The story of how Beautiful People came about:
Beautiful People started as a programme under Beyond Social Services in 2006. With just three volunteer champions, we organized various activities such as jewelry-making and make-up classes with teenage girls at risk. It soon became evident that the relationships and community that was being built, was more important than the programme.
Beautiful People started with a focus on girls, stemming from the belief that as future mothers, they have the power to create new possibilities for the next generation.
In 2009, working with our partner homes, the Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls, and AG Home, we launched our flagship programme ‘My Beautiful Life’, a structured mentoring programme that takes Big Sisters and Little Sisters through facilitated big group and small group discussions on topics such as self-awareness, self-esteem, building social networks, setting goals as well as conflict and stress management.
We started the Beautiful People Family in 2011, in keeping with our purpose of nurturing long-term relationships that support the Little Sisters through key transitions, especially after their discharge from the residential rehabilitation homes back into their families and the community.
2012 was the start of a new stage of growth for Beautiful People, as we expanded our network of partners to include The Tent and Gracehaven. This was followed by our receipt of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre’s President Award for Volunteerism (Informal Group Category) in 2013.
Over the next two years, we brought our mentoring model to new areas, including at the workplace (Good Work!), inside prisons (Free for Good), into the homes of our young mums (Baby Reader) and even overseas (GLOW). In 2015, Beautiful People came out from under the wings of its parent organisation, Beyond Social Services, to become its own legal entity, Beautiful People Sg Ltd.
2016 saw yet another significant milestone, with the launch of our first boys’ programme, “Heroes’ Journey”. This signifies a revisiting of our fundamentals, whereby as a family, we believe we need to engage the fathers, brothers, husbands to be part of the solution to repair and restore broken relationships and hurts. It is equally important to nurture boys who will grow up into supportive brothers who care for their sisters, responsible fathers who take care of their families, courageous men who make a stand for the women in their lives.
What if we opened up the world of work to our youths as a challenge? What if work did not have to be dreary or boring, but became a fun way to learn and grow? What if we could nurture kindness at workplaces?
And thus, Good Work! was born. Designed as an empowering work-trial experience for our Little Sisters, it sought to redefine the meaning of work, as well as the transformation that partners in the corporate world and the community can achieve together.
Over the course of a 10-week internship from Oct to Dec 2013, Little Sisters learnt life-skills both in the classroom and in the real world of work. Through it all, they were supported by a network of peers, Big Sisters, coaches and mentors at work, who by the end, had become important influences and a source of strength.
This video captures the ups and downs of the journey, and the quiet but powerful transformation that emerged as a result of a courageous group of people who dared to say ‘yes!’ to a dream.
Much gratitude goes to the corporate partners for our pioneer run, Au Chocolat, Glow, KFC, L’Oreal, Resorts World Sentosa, Pontiac Land, our sponsoring partners, COMO Foundation and Mastercard, and the community of work mentors, Big Sisters, Little Sisters, coaches and trainers!
What is the meaning of work?
There is a special spark about this couple, Jane Lim and Albert King. They are partners committed to a dream larger than themselves- a commitment to make it possible for every child to dream of a better future, for themselves and their families.
The couple’s journey to empower the dreams of the young ones began on a boat. A short ride ferry across the waters, from Singapore to Batam. Their destination: the orphanage that Beautiful People works with under GLOW, a programme bringing basic literacy and life skills to homeless children from all over Indonesia.
This is part of a journey that is now coming into four years for Jane. Today she is here with her Little Sisters from AG Home, repainting the orphanage for the children. For Albert, it is his first time accompanying Jane on a Beautiful People outing. He did not know it then, but it is to be just the beginning of his own journey with Beautiful People.
Albert, a leadership coach, and Jane, a former flight attendant turned sales manager, have been partners in life for six years. They are now also partners in growing the Beautiful People family.
A firm believer in providing strong leadership through role modeling, Albert is on a mission to invite boys and men to go on what he has called a “Heroes’ Journey”. It challenges the idea of the lone ranger who saves the day. Rather, his vision is to see ordinary people grow together in the simple everyday journey of challenging their own limits.
“For mentoring to be valuable and to do it well, it’s a life long journey sometimes…”
adds Albert. We all have dreams, and these dreams need the support and nurturing of our family to come true.
Beautiful People :: Heroes on a journey together
Lindsay Ambrosio glows with a sincere and sensitive spirit that refuses to be crushed by the difficulties that life has thrown at her.
“Life’s beauty is in you, you just have to embrace it,” says this young lady blossoming into a gentle yet courageous woman. “Bad things may happen to you but it does not need to define you.”
At the age of fifteen, Lindsay entered The Tent – a shelter for women and girls who suffer from broken relationships at home. The most difficult thing was finding herself alone in a strange new place, away from her mother and those she loved.
But Lindsay is determined to be more than her past. As she finds healing, Lindsay became more than an overcomer. Not only did she conquer her challenges to build a better future for herself, she is giving back to society. Today, she focuses her energy on her part-time degree studies, and paying it forward as a volunteer with Beautiful People, teaching basic literacy and life skills to orphans in Batam.
Lindsay says, “I saw how week after week, the Big Sisters turned up at The Tent to spend time with us and show us that we are loved. I want to do the same for the kids at Batam”.
For Lindsay, it is about seeing past her own darkness, to focus on the light that she can give someone else.
“I am just so grateful for the many people, especially my Big Sister, who gave me unconditional love and support to go forth in life. They believed in me and they inspired me,” says Lindsay. And she now shines that same light into someone else’s life.
Beautiful People :: The gift that keeps on giving
Shah and Shikin met four years ago at Pertapis Centre for Women and Children, where Shikin was staying when her parents were incarcerated. At the time, Shah was a stay-at-home mum who had recently relocated back to Singapore.
Shah recalls that Shikin was a very private and closed person when they first met. Looking back, Shikin reflects, “It’s about building trust; it takes a lot to trust someone outside of the family. But the more you trust, the more you can receive and give. The more you can journey together.”
Their journey together proved to be a powerful learning journey for the both of them.
The emotional support and motivation Shikin received from the Big Sisters taught Shikin to express herself better. Shah underwent her own transformational learning through her friendship with Shikin as well. “Shikin is fiercely loyal to her family. Through her, I learnt what loyalty and family really is,” Shah says.
Positive and resilient, Shikin is now a mother of three beautiful children. The relationship between Shah and Shikin has matured to an extent that it is a two-way journey that defies normal expectations of what a mentoring relationship looks like. So much so that Shikinquibs, “Shah learns from me more than I learned from her!”
Shah herself is using her learnings to power her next big idea- growing the Young Leaders. “I had this epiphany. Why don’t we have the Little Sisters contribute back to their community? Why don’t we build leaders, challenge them a little bit? Then they would feel empowered.”
“When you challenge them, they will rise,” Shah strongly believes.Her dream is that “eventually it is the Little Sisters themselves that come back to teach and volunteer.” They are the ones who will understand the Little Sisters best.
Shah and Shikin’s relationship of mutual support and challenge is beautiful in that it is creating a ripple effect, powering a generation of young leaders to come.
Beautiful People :: A movement of leaders inspiring other leaders
Life is like a book. Each day has a new page, with adventures to tell, lessons to learn and tales of bonding journeys to remember, for mothers like mentor mum, Meena and mentee mum, Dian.
Dian is one of a nine-sibling family, but she was also “adopted” into part of the Beautiful People family five years ago. “Beautiful People make me feel at home, they make me feel welcome,” says Dian. She and her son, Qoid, are part of the pilot programme by Beautiful People called “Baby Reader.”
Meena is Dian’s mentor mum. She says, “The Beautiful People family reaches out to young mothers who may be caught in challenging circumstances. Learning is not a one-way street, it goes both ways, not just for the mums and their kids, but also for the mentors and the mentees.”
So strong were the nurturing motherly bonds that Meena was present at the birth of Dian’s second child Bulan, who was born when Dian was 17 years old. For Dian, the Baby Reader programme has become so much more than assisting her with diapers and milk, and helping her son to read.
“The programme helped me to be a good mother,” says Dian. It taught her about parenting skills and how to balance her work and studies. “I was given a lot of opportunities to advance myself,” says Dian. Meena guided Dian and helped her to navigate her career path. Now the 19-year old mother works three jobs, at Pizza Hut, Juice Boost Bar and as a banquet waitress, and is planning to advance herself even further.
“The girls who come through our community create better lives for themselves and their children,” says Meena. This is where Beautiful People hopes to make a difference.
Meena and Dian are beautiful examples of how the reading journey during motherhood can empower young mums to lead the next generation into a new future. Generations that will be empowered to see beyond, to new worlds of possibilities.
Beautiful People :: A Love That Crosses Generations
If we are all prisoners of life, then together, Susie and Yannabroke the chains that had bound them. A Big Sister and Little Sister journey that began behind bars at the Changi Women’s Prison,continues in the form of an enduring friendship.
Yanna had been sentenced for drug-trafficking and was incarcerated for three and a half years. Susie, a former high-powered advertising executive turned volunteer leader was running a four-month pre-release prison programme called “Free For Good” at Changi Women’s Prison.
“We all have our inner prisons,” says Susie. “What keeps us trapped? Blame, fear, guilt, regret, shame? We share the same human condition but in different prison environments.”
Susie’s prison had been a corporate jungle that held her captive in million-dollar deals and never-ending work days. Her liberation? Volunteering with Beautiful People as a big sister. “I feel strongly about empowering women,” says Susie.
Susie found her calling and a deep sense of satisfaction in working with women like Yanna. “I am what I am because of who we all are,” goes the old African saying, a belief Susie subscribes to.
Yanna’s youthful search for love took her through many trials and tribulations culminating in a dramatic drug bust in front for her 8-year-old son. All her life, she had been weighed down by a sense of being unwanted and unloved. It led her on a path that took her from a life of drugs to a life behind bars.
She had been barren of strong female role models throughout her life. Meeting Susie through the Free For Good programmewas a turning point. “It instilled a positive aura in me. It taught me how to love myself,” she says.
The love Yannafound in the Beautiful People community was the start of her inner journey towards self-love and true liberty.Breaking free of the chains of the past liberates not only her, but also her son, who will have a strong role model in her.
Susie and Yanna broke free of their respective inner prisons. They are now free for good together. Because when you find true freedom, the beautiful journey is only just beginning.
Beautiful People :: Free for good