Executive Director, Club Rainbow (Singapore)
On the first of October 2016, Club Rainbow (Singapore) organised the inaugural Project Runway show at the *SCAPE The Ground Theatre to a rousing runaway success. This is however not the usual fashion show one would see, because the conceptualisation of the 3 collections – the Rainbow, Friendship and Upcycled themes – are the impressive work of the chronically-ill children that Club Rainbow (Singapore) serves.
According to Mr Jerome Yuen, Club Rainbow (Singapore) Executive Director, some parents of the children were in tears at the end of the show, because they were so touched by the painstaking effort and inspiring accomplishment of their children. From the design of the various pieces, to the meticulous sewing process, to the modelling on the runway, the children realised their fashion dreams, all thanks to Club Rainbow (Singapore). And there is more to come: “When I took over, we reviewed the programmes for the children, and one idea was to look at their interests, from the ukulele to photography and so on. The Project Runway is the result of such a review, and we have a showcase of visual and performing arts coming right up.” The less fortunate children are certainly the focus of Mr Yuen’s life now, something which was the catalyst for his mid career change after he was in the commercial sector for about 25 years. It was a very hectic lifestyle, and he recounted that he even spent 42 weeks in a year out of the country. But then he decided enough was enough. Because he was already actively volunteering at Club Rainbow (Singapore) back then, he decided he wanted to take on a job to do something for Singaporeans, especially for the children. What actually started it all though was
this saying by the recently canonised St. Teresa of Calcutta: I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.
|"You know it’s funny – When you get past 50, the first thing you say is ‘Heath is wealth’. Who cares about how much money you’ve if you’re in hospital all the time? But I think health and family ranks the top for me. All the time I’ve outside work is basically spent with my loved ones."
Inspired by the quote, Mr Yuen started his volunteering stint, for the church, for Club Rainbow (Singapore) and other charities. With a very tight schedule these days of running Club Rainbow (Singapore), chairing internal meetings and informal chats with the department heads, dealing with emergencies arising from the chronically-ill children, liaising with service providers and the community at large, Mr Yuen still managed to complete the ACE Capstone Leadership Programme for Non-Profits course not long ago. To him, this is a course you can learn something in a short time, on how to run a charity, and therefore very applicable to executive directors andsenior management individuals. One best takeaway of the programme is the fund-raising module, from which a Donor Life Cycle initiative was developed, and to be launched very soon.
Although his form belies his age, Mr Yuen relates something which is crucial at this point in time: “You know it’s funny – When you get past 50, the first thing you say is ‘Heath is wealth’. Who cares about how much money you’ve if you’re in hospital all the time? But I think health and family ranks the top for me. All the time I’ve outside work is basically spent with my loved ones.” One unusual thing that hardly anyone knows of Mr Yuen is that he used to sew sequins on wedding dresses just to vearn pocket money during his younger days, while he was in junior college and serving in the army. Fast forward to this day, his passion is proudly sewn and visible on his heart, to continue his journey to create more dazzling rainbows for the children in his care.