As I walk into the lobby of her workplace, I’m greeted by the friendly and warm handshake of Serina Yeo. For the past seven years, Serina has been caring for guests at Far East Hospitality serviced apartments all over Singapore. As we sit down to chat, her happy, open personality shines through – you can tell she was always destined to care for people, and volunteering is just a part of it.
“It was a big leap for me to join hospitality after previously working in retail, but ultimately it’s all about serving the customer in both industries. I started as a guest service officer and over the years I’ve progressed to my current role as a duty manager.”
Love for the community
Looking after guests is not the only aspect of Serina’s job. She’s also passionate about the company’s corporate social responsibility programme. Through this, her love for people goes beyond taking care of her guests to helping the underprivileged in the community.
“I’ve been part of the Caring Hearts Committee since 2014,” she says. “We do a lot of volunteer events including house cleaning for the elderly because they can’t manage to do it themselves.”
Serina also goes across to Batam with Habitat for Humanity, where volunteers help to build homes in an effort to eliminate poverty housing. “Last year, because I’d taken part so many times, one of my colleagues voted for me to be in charge of Batam Build. I’m now overseeing the programme and coordinating all the works.”
She adds: “Batam Build gives people the chance to experience strenuous manual labour under the sun, even if it’s only for one day. I believe all of us living in Singapore are very privileged and we take things for granted. It’s an eye-opener to experience this work – there’s no machinery and everything is done by hand. It’s also a great way to interact with villagers who are culturally different from us.”
Working with others
Aside from stepping out of her comfort zone, the project also allows Serina to get to know more people from other departments. “We forge great friendships, even though we don’t work directly together,” she says.
With the current focus on Batam Build, Serina can really see where volunteer efforts are making a difference. “The original houses had tin roofs that leaked. It wasn’t good for the residents or their children trying to study. It makes us feel great that we’ve actually contributed to making things better.”
Far East Organization (the parent company of Far East Hospitality) also partners with World Vision to provide funds for educational programmes in regional areas. Each year, staff members are given the opportunity to visit the children around the world that the company has helped. “I went to China in 2014, but due to work commitments, I haven’t been able to go since. But I’m hoping to go again with the team this year.”
“The experiences I’ve had, with both Batam Build and our World Vision programmes, have definitely helped me in my work. Being part of Caring Hearts has enabled me to become more empathetic, patient and humble with our guests. I think I’ve even become a better team member and it has helped me be more appreciative of my family and home. I really enjoy volunteering, and it is such an important part of my professional and personal life. If you are considering volunteering – just do it!”
Regency House is a serviced residence managed by Far East Hospitality. Located in the heart of Orchard Road and surrounded by a quiet leafy park, it is an ideal location for long or short serviced apartment stays.
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