[dropcap size=small]“F[/dropcap]irst and foremost, can I just ask, how many of you did not finish your food?”

This was the gently provocative question with which Nichol Ng, co-founder of The Food Bank Singapore, humorously began her thank-you speech after being announced as one of the ten individuals on The Peak’s philanthropy-themed Power List this year. As members of the audience laughed – somewhat sheepishly – Ng went on to explain how redistributing food to the needy and reducing food waste is a topic close to her heart.

Ng’s candid and heartwarming speech raised awareness of a dire food wastage issue in Singapore.

Getting food to as many “food-insecure” people as possible is just one of the pressing causes championed by the ten philanthropists and social entrepreneurs at The Peak Power List dinner held at Sheraton Towers.

The list of notable changemakers was put together in consultation with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), and with counsel from Laurence Lien, co-founder and CEO of the Asian Philanthropy Circle. Their wide-ranging causes include the creation of job opportunities for the disabled, the eradication of homelessness and autism awareness.

Swipe/click left and right to scroll through the Power Listers.

While our honourees have made a significant impact in their respective areas, many of them typically shy away from the spotlight and expressed surprise at receiving such high-profile recognition. Attending the event with his wife, Ho Swee Huat, who co-founded the Autism Association (Singapore) in 1992, recalled his response when The Peak came calling: “It was a total surprise. I rarely give interviews.”

Ho delivering his acceptance speech at the gala dinner.

Sharing similar sentiments were Sim Sin Sin (Social Food Inc) and Tay Lai Hock (Ground-Up Initiative). Aside from expressing their appreciation for the unexpected recognition, both honourees – more used to getting down and dirty in the day-to-day operations of their social enterprises – also saw a sartorial silver lining, with Sim jokingly thanking the organisers “for giving me the chance to dress up today”.

Light-hearted moments such as these, as well as musical performances by singer-pianist Sophia Joe, and pop-rock string quartet Vox, were a lively counterbalance to the weightiness of the evening’s philanthropic theme. Guests were also treated to a superb dinner by Sheraton Towers’ famed Cantonese restaurant Li Bai, accompanied by a selection of Macallan whiskies.

The evening also saw old friends reuniting and new connections being forged. American philanthropy and strategy consultant Anne-Marie Clavelli, who works for the Community Foundation of Singapore, spoke to Matthew Teng, who attended the event on behalf of his father Teng Ngiek Lian, a Power List 2016 honouree and the founder of The Silent Foundation. Clavelli noted: “Singapore is an important centre for philanthropy. I think people will be watching what happens here very closely.”

The evening ended when it was nearly midnight, but even so, the day wasn’t over for everyone. Sustainable Living Lab executive director Farah Sanwari, who works alongside the project’s co-founder and Power List 2016 nominee Veerappan Swaminathan, downed an after-meal coffee, sharing that she would have to clear some work when she got home. When it comes to bettering the world, there remains plenty to be done.

The full Peak Power List 2016, the individual honourees’ stories and videos can be accessed here.