How To Lead By Example And Inspire The Next Generation Of Givers
If it’s said that a virtuous woman benefits three generations, then Kelly Keak may be a living embodiment of this Chinese proverb. The managing director of MTM Skincare was first inspired to start giving back to society by her mother, Dr Susan Teng, who brought the Japanese beauty brand to Singapore in 2003.
“My mum is the one who sparked my interest in charity work,” recalls Keak, who in 2017 took over the reins of the family business. “She’s a woman who wears many hats and balances it so well, and she influenced my brother and I to have a giving mentality.”
As a long-time supporter of the Community Chest in Singapore, a non-profit organisation that channels resources to the country's social service sector, Keak devotes her efforts towards inspiring other next-generation business owners and leaders to rethink philanthropy and their role in it.
That's where the organisation's Onefor10 initiative comes in—it is designed to connect those with the ability and resources to give, with vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Singapore. In partnering with Onefor10, philanthropists will have a strategic plan tailored to their giving goals and will be aligned to their personal values such that their generous gift achieves maximum impact for all involved. The initiative supports around 80 social service agencies in Singapore that care for the disadvantaged in the country, including children with special needs, vulnerable seniors, low-income families and people dealing with mental health issues.
Supporting the elderly is a cause close to Keak’s heart. As a sub-committee member of the Community Chest Fu Dai event team since 2017, she helps to organise an annual initiative every Lunar New Year to pack and deliver thousands of festive bags containing food and household items to seniors and families in need each year.
Together with her staff at MTM, Keak also does regular visits to the Tai Pei Old People’s Home to spend time with the residents. And, every year on New Year’s Day, they would also volunteer at Willing Hearts, a volunteer-run charity benefitting vulnerable communities in Singapore, to help prepare and distribute food from its soup kitchen.
Often, a little volunteer would tag along—Keak’s six-year-old son. “It is a good opportunity to plant the seed of loving and caring for others in him,” she says. “When I had him, I started thinking about how I can change my life to be a positive influence on him. I also thought about how to create a ripple effect in the lives of my family, friends and community.”
“One year, my son told me he wanted to celebrate his birthday at an elderly home and I saw him generously donating his savings to them. That’s when I knew it was the right thing to cultivate these positive values in him from a young age.”
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I believe that if we can make just one small change, even something as small as being kind to just one other person, our children will see, learn and follow suit
Just as Keak was inspired by the compassion and strength she observed in her mum growing up, her son now bears witness to her charitable works.
“I believe that if we can make just one small change, even something as small as being kind to just one other person, our children will see, learn and follow suit,” she says.
In addition to being a supporter of the Community Chest, Keak is also involved with an educational charity, Halogen Foundation Singapore, which focuses on promoting youth leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as Sian Chay Medical Institution and Singapore Cancer Society.
Even during her personal time, she’s often also thinking about charity. For her mum’s 60th birthday last January, for instance, Keak planned the celebration with a fundraising segment. S$10,000 was raised that evening for Sian Chay Medical Institution, with Teng matching the amount with an additional donation.
For Keak and her family, giving has become a way of life—and this is looking to be the case for their generations to come. Like Indian actor and producer Salman Khan once said, “The goal isn’t to leave a better world for your kids, it’s to leave better kids for the world.”
Learn more about the Onefor10 initiative by the Community Chest (Singapore).