music for them. One of them is a Meals on Wheels recipient. “Sometimes the first thing you smell when you step into the house is urine. And you got to sing, some more. I have also helped to wash toilets for seniors before,” shares NJ.
What keeps NJ so enthusiastic? NJ says, “You just need to be joyful in reflecting the love of God! You also need to be thick- skinned because the seniors look at your sincerity and humility – it is OK to make fun of yourself, as long as you share the joy of God with them.”
Want to volunteer? We would love to connect with you at firstname.lastname@example.org.