ABLE’s 10th anniversary year has been an eventful one, with the COVID-19 pandemic changing life as we know it on many levels. While this change is unprecedented, a look at ABLE’s history quickly shows how the ability to change and adapt has been a part of ABLE’s decade-long journey from the start.

2009

The beginning of
ABLE’s journey

ABLE’s story began in September 2009 when the Catholic Social and Community Council approached ABLE’s Founding Chairman, Mr Raymundo Yu, to help Caritas Singapore establish a charity serving people with physical disabilities. The cause resonated strongly with Raymundo and he recruited a group of like-minded individuals with a calling to serve this segment of society. ABLE was officially incorporated on 25 October 2010 and began operations as a member of Caritas Singapore, the social and community arm of the Catholic Church in Singapore. ABLE obtained certification as an Institution of a Public Character on 24 November 2010.

2010

With no premises to its name, ABLE reached out to the physically disabled community through collaborations with the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) and Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore (MDAS).

A maiden project with Handicaps Welfare Association was the Centre for the Physically Challenged (CPC), which was run between December 2010 to May 2015, providing rehabilitation, training and Return-To-Work services. CPC offered a range of services to help adults who became physically challenged during their productive years.

The centre provided necessary occupational training to help persons with physical disabilities become productive again and re-integrate back into society within the shortest possible time. Through the project, 326 clients were served, with over 500 rehabilitation sessions, 160 courses and 182 job/project placements.

Caring for a person with muscular dystrophy can be an emotionally and physically challenging task as it requires long hours of attentive care. ABLE ran Agape Respite@MDAS with Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore between March 2013 to September 2017 to give caregivers the chance to energise and refresh themselves.

Adopting a caregiver-centric approach, Agape Respite@MDAS helped caregivers to take a rest and acquire self-improvement skills, granting them the peace of mind that their care recipients are in a safe hands of reliable caretakers. Caregiver appreciation events were held regularly to honour the important role of caregivers in society. Over 200 family caregivers and 140 care recipients were served through centre- and home-based programmes.

2011

Toast Box began a partnership with ABLE in 2011, helping to raise funds and boost awareness about ABLE’s services to a wider audience through events and fundraising drives. ABLE’s Executive Director Gene Lee is pictured here with Tosh Zhang, Maxi Lim and Noah Yap from the cast of Ah Boys To Men, who made a special appearance to make coffee for their fans at Toast Box’s “Lim Kopi For A Cause” charity drive.

In 2016, Toast Box’s volunteered in packing Sprouting Kits, that were sold at Toast Box’s outlets to raise funds for ABLE. The sprouting kits contained soil compost processed from Toast Box’s recycled coffee grounds and seeds for growing edible ‘Bak Choy’ or ‘Kai Lan’ sprouts.

2013
Caritas Singapore held a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony for upcoming Agape Village at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh in September 2013. Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia conducted the rite of blessing of the construction site while Archbishop William Goh conducted the rite of blessing of the cornerstone. They were joined by Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing.
As part of their Return-to-Work programme, a group of ABLE’s physically challenged clients sat for the LCCI examinations to prepare them for a new career in bookkeeping. Accountants on ABLE’s Board of Directors served as tutors, and four clients passed on their first try. However, finding employers who were willing to hire persons with disabilities proved to be difficult, and from that challenge, ABLE SEAS was born.

Today, ABLE SEAS provides professional bookkeeping and payroll services to small charities and businesses, while employing and training persons with disabilities, providing them sustainable employment in a productive and safe environment.

2015

ABLE moved to Agape Village in late October 2015. With a new place to call home, this move marked the beginning of ABLE’s Rehabilitation & Training Centre, with the space and equipment necessary for its physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy services. Agape Village is also home to ABLE’s Respite Centre, where family caregivers can feel comfortable, rest and befriend other caregivers while their care recipients are engaged in activities such as music therapy.

2017
President Halimah visited Agape Village and toured ABLE’s Centres and ABLE SEAS’s Office, as well as the centres of other Caritas Member Organisations.
ABLE’s Return-To-Work clients took part in an in-house work trial in September to October 2018 to conduct a telephone survey on residents’ use of SkillsFuture Credits. This was a collaboration project with North West Community Development Council (NW CDC). Clients and family caregivers received training and were paired with ABLE staff, who coached them in making calls and addressing queries. Through this work trial, clients honed their communication and administrative skills, which increased their employability and confidence to re-enter the workforce.
2018
An annual tradition at ABLE every Lunar New Year is for the ABLE family to come together for a lo-hei lunch at ABLE’s Respite Centre. Pictured here is the 2018 Lunar New Year lunch celebration.
It is especially important for persons with disabilities to develop social interaction skills with people in the community. Our volunteers help our care recipients reintegrate into society through our weekly person-to-person (P2P) befriending programme.
The service of ABLE’s volunteers contributes significantly to the social reintegration of the physically challenged community and their caregivers. Every year, we organise a Volunteer Appreciation Night, where our volunteers from various backgrounds get to meet and mingle with each other and our board members.
After experiencing a motor accident, Amin came to ABLE for rehabilitation as part of his Return-To-Work journey. Amin’s employer, Mega Adventure, was extremely supportive of his journey back to work, and they have supported ABLE through several charity events.
Just like ABLE’s Lunar New Year lo-hei tradition, ABLE’s Respite Team also has an annual Christmas Light-up tradition where our caregivers and care recipients join in to light up the Christmas tree with our board members in our Respite Centre.
2019

Singapore President Halimah Yacob visited ABLE to meet our clients and caregivers. It was a day of lively song performances as she joined our care recipients in their music therapy session, and she also joined in our caregivers during their baking class.

In the lead up to Madam President’s visit, our clients, family caregivers, employees, management and board members expressed their wishes and hopes for the Singapore Bicentennial celebrations in an artwork that was gifted to the President

ABLE’s 2019 Charity Dinner was one to remember, where all ABLE employees came together with each person playing a key role in making it a successful evening of fundraising. The guests enjoyed a night of exciting activities including a live painting demonstration, where the artwork was purchased by a generous donor during the live auction.

ABLE’s clients, caregivers, volunteers and employees came together to do the Purple Parade march in support of disability inclusion at the 2019 Purple Parade at Suntec City. It was the first time that ABLE participated in the Purple Parade, a national movement to support inclusion and celebrate abilities of persons with disabilities.

2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Singapore, the ABLE team innovated quickly to continue serving clients and caregivers via teleconferencing tools, to ensure no one was left behind. ABLE’s mission to empower the physically challenged to live dignified and independent lives remains important, perhaps now more than ever, as we work to support the vulnerable in our midst. Looking ahead, ABLE hopes to continue innovating to reach out to more clients and caregivers in the comfort of their own homes.

We launched ABLE’s 10th Anniversary celebrations in conjunction with our annual Lunar New Year lunch in 2020. Little did we know that this would be our first and last in-person event of the year. ABLE’s partners, board members, benefactors, CSR partners, volunteers and employees of ABLE & ABLE SEAS participated in a traditional lo-hei and enjoyed a festive lunch together as we ushered in the Year of the Rat.

There was a mini exhibition showcase where guests could learn more about ABLE’s history, current programmes and upcoming events. Our guests took our ‘Disability Inclusion Pledge’ and wrote encouraging messages for our Family Caregivers on our ‘Wall of Wishes’. We screened a short video of ABLE’s history over the past decade, ending with a short animation and unveiling of ABLE’s new 10th Anniversary logo. Our colleague Charlotte led our guests through the Yusheng, Catholic-style.

Communication is especially important during times of crisis. ABLE conducted its inaugural Town Hall virtually in May 2020, during Singapore’s COVID-19 Community Circuit Breaker. Our leaders recognized the commitment and effort of ABLE and ABLE SEAS employees who innovated quickly to continue serving our beneficiaries and clients during these work-from-home times.