Sometime in October 2015, I was contacted by Altel Communications for an interview for their Unsung Heroes campaign.
Understandably, their request left me feeling surprised and humbled but also elated. I have seen some of their social media campaigns on YouTube and Facebook, and I had not expected to be contacted to be interviewed as a volunteer.
The interview went really well and the communications and events team that executed the campaign is made up of such warm and sincere people that I could not help but feel at ease immediately.
In answer to their question: "How do you feel about being selected to be a Malaysian Hero by Altel?", I had this to say:
"Being recognised for one's contributions is always an honour and a privilege, but to me the greatest reward and recognition is witnessing the positive impact of my actions and initiatives. Seeing a rescued animal being adopted by a good family, watching the children I teach and mentor progress and improve and grow in their confidence, watching an organisation flourish and attract more volunteers and activists and having homeless friends come up to us and tell us that they have found a new job and will be moving into a rented apartment soon -- these are the rewards we reap everyday as volunteers."
I wasn't initially sure whether they were going to make a Facebook post or YouTube video about the work I do as a volunteer, but I was informed that I would be featured in their Corporate Calendar to be distributed to their subscribers, clients and associates. Several thousands of these calendars would be distributed all over the country, and me -- Little Old Me! -- was going to be featured in the month of September.
The photoshoot took place at the SPCA shelter and everything went swimmingly. I had obtained the prior authorisation of the SPCA Chair, Christine, for the photoshoot to take place there. Christine cracked me up when she offered this piece of unsolicited advice to the photographers and interviewers:
"Ee Lynn does everything! You want to interview someone who helps animals, the environment, children, women, the homeless, just ask her! You get all your questions answered. It's all in one package."
I was interviewed not only for my contributions as an animal shelter volunteer, advocate and rescuer, but also in my capacity as a volunteer for other causes.
A couple of months went by and I pretty much forgot about the calendar and campaign because I was so preoccupied with work and volunteering. And then December rolled along, and I received an email inviting me to the launch of the calendar. Wow, that sounds serious! And posh!
Thankfully it was almost the end of the year and there wasn't that much work to be done. Many of my bosses were already on their year-end vacations, so I could sneak out for a long lunch and attend at least an hour of the launch.
There were many other familiar faces at the launch. Most of the volunteers and activists move in the same circles. Old friendships were rekindled and new friends made. And true to our nature, once we got to know each other, we started offering to help with each other's causes.
We were heartily welcomed by the management of Altel and they introduced each of us and our causes, as well as the Unsung Heroes campaign, through a video presentation.
It was inspiring to see the work done by all the good kind people without expectation of reward or recognition.
Little old me on that big screen there. I can hardly believe it. I don't feel particularly deserving. But am grateful all the same.
We were informed that there would be an allocation for a project to be carried out for our chosen causes for the months in which each of us are featured, as part of Altel's corporate social responsibility intitiative. When I talked about my plans of getting the Altel staff to accompany the children I mentor and teach to volunteer at the Turtle Information and Conservation Centre in Masjid Tanah this year, it generated a lot of interest and many of the other volunteers wanted to join in. We would be mentoring underprivileged children and getting them to volunteer! And we would be helping endangered species and the environment! Who wouldn't want to go on such an adventure? I foresee we may have to charter two buses to transport everyone there in September.
This was followed by a laughter-filled photoshoot while holding up the official banner.
We were each offered 300 copies of the calendars but I only needed 30 - 50. I took my time going through each page. The write-up about me was beautiful. I had a lump in my throat reading it when I finally received a copy of the calendar.
I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt appreciation to Altel for bringing us volunteers and activists together, and creating an opportunity for us to promote our causes and recruit other volunteers and supporters through this awareness campaign.