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PVPA honours everyday heroes

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Front row (from left): Minister Edwin Tong; President Halimah Yacob; and NVPC chairman Mildred Tan. (Second row, from left): NVPC CEO Melissa Kwee; NVPC deputy CEO Tony Soh; and award winners of PVPA Special Edition 2020.

Singapore

WHEN the Covid-19 outbreak happened, Q&M Dental Group's staff swapped their dental probes for nose swabs.

The group of 75 dentists and 45 nurses from Q&M, and about six other volunteer dentists swabbed more than 13,000 foreign workers in 160 dormitories over a period of 24 days. The dental group was acknowledged on Friday in the President's Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards Special Edition 2020 (PVPA Special Edition 2020) - it was among the five winners under the Organisations of Good Award Category. Other winners in the category include CapitaLand Limited, Food Bank Singapore, Hope Initiative Alliance and Supporting SG's Frontline.

There were altogether 24 award winners in three categories - namely People of Good Award, Organisation of Good Award, and Leader of Good Award.

The PVPA Special Edition celebrates the givers who embody the City of Good vision, and President Halimah Yacob said: "Over the past few months, I have seen many Singaporeans from all walks of life coming together to help others. It inspires me greatly to know that in the most difficult of times, humanity still prevails. This is why I have decided to dedicate this year's PVPA to recognising these unsung heroes who have given selflessly during the Covid-19 outbreak.

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"It is no surprise that we received a record number of 236 nominations for this year's special edition of PVPA, almost three times of what we received in 2018. The overwhelming response is a testament to the tremendous efforts across the nation in response to Covid-19."

Ng Chin Siau, group CEO of Q&M, said that it was among the earliest batch of private organisations to have answered the government's call for healthcare professionals to help during the pandemic.

"I wanted to help the country that I have benefited so much from. Moreover, a lot of dental procedures were not allowed during the circuit breaker period, so our staff volunteered for this cause instead."

The group CEO added that as dentists, they are well-versed in infection control measures. "Dentists not only do tooth extractions, we can also give back during a crisis," Dr Ng said with a laugh.

However, there were worries among employees who were going into the dorms to do swabbing, as it was a hotspot.

To allay their worries, the company took precautionary measures such as providing staff members with N99 masks, hazmat suits, and goggles.

Dr Ng said that one lesson learnt through this episode is to give back whenever possible, and "as a dentist, as a business, the feeling of giving is very good as compared to receiving".

This spirit of selflessness is the common thread seen among the winners of PVPA Special Edition 2020, said Mildred Tan, chairman, National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). "It is not just about 'me', but rather, about coming together as Singaporeans to help each other."

The PVPA Special Edition 2020 comprised an independent panel of judges and the three selection criteria were Motivation, Giving and Impact.

Mrs Tan added that the diversity of the different winners surprised her. "There were big and small firms, and groups from different backgrounds. They came out to do things not only for Singaporeans, but also non-Singaporeans, such as the dormitory workers. They were not afraid for themselves but more concerned for others. And this is beneficial for the country."

Melissa Kwee, CEO of NVPC, agreed and said: "Covid really ripped open the different needs we never saw before. So it is a challenge for people to say, what can we do?"

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