• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:42am
Spirit of Hong Kong 2014
NewsHong Kong

Recruiting officer for army of givers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 4:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 12:05pm

Gloria Leung Mei-yee was four years old when she was in a traffic accident that killed her father and changed her family life forever.

"I couldn't see my father," she recalls. "But one of my brothers had blood coming from his head." She had a broken arm, she says, though memories of the time she spent in hospital are hazy. Her mother was seriously injured and would die when Leung was a teenager as a result of those injuries.

Leung has nine siblings; she's number 10, and she describes an elder sister as having sacrificed herself to bring up her and her brothers and sisters.

Now chief executive of the ExcelNet human resources consultancy, Leung has always had an interest in community welfare, and since 2011 she has run a charity called Givers.

Every cent raised is spent on helping people, thanks to Leung injecting some of her own cash and the army of nearly 2,000 volunteers - including the elderly and disabled - who see some 50 projects through every year.

Leung has been nominated for the Spirit of Hong Kong Award for personal contribution to the community by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals.

While many non-governmental organisations prefer to focus on one area, Leung does the opposite for fear she will miss out on an opportunity to bring the community together.

One of the Givers projects is on-the-job training for those looking to learn a new skill.

For example, some hairdressers are volunteering to teach people four times a month. Then, Leung and her volunteers take the students to old people's homes, where the residents get a free haircut and the trainees get some practice.

Leung's volunteers also provide entertainment at homes for the elderly, putting on magic shows, and having fun making balloon animals and singing.

The Givers volunteers are also ready to step in to help other organisations, such as the Salvation Army.

"Last winter it was very cold and the Salvation Army needed volunteers to deliver blankets, so I quickly found them 30 people to deliver the blankets," she says.

At this time of year, volunteers are recruited to deliver mooncakes to the less well-off for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Leung estimates that last year, Givers provided 5,000 volunteer hours. She reckons that will have gone up to 8,000 hours by the end of this year.

Leung, 50, is adept at sign language and is a vice-president at the charity Hong Kong Rehabilitation Power.

Sign language has become a key element of her volunteer work, and many of her recruits have disabilities - or different abilities, as she prefers to say.

Leung cites the example of one of the Givers' ambassadors, Vinson Hau, 21, who suffers from spinocerebellar ataxia, a hereditary, progressive and often fatal disorder that affects the nervous system. The disease has already killed his father and grandfather.

"We empowered him," says Leung. "We told him: you are really strong. Physically, it is difficult for him, but he now does magic tricks to entertain the residents when we visit elderly-care homes."



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