At age 60, Grace Soh is still going strong, bringing joy each day to COH special needs clients. “I have seen their potential to learn, and watched them improve,” she enthuses.
“I am motivated each day to discover more about my clients and am constantly surprised by them. I bring these surprises home with much satisfaction, after a day of hard work.”
A Programme Officer at COH’s Emmanuel Activity Centre (EAC) in Toa Payoh, Grace is constantly thinking about how she can help enrich their lives. “I feel a sense of fulfillment when I see them enjoy something,” she explains. “It’s not just about what they can achieve.”
Passionate about the work and empathetic towards her clients, Grace treasures and keeps building on the relationships she has with each one.
She draws inspiration from them, too. When she observes one client speaking gently to another, she is reminded to do the same.
She also believes strongly in establishing a good rapport with family caregivers. “When parents know you and understand that you care about their child, they’ll cooperate with you. When the relationship is built, you can speak to them boldly about what needs to be done to help their child.”
This was especially difficult in the early years for clients whose parents were daily-rated workers. Some were reluctant for her to make home visits, as they had to take time off work to meet her.
Others expressed disappointment that their children were not learning anything.
But Grace persevered, continued to engage the parents, and eventually won them over. “For some, it took years,” she recalls. Today, she enjoys a good rapport with many of them.
Grace’s life has been touched in many ways in return.
Observant and Considerate
She fondly remembers a caring act by a client when COH was at Jalan Tembusu. During one of their daily sing-a-long sessions, this client, noticing that Grace was standing as she was playing the guitar, quietly pushed her special chair over so that she could sit. She was pleasantly surprised by this and by how observant and considerate he was. Though non-verbal, his actions spoke volumes.
Taking the Initiative
Kien Meng, a client in her current class, also made an impression on Grace when he went out of his way to help her to display new artwork by the clients on the walls. After assisting for a few rounds, Kien Meng soon knew how to do it himself. Grace was really happy to see him take the initiative to reach out and help.
Grace has been working at COH since 1996. Like an explorer in a bountiful field, Grace finds herself discovering something beautiful about her clients, time and time again. “You never know a person’s true potential!”
She unearths gems and is in turn treasured by her clients and their caregivers.
Such is the investment that COH staff make in the lives of clients and their families, and in journeying with them over the seasons in their lives.
About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.