Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Willing Hearts Reflection

I personally have not visited Willing Hearts but I am writing this based on a short video taken on that day as well as personal accounts from those who have been there.
 
As a country known for being cold and unfeeling, it is indeed refreshing to hear about Willing Hearts and its operation in Singapore.
 
From different accounts, it appears that the food preparation operation is planned and supervised by a small group of dedicated people while the food is prepared by one-off volunteers. On the other hand, the food is being delivered to specific locations where the recipients of the food packets are waiting.
 
It is heartwarming to know how much joy a packet of food can bring – something that most of us take for granted. However, after thinking deeper, two things struck me. First, the issue of manpower for the food preparation operation. As the preparation is done mainly by one-off volunteers, it is possible that there are days where there are no volunteers or days where manpower is abundant. Second, from the short video, it seems that there is no proper system for the food packet distribution. The food is simply dropped off and anyone is able to grab a packet.
 
Regarding the first issue, we can use a new media platform (e.g. website) to indicate the number of people who have volunteered for that day. For example, if the kitchen only requires around 20 people, the website can indicate how many out of 20 have already indicated that they will be helping on that day. Thus, those who are keen can choose another day to help with the food preparation. In addition, we can also use a SMS reminder system to remind volunteers the day before their actual volunteering service. However, this should not be a form of restriction; anyone can still help out regardless if they have indicated that they are volunteering or if the number of volunteers has exceeded 20.
 
On the second issue, we can consider using a new device to ensure the people that need and requested for help are provided with that help first before others. Thus, we can probably create a device that is able to indicate how many packet of food a person have requested for. The recipient of the food packet will simply present their Identity Card (IC) and the volunteer will key the IC number into the device. The device will immediately indicate how many food packet the recipient has requested for. If there are leftovers, the volunteers can then distribute to others who need it. In addition, the volunteers can also add any new recipient through the device if they have requested for food packets. This will also allow the food pantry to have a better sensing of the number of food packets that are needed at a specific location.

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