Every year, we scope out 18 women who are driven by a desire to bring positive change and have achieved success in their chosen field as part of the Great Women Of Our Time awards. Meet 2019’s Public Service & Education nominee, Adeline Thong, Co-Founder, The Last Resort:
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Meet Adeline Thong – Great Women Of Our Time 2019 Public Service & Education Nominee
For over a decade, the joy of seeing someone being able to have a good night’s rest, help, some respite and stability to do what they needed to do lead Adeline and her husband, Kenneth, to open up their home to complete strangers.
They dubbed their little haven The Last Resort.
“We were inspired by how the early Church lived and shared with one another such that no one had a need,” explains Adeline, who has helped around 35 youths to date.
“It’s easy to look at what we do not have and overlook the opportunity to share what we do have, even if it doesn’t look like a lot. Not many of us can accomplish spectacular things, but every one of us can do simple normal things that make a difference. That is what community sharing is about.”
Adeline says the young people she’s helped are made up of could be unwed mothers, teenagers who lived on the streets or those with mental problems, who would otherwise have nowhere to go.
“We saw a gap in our social infrastructure in supporting young people who are stranded without a safe home or family, and we saw a need to respond. We have a home, and if it’s what they need, we’ll make room,” says Adeline who started The Last Resort in 2007.
“We have a responsibility to look out for our young. 16 to 24-years-old is a critical age group before one becomes an adult. I see what we do as helping them to cross over safely to where they need to be. What would happen to them if they have nowhere to go? What would become of them if no help is extended?”
The 40-year-old hopes to increase the number of youths she can house, saying, “As long as we have a home, we will keep it open. Perhaps not to everyone, but to as many people as we can, who need a safe space.”
Adeline, who has no children herself, says it is up to Singaporeans to make giving back and helping others a reality.
“When Kenneth and I flew back from Cambodia after visiting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) there, and seeing the impact of the international communities caring for the unprivileged, landing in Changi airport suddenly brought the realisation that no one will intentionally come to ‘Crazy Rich’ Singapore to help the poor here,” she shares.
“If we locals don’t do it, no one else will, and the invisible disadvantaged will remain faceless and nameless, abandoned by their own.”
She explains that she has also been the recipeint of goodwill from others and has a desire to pay it forward in any way that she can.
“I’ve been given a lot of opportunities growing up and I desire that for young people too,” she tells us, adding she loves “getting to know young people and to be a part of their maturing years. It’s not always easy because growing up is tough and can be tumultuous. What gives me a lot of joy is to see them being able to continue on.
“Every young person should be given the opportunity to flourish, no matter what their backgrounds are like as long as they are willing.”
She explains that while she does not consider The Last Resort to be a shelter she does acknowledge that it offers respite to those who need it and even though the logistics of opening her home to others is not always smooth-sailing, she will continue to keep her doors open regardless.
“There may be difficult times but it doesn’t mean we stop availing our home which we relish, to people who otherwise would not have it,” she says.
“We are a community who cares for young people, but truly there aren’t enough homes for the number of young people needing one.”
Photos: Vee Chin & Tan Wei Te
Fashion Direction: Aaron Kok
Styling Assistants: Juliet Suen & An Lyn Chee
Hair: Jason Wong/Salon Nu, Grego & Ash Loi/Sonder Salon
Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, Hongling Lim, Rina Sim, Wee Ming & Jyue Huey (for Shann Sok)
Location: 89NR, The Working Capitol, Botanico at The Garage & The Summerhouse