Brian Jenner and Our Very Important Citizens

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Mr Brian Jenner (front row, centre) at COH’s annual staff dinner in 2013. With him are fellow Board Member Ms Patricia Sabapathy (front row, left), Executive Director Mr Samuel Koh (front row, right), and staff who received the Long Service Award that year: (second row, left to right) Mr Toh Kum Meng, Ms Grace Soh, Ms Christie Paul Usha, Ms Christabelle Ng, Mr Paul Law, Ms May Loh, and Ms Toh Bee Hiong.

“To Sir with Love”

Mr Brian Jenner has been serving on the COH Board for nearly 30 years. He took on the role of President in the 1990s.

At the end of 2016, he will pass the baton to a new President.

Volunteering features strongly in Brian’s life.

“I have always exposed my children to a non-perfect world, and they were brought up to appreciate all facets of society and not fear people who are different,” says Brian.

Brian’s interest in caring for people with special needs was sparked when he met pioneer Social Worker Leaenna Tambyah at church. “She had a special charisma and I was drawn to COH by her enthusiasm about it.” Brian has been serving at COH ever since.

He explains, “I chose to add whatever talents I had to the pool for the good of our local, national, and global community; hoping to inspire others to volunteer as well.”

Reaching Milestones Together

Serving in an Executive Committee of individuals from diverse backgrounds and with different talents, taught him the importance of teamwork.

“I am still learning to be a better team worker,’ he quips.

He believes in encouraging the Executive Director and his staff, in the challenging work they do, supporting them with love and advice along the way.

As President, Brian focused his energies on governance because he believes that this covers the husbandry of resources, as well as COH’s responsibility to its clients, donors, funding agencies and society at large .

Obtaining the government’s trust to set-up a new centre in the Tampines heartland community was a very significant turning point.

When Emmanuel Activity Centre (Tampines) opened in 2008, Brian said, “We do not wish COH to be isolated. We aim to encourage understanding and acceptance of our clients in the community, by the love that we aim to give to Clients and the Community around us. We want to work with all sectors of society that are interested in social service for the benefit our community.”

Since then, COH has opened an Emmanuel Activity Centre in Toa Payoh, and is planning a third.

Brian Jenner and Our Very Important Citizens

Mr Brian Jenner (fourth from left) at the 2009 opening of Emmanuel Activity Centre, Toa Payoh. With him on stage were Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Mrs Josephine Teo (third from left), Board Members Ms Patricia Sabapathy (second from left), Ms Lois Goh (fifth from left), Ms Ivy Goh (sixth from left), and Mr Benny Lim (right), together with COH Executive Director Mr Samuel Koh (fourth from right) and Staff: Ms Tan Poh Suan (third from right), Mr Julius Koh (second from righr) and Ms Ting Ai Hwa (left).

“I hope COH will continue to be supportive of our staff and ensure that processes are undertaken in a systematic way. It is important that the organisation also continues to be outward looking, working together with the local community and other social service organisations for the common good.”Mr. Brian Jenner

Left: Brian and COH Staff Ms Maricar Lorenzo (left), with her son, at the 2009 Staff Retreat; Right:
Brian and wife, Lorna, at COH’s Staff Retreat in 2009

Urging the COH team, supporters, and caregivers to celebrate every success achieved by the clients, he says, “Be thankful for even the smallest and subtlest changes.”

“Our clients have special ways to communicate and one is by enthusiastically shaking hands with their wide smiles. This is meaningful to me as I have the honour of their respect and the special way in which they reach out.”

Brian at Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s “I AM ABLE! ” programme, held in the multipurpose hall next to Emmanuel Activity Centre (Toa Payoh)

To Brian, COH clients are “Our Very Important Citizens with Different Abilities”.

From the bottom of our hearts, the management and staff, our clients and their families, and all supporters of COH; thank you, Brian – for your love and guidance. You have served us with distinction and it has been a privilege to have had you as our President all these years.

Also read Moving into the Heartlands – A Milestone for COH and Brian Jenner

About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.

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