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Volunteers are the heart of the day room

Case study of the Ocalenie Foundation Consultation Point in Łomża (city in the north-eastern Poland)

Day room would not function without the commitment of our volunteers. We greatly appreciate their work. As shown by various studies, up to 67% of Poles, are not engaged socially, what means that are not involved in voluntary organizations or in work for their environment or other people (on the basis of a report from the study Klon-Jawor “Social commitment of Poles”, 2013.). In Łomża no one believed that it is possible to obtain volunteers, and together with them develop and improve ourselves. It happened to us, as the first non-governmental organization in Łomża. Till now we have a network of volunteers who, in different circumstances, mobilize, and are able to help us at various events and activities.

Volunteers in the Ocalenie Foundation Consultation Point in Łomża, can be divided into 3 groups:

  1. those working for the day room and foreign students;
  2. volunteers – teachers within foreign language courses for foreigners;
  3. administrative and office support.

Voluntary work generates a generational change, but also mental, among young people, who come to us. It should be emphasized that we focus on a family atmosphere, a lot of young people establish friendly relations. Employees of the Foundation are trying to give the volunteers as much as possible to enable them to understand the situation in the environment. We try to ensure the greatest possible number of training courses and workshops in different range. We rely on their self-development. Common trips, social gatherings are cementing our relationship and commitment to the idea. There is no hierarchy in our age, or discrimination based on age. We rely on partnership relations and that is what young people really like. First of all, they work for the Foundation generates a change of attitudes in their environment, among the loved ones. The priority is to organize such voluntary activities that arouse among the volunteers a sense of security and close ties to the family. Youth in Łomża became a mentor, a tutor for the young imigrants. Volunteers help immigrant children with their homework, become their friends and confidants. Better results cannot be imagined. Through volunteering we are represented in most of schools and universities in the region. We have our “ambassadors”.

Recruitment of volunteers

Someone may ask: how do we acquire volunteers? The answer is very simple. Typically, these are people who stumbled upon us in school, or college dormitory. Through years of operation in Łomża we have developed strong cooperation with educational institutions in the city. It is worth emphasizing that the schools in the region are also cooperating among themselves. As we know, education programs have records of tolerance and intercultural dialogue. Great in this scheme fits our business. Often, we also use their private connections or links with the teachers, what makes it easier for us to communicate and make our relationships stronger. Often volunteers are inviting us to their schools to show off what they do in their spare time, or the desire to change the attitude of their class or peer group. It should be remembered that we never instructed faculty. It is a professional group that has a lot of experience and the enormity of the duties, which often consume a lot of their time and work. We try to show rather simple, easy and activating methods for changing attitudes or education about “foreigners”.

Authors: Alicja Łepkowska, Emil Jarnutowski
Editing: Kinga Białek
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