The Sands China Care Ambassador programme aims to give Sands China employees an opportunity to serve the local community by helping make Macau a better place to live, while contributing to its development. With a current membership of over 500 volunteers coming together from across all Sands China properties – The Venetian Macao, Sands Macao, The Plaza Macao and Sands Cotai Central – the Sands China Care Ambassadors have contributed over 4,800 voluntary hours of community service, and organized and participated in more than 60 activities since the programme was founded in August 2009. Whatever the format of community activities, memorable experiences have touched the hearts of everyone involved: reaching out to communities through events like buddies competitions and creating arts and crafts with people with intellectual disabilities; acquiring enriching experiences like learning sign language and experiencing a silence workshop; delivering festive joy in visits to live-alone elderly during Chinese New Year; and enjoying happy outings that bring underprivileged families to various exhibitions at The Venetian Macao.
Sands China Ltd. considers initiatives like this one central to its commitment towards community outreach and service. The contribution of every Ambassador’s time and talent in the past five years is highly appreciated.
Reaching out to the community
The Sands China Care Ambassadors have been reaching out to the Macau community to serve those in need through interactive experiences, helping them become confident members of society. In addition, the Ambassadors support the development of social service through regular participation in various local community events.
Through conducting a series of communal activities together with people with intellectual disabilities, the Sands China Care Ambassadors aim to enhance mutual communication and interpersonal skills, while allowing the wider community to gain greater knowledge and understanding towards people with intellectual disabilities. One of the main beneficiaries of the Ambassadors’ service has been the Macau Fuhong Society. Founded in 2003 by a group of volunteers, the non-
profit social service agency provides services to mental illness patients and people with intellectual disabilities, helping them to learn skills and knowledge to facilitate their integration into society.
Last summer the Care Ambassadors, together with 360 volunteers from more than 180 institutions and other volunteer groups, helped the Fuhong Society set a Guinness World Record for the largest soap mosaic ever constructed. Containing 18,000 pieces of hand-made soap and totaling approximately 76 square meters in size, the montage – an image of the Society’s mascot, “A Hong” – was the first such record to be set anywhere in the world.
As well as craft-based activities, the Ambassadors have also been involved in various competitions and sporting events with the disabled to provide them with more opportunities to integrate into the community. In cooperation with Macao Special Olympics, SCCAs participated in joint bowling activities together with a group of mentally handicapped youngsters. Similarly in November 2012, the Fuhong Society held a kitchen competition inviting volunteers from various companies to team up with the mentally handicapped and compete with each other in a series of games. The Sands China Care Ambassadors took part in the cooking competitions as an interactive way to be creative with cuisine, where both volunteers and participants could learn from each other.
Further reaching out to the community, the SCCAs have also helped to support local disadvantaged groups by raising funds for local charitable organizations such as Caritas Macau. The volunteers carried on their support of Caritas Macau’s annual fundraising Charity Bazaar for the third consecutive year last year at the Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre. Aside from the participation of around 60 SCCAs in the bazaar, Sands China also made a MOP 200,000 donation to Caritas to support its operational expenses. In addition, last year, a Caritas Macau Charity Sale event was also held at the heart-of-house areas of Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao and Sands Cotai Central, marking the second consecutive year the company has invited Caritas staff to run the activity. This charity sale, together with the Caritas Bazaar game booth managed by SCCAs, raised a total of MOP 100,000 for Caritas Macau. Since 2004, Sands China has contributed over MOP 2.6 million to Caritas Macau through charity dinners and bazaars to support its implementation and development of social services in the local community.
Caritas is not the only social organization to have benefitted from the Sands China Care Ambassadors’ continued support. Believing all members of society deserve equal opportunities to develop and prosper, for the last 6 years, the SCCAs have been participating in the Macau Youth Volunteer Association’s “One Day Volunteer” programme. This non-profit volunteer group – which aims to promote the spirit of volunteering, serve the community, fulfill one’s potential and broaden one’s horizons – initiated its One Day Volunteer event back in 2000, and aims to encourage the general public to use the opportunity to serve others in need. Sands China employee Annabella Ng, who is keen on participating in volunteer work whenever she is available and has been a Care Ambassador since 2011, says: “I think participating in volunteer work not only helps others but also lets us gain help from them in return. I could also experience the challenges of people from different social statuses when I get in touch with them.”
In keeping with this ethos, the Sands China Care Ambassadors have been participating in One Day Volunteer since 2009, having taken it in turn to serve not only the elderly, but also underprivileged kids. 50 SCCAs participated in two activities for this year’s edition, where they spent a day with local needy families doing indoor leisure and cultural activities, as well as with elderly residents from the Caritas Macau Meng Fai Nursing Home, where they sang along with the seniors and played some interactive games with them.
The Sands China Care Ambassadors invite people from various organizations to the company’s latest exhibitions, anniversary celebrations, special parties and more, offering fun and happy moments to those in need. In June, 30 SCCAs invited 60 local children and their parents from the Macau Down Syndrome Association to explore the 10 interactive zones of the Transformers exhibition at The Venetian Macao, wishing to brighten the lives of physically and mentally challenged children. “The Macau Down Syndrome Association is a strong advocate of the rights of people with Down’s and is concerned with enhancing their quality of life; an event like today’s is a wonderful way to engage and interact with this important segment of our community, and we’re very pleased it has provided the Association its first opportunity for collaboration with a private corporation,” said Teresa Lao, Chairwoman of the Executive Board of the Macau Down Syndrome Association.
Similarly last May, members of the Macau Association of Parents of the Mentally Handicapped were treated to a fun afternoon at the Italian-themed Venetian Carnevale at the outdoor lagoon area of The Venetian Macao. Invited and accompanied by 27 Sands China Care Ambassadors, the 30 guests were given an opportunity to experience the authentic Italian carnival with fun-filled mask painting activities, watching a traditional Italian glass-blowing demonstration and taking a magical ride on the beautiful carousel. According to Lio Sao Wa, Executive Director of The Macau Association of Parents of the Mentally Handicapped, “Every time when SCCAs visit and interact with the mentally challenged kids, they feel tremendously warm and happy.” The association has been receiving donations from Sands China since 2005, and the amount received over the years has totaled over 1.1 million. The company also purchases flower bouquets made by the association members to give to guests on Mother’s Day. These initiatives and donations provide funds to support multi-cultural development, primary care service and services for elderly parents and their children. Likewise, carrying on the Carnevale tradition and as part of Sands China’s long-term efforts to support the disabled athletes who represent the Macau Special Olympics (MSO), Sands China volunteers also spent an afternoon with MSO athletes and their parents visiting this year’s Venetian Carnevale 2014, having lunch at The Venetian Macao’s Bambu restaurant and enjoying a stroll in the Taipa Houses-Museum. “We’re really grateful for Sands China’s ongoing efforts to engage with the Macau Special Olympics and help our athletes improve their social skills, which is essential for them to integrate into society,” said Hetzer Siu, National Director of the MSO. “The participating members surely will benefit from the activities today.”
Such events are not only hosted at The Venetian Macao. Sharing its anniversary festivities with local community groups has also been a tradition for Sands Macao over the last few years. This past May, Sands Macao celebrated its 10th anniversary by inviting over 300 children and families from some of the city’s underprivileged groups to the Sands Ballroom for lunch. The seven community groups attending were Caritas Macau, the Fuhong Society of Macau, Make-A-Wish Hong Kong, the Macau Association of Parents of the Mentally Handicapped, the Macau Deaf Association, Macau Holy House of Mercy – Centre for the Rehabilitation for the Blind, and the Macau Special Olympics. Also attended by SCCA volunteers, the participants and their parents were treated to a buffet spread, all the while enjoying lively entertainment by a caricature artist, face painter and balloon twisters. Two special performances also took the stage: a group of 10 local ballerinas and a speed-painting artist.
Through the process of learning and participating, Sands China Care Ambassadors step into the world of the handicapped by experiencing their daily challenges. Such experiences enrich the Ambassadors’ knowledge and skills to help them better serve the community.
To enhance communication and to understand deaf people, back in 2011, 30 Sands China Care Ambassadors participated in a sign language workshop organized by the Macau Deaf Association. In the two-hour course, the volunteers were able to appreciate some of the challenges hearing impaired people face, as well as learning some learn sign language. SCCA volunteers likewise joined the Macau Deaf Association’s “Experience the World of Silence” initiative, where they learnt about the everyday life of the deaf and the hearing-impaired in a soundless world. As well as learning about the structure of the eardrum and the basics of sign language, they also went on a discovery trip.
Besides learning about hearing impairment, the SCCAs have also been supporting Orbis Macau in promoting eye health and preventing eye diseases. In October 2010, a group of 36 SCCAs visited Orbis’ Flying Eye Hospital, to learn more about the mobile ophthalmic hospital and its teaching facilities. The Ambassadors visited the operating theatre, classroom and flight deck and learnt about Orbis’ work, as well as experiencing some of the challenges eye disease sufferers are facing. Through this visit, the SCCAs not only learned about eyesight illnesses, but also the urgency of offering assistance to those affected.
Delivering festive joy
During holidays and festivals, the Sands China Care Ambassadors organize different kinds of visits and celebrations to share joy and warmth with the underprivileged.
As an annual tradition, the SCCAs pay visits to live-alone elderly and help clean their homes before Chinese New Year. This January, a total of 75 SCCA volunteers spent a Sunday morning visiting the homes of the elderly in Macau who live on their own and are users of the Peng On Tung Tele-Assistance programme. There are over 3,100 Peng On Tung users, and half of them are live-alone elderly, with an estimated growth rate of 5% per year. Divided into 25 teams, the volunteers visited 25 households where they helped out with the annual tradition of spring cleaning just prior to the lunar New Year for the elderly no longer able to perform this annual tradition for themselves. In addition to a deep clean, SCCA volunteers dispensed gift packs and cheer to those they visited. Lam Sut Kam, Supervisor of Peng On Tung’s Tele-
assistance Centre, expressed her appreciation to the SCCAs and remarked how enthusiastic they are in helping and interacting with the elderly. As a demonstration of this, one SCCA volunteer commented, “I was really happy to participate in these home visits and spring cleaning this year. I have been participating since 2010, and I’ve enjoyed the experience so much, I volunteered my time again this year. When you see the happy smiles on the faces of those we visit, so grateful for the service we render, so eager to engage in conversation – it warms the heart.”
Likewise, continuing their Chinese New Year good work, for the seventh consecutive year, volunteers from the SCCA programme also escorted 100 elderly from the Macao Federation of Trade Unions to Bambu restaurant at The Venetian Macao for an afternoon tea buffet. “I love participating in this annual event,” said one of the Care Ambassadors. “It’s a great feeling to take time out of our busy schedules to interact in a meaningful way with the local community. They’re obviously delighted by the whole proceeding: the tea, the entertainment, each other’s company – it leaves me with a very warm feeling.”
Chinese New Year isn’t the only holiday the Sands China Care Ambassadors aim to share with the underprivileged. In 2011 the SCCAs hosted local community organizations at a Christmas party at The Venetian Macao. About 400 children, youth and their families from the Fuhong Society of Macau, Macau Special Olympics, the Association of the Parents of the Mentally Handicapped of Macau and the Macau Association for the Mentally Handicapped joined in the festive event, where Santa made an appearance, as did singing gondoliers, ballroom dancers, jugglers, and a talented cast of Streetmosphere performers.
Sands China has a strong history with various local community groups. Macau Special Olympics members and their families were treated to a fun day out at the Macao Science Museum with Sands China Care Ambassadors in November of the same year, while members from the Macau Association for the Mentally Handicapped’s Kai Hong Centre enjoyed time at Ice World in September.
Birthdays are also another special occasion where the SCCAs have showcased their ability to spread merriment to the underprivileged. In October 2013 Caritas Macau launched its “Grow Up Healthily” campaign where birthday blessings and cakes are delivered to children aged 4 to 12 by Caritas staff together with volunteers from different sectors. 45 SCCA helpers organized home visits for 14 families over six days to celebrate with children who had birthdays in March, bringing birthday cakes and balloons along with them to celebrate with the thrilled kids.
Sands China Ltd. is proud that the contributions made by Sands China Care Ambassadors to the local community have been recognized by Macau. Since 2010, the Ambassadors have received special awards by the Macau Youth Volunteer Association and the Voluntary Social Services Association of Macao on International Volunteer Day, December 5. Awards given by the Macau Youth Volunteer Association to the Sands China Care Ambassadors include a Rainbow Life Top 10 Best Volunteer Award and a Rainbow Life Program Best Volunteer Award, while Awards given by the Voluntary Social Services Association of Macao include three Macao Top 10 Best Volunteer Awards and four Outstanding Volunteer Awards.
Working at Sands China for 10 years and an SCCA for over four years, volunteer Martin Ieong received an award as a Macao Top 10 Best Volunteer in 2012. He says he has learnt communications skills in the interaction with various groups during his volunteer work. Talking about the reason for his award he said, “The company offers a variety of community activities for us to participate (in), and I’m fully dedicated to each activity such as listening to the elderly patiently, and I try to learn something out of it. I often share my volunteer experiences with my colleagues and invite more of my peers to join me.”