The young-at-heart COH treasurer counts her family blessings
Teresa Soon, Treasurer of the Christian Outreach to the Handicapped (COH), is a friendly lady with a welcoming sense of humour who enjoys playing puzzle games on her tablet. Married for more than 20 years ‘to the same guy’, she and her engineer-husband have three children. Her family – all of whom are perennially ‘young’ – is a blessing to her.
47-year-‘young’ food-loving Teresa enjoys a respectable serving of Eggs Benedict, chilli crabs and glorious Peranakan dishes, but considers herself a ‘faux Peranakan’. Both her parents are Peranakans, yet she “only knows how to eat but not cook the dishes!”
Teresa thinks the most endearing trait of Joshua, her eldest 20-year-‘young’ son is “buying souvenirs or gifts for us each time he goes on an overseas National Service training stint. This is possibly his love language!”
17-year-‘young’ Nathaniel is living a hectic life filled to the brim with co-curricular activities and studies. “He has a cheeky sense of humour when not stressed out,” the mother-of-three added.
Teresa’s other 13-year-‘young’ daughter, is a sweetheart in many ways. She acknowledges, “Her thoughtful gestures and prayers are precious blessings to me. I hope to be her confidante always.”
Responding to a calling to serve at home and at COH
Other than her COH treasurer duties, Teresa supplements the family income by helping out at a friend’s accounting and tax services business. “The Lord has shown me to place more time serving at home – hence I am at the office only a few days a week; the rest of my week, I am mostly occupied attending to needs of family, church and bible studies,” Teresa related.
Teresa is no stranger to interaction with persons with special needs. “Within my extended family, we have two children who have Asperger’s syndrome and one with Down’s syndrome. These have had a life-changing impact on the way I view life. Living and caring for children with special needs means reviewing, redirecting priorities, learning to take one day at a time…and trusting God to enable us to lead our lives in a way that will be pleasing to Him.”
Teresa’s personal experience serving in COH Exco
When Teresa was invited to join COH’s Executive Committee (Exco), she “asked God for direction” and shares that in the weeks following, “He showed me very clearly that He would be pleased if I joined.”
Teresa has since served as a member of COH’s Exco for slightly over a year. However, she reckons, “I still have lots to learn. Life is difficult as it is; even more so when the situations are special, rare or new, with no or little prior knowledge or experience in managing them. However, we serve an all powerful, ever-loving and abundantly merciful God. With Him, life becomes more of an exciting adventure!”
Finding a place to care for persons with varying degrees of disabilities is a constant, uphill task. As such, Teresa feels that COH has been doing an amazing job in caring for those who are often marginalised. “It requires a loving and compassionate heart to do what COH does. Not only are their programs meaningful, their activity centres provide affected families with the much needed help and respite.”
Teresa’s work at COH reminds her that “we must not forget that, COH clients – who need life-long support and care – are very much a part of our society; they must not be sidestepped.”
Smiling friends and clients rallying around one another with “kampong” spirit!
Whenever Teresa visits the centres, she notices that clients enjoy warmly shaking hands with visitors. “Their childlike and friendly countenance are like the radiant smiles and greetings that one finds in small villages – the kampong spirit! In contrast, with modern, fast-paced and comparatively more affluent living conditions, we now hardly greet or exchange smiles with our neighbours. Not many are willing to wait a few seconds to share a lift!” Teresa lamented sadly.
Teresa feels that “Caring for those with special needs reveals our true human character and flaws. Attributes of patience, perseverance, positivity … these take on real, true meanings when our lives include persons with disabilities. I believe through them, God teaches us to become kinder, gentler, humbler and less self-centred. This is not an overnight transformation but a life-long process at work.”
Words of encouragement for fellow colleagues and volunteers
Teresa has these words of encouragement for fellow COH colleagues and volunteers, “You are doing wonderful work and fulfilling a God-given purpose in caring for those in need. We serve an amazingly creative God who created each and every one of us with a purpose… and takes us on a journey with Him as the guiding centre. If not for His ‘GPS’, we will get lost easily! You all are lamps of love, lighting up and adding joy to the lives of COH clients. And together, we form the Beating Heart of our society!”
About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.