Ronny first came to know about Assisi Hospice 22 years ago in 1994. Then, he was a mid-level treasury professional and was actively involved in the industry’s Forex Association (later renamed ACI – Singapore). He came to know a fellow committee member, Victor Ong – a warm, positive and veritable ‘livewire’ who brought energy and camaraderie to their meetings and made everyone feel welcome. Sadly, Victor was stricken with cancer and passed away, leaving behind his wife and young children. In memory of their friend, the Association decided to organise a charity golf game, which raised $60,000. They were surprised when Victor’s widow pledged the full donation to Assisi Hospice where Victor was cared for during his last days. What she did not expect was that her act of gratitude drove Ronny to find out more about Assisi Hospice.
Ronny met with the FMDM Sisters and was captivated by their mission and work. He said, “I felt deeply for the cause and decided that I should help them raise money to support their services”. When Ronny rose up the ranks in the local market place as President of ACI and later, as Chief Country Officer of Deutsche Bank, he mobilised his employers, colleagues and peers to help Assisi Hospice collect funds for ward refurbishment, children day care program, etc. The combination of his professional standing and commitment to Assisi’s cause made him an invaluable help to the sisters.
Despite his corporate success, when he was approached by the then Chairman, Mr J Y Pillay in 2007 to join the Assisi Hospice’s Board of Directors, he was not sure that he was strong enough to be directly involved in the work of looking after the dying. Well, the source of his strength has to be divine as he became the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the next nine years.
From being a fundraiser, Ronny took on the leadership role at Assisi Hospice. Ronny started to focus on key challenges at hand, including tackling growing numbers on the inpatient waiting list and advocating for greater visibility and recognition for palliative care.
With the stewardship of the Board and Ronny, Assisi Hospice will have a new home that provides an unprecedented level of dignity of care. The new Assisi Hospice is a bigger hospice built on state land next to the current premise. The new Assisi Hospice is designed to provide a cosy home-like environment for patients and their families; patients and families will be engaged in clinical care, therapeutic activities and psychosocial care in an environment that ensues dignity and provides the comforts of home. In addition, there will be dedicated wards for paediatric and dementia patients. When ready, it will be the largest and most comprehensive hospice providing home care, day care and inpatient services. Ronny further shared: “We did go far enough, setting a new baseline for the sector and future new hospices will also benefit.”
Ronny found his work in Assisi Hospice a “meaningful and significant volunteering undertaking”. What many of us see is a selfless and tireless man who has helped make palliative care available to the needy, and also helped shaped the realisation of quality and compassionate palliative care in Assisi.