By Anne Ho
The Pop Up Barn at Spooner Road is a recent initiaitive by Cornerstone Community Services to offer useful household items to needy families at an extremely low cost. Anne Ho writes about her volunteering experience at the pop up stall.
Volunteers and residents at the Spooner Road Pop Up Barn
a brief history
Spooner Road feels like a place that time forgot. Its two yellow-and-green HDB blocks, imaginatively named Melati and Kemuning after flowers, had trains trundling past in the 1970s. Today, the railway track has long been silent from disuse and wild vegetation has taken over. The one, two and three-room flats here now provide low-rent social housing for a transient population of Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasian families. Cornerstone Community Services (CCS) collaborated with SHINE Children and
Youth Services to hold mini-bazaars, offering useful things from The Barn (thrift shop by CCS) virtually for free: clothes for the whole family, household items, bags, games, toys, books and decorations. CCS volunteers who had come to help out at the bazaars found themselves richly blessed by the experience. The Barn pop-up stall provided an opportunity to get to know people who live on the fringe of society.
"It was quite fun chatting with the residents. We got a chance to interact with them in a non-intrusive way. Mothers came to get things for their children and we would ask how old their kids were and help to choose something suitable for them," commented Irene, one of the CCS volunteers.
Having a close-up view of the needs of the less fortunate brought reality home. Touched by an 11-year-old boy who used his coupons to get clothes for his younger brother but not for himself, Shirley (another CCS volunteer) recalled, "He knew what size fitted his brother – he must be a good helper to his mum at home."
In general, the residents were cheerful and appreciative. One young mother, who received nice clothes from The Barn, in turn opened her own purse to bless The Barn with a small donation.
Our several visits so far have given but a small taste of the immense efforts that are regularly done by others. We hope we will continue to make ourselves available to help the community. As Peter, a volunteer from CCS pointed out, "We've merely had a taste of the serving that the CCS staff and other volunteers provide on a much more regular basis."