My volunteering ESCapade – Elena Saucă’s testimonial

Almost three months have passed since I finished one of the most complex, and complete ESCapades so far, and as time goes by, the experience becomes more and more valuable. And that’s why I decided to put it into words- maybe it will inspire you to act where you are.

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EduVol – Volunteering as an Educational Opportunity

We have started a new Erasmus+ project – EduVol – Volunteering as an Educational Opportunity, coordinated by PDCO: Platforma dobrovolnickych centier a organizacii (Slovakia) within a strong partnership with Önkéntes Központ Alapítvány (Hungary), Udruga za razvoj civilnog drustva SMART (Croatia) and SCW: Stowarzyszenie Centrum Wolontariatu (Poland).

Our objectives are:

• to enhance the competencies and opportunities of youth to fully participate in its society (local, regional, country and EU level), both economically and socially.

• to motivate young people to engage and

• to enable youth workers to develop key competences, sense of initiative and civic participation through one of successful strategies wide spread in the world, service-learning.

• to improve the quality and relevance of the education offer in the field of implementation of the service-learning strategy in youth work through development of a training curriculum and related documents and manuals adapted to the context of Central and Eastern European countries;

• to enhance capacities of organizations and youth workers in implementing service-learning concept in practice and possibilities of its implementation in cooperation with local as well as international youth volunteers;

• to increase the quality of youth work primary in area of youth volunteering.

Our proposed method: Service Learning

Servicelearning is a teaching-learning methodology that generates meaningful learning, allows problem-based learning, offers concrete solutions and optimizes the development of knowledge, competencies and attitudes by motivating students to investigate and be involved with the social context with a solidarity approach (PASO JOVEN, 2004; Tapia, 2006).

The main results:

• Training for youth workers in service-learning and handbook for trainers

• Manual for youth workers on how to implement Service Learning in their work and good practice examples

• Manual for youth on how develop Service Learning project

• Webinar – a graphically facilitated introduction in Service Learning Interactive video about service-learning.

The project is funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ programme, key action 2, Strategic Partnerships.

Family Volunteering

On December 1st 2019, a new Pro Vobis project started, through which we aim to present and convince you of the value of Family Volunteering.

The project is implemented in partnership with: Volunteer Ireland (Ireland), Hrvatski centar za razvoj volonterstva (Croatia), Freiwilligen-Zentrum Augsburg (Germany), Vestre Aker Frivilligsentral (Norway) and Centre Europeen du Volontariat (Belgium).

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Corporate volunteers in action – AbbVie Week of Possibilities

For more than 27 years, our organization- Pro Vobis, believed in the power of volunteering to change for the better the communities with which it interacts.

Experience has shown us that collaboration has its magical force to multiply the impact we can have on a community. Since 2017 we became part of the Points of Light Global Network and we witness the powerful effects massive corporate volunteering actions can have upon beneficiaries from all sorts of backgrounds.

This year’s corporate volunteering adventure started with AbbVie, a company that decided to volunteer for a school in a rural area, close to the capital city Bucharest.
On June 7th, 2019, our mission was to bring a little color to a place full of dreams and curious and courageous children, who day after day find education as a tool to create better lives for themselves – at School no.1 from Nuci, Ilfov county.
37 volunteers from AbbVie Romania became „The Color Creators” and managed to transform the school spaces, through their hard work and their desire to make children feel encouraged and enthusiastic regarding their learning environment. Because the school had 4 different structures, we wanted to leave our „colorful marks” in all the locations of the school and even in the local library.

In the first school location, the main challenge we identified was the lack of a gym or sports field where students could enjoy physical activities and be engaged in maintaining an active lifestyle. We decided to use what we had at our disposal, so we transformed the outdoor sports ground into a complex hand-painted 105-meter trail or sensory path, that stimulates movement and sports exercises. 
We also reconditioned the football gates and set up picnic tables to create an outdoor area where children could enjoy some time in nature, attending lessons and creative activities outside the classrooms.

For the second school location, AbbVie volunteers decorated the interior halls with educational and playful elements to create an interactive route that stretched over the entire surface of the hall. We also transformed the stairs in the building –  with either a multiplication table and some and inspirational quotes for the children, on the other. Outside, right at the entrance of the school, we hand-painted a rocket-hopscotch so that children could enter the schoolyard jumping and laughing, ready for a new school day!

In the third school building, the kindergarden structure, volunteers focused on the outside of the building. They decorated the exterior facade with playful elements (sunflowers, birds, sun, clouds). We even had one child that requested a cat and a butterfly from the volunteers and they delivered on the spot, in the most beautiful way. The volunteers hand-painted interactive and educational trails on the yard alleys, containing letters, numbers and animals that encourage movement. They also reconditioned old tyres to create flower installations with „minions” – characters so loved by the children.

The impact the volunteers had on the local community didn’t stop here – we also wanted to make sure that we transform the library into a pleasant place for youngsters, creating a suitable context in which school teachers could bring pupils for activities of all sorts, as the library was not really used because of its lack of chairs. So, volunteers assembled new bookshelves and chairs and painted a colorful corner with the message „A book is a dream you can hold in your hands”.

At the end of the day, our biggest joy was the mobilization of the local community. Parents waited for the volunteers with cookies and home-made jam and bread and the children wanted to get involved and were curious about why people decided to come to their school and volunteer. More than that, this corporate volunteering activity managed to leave visible trails in the community- the library is used more than ever by the children and each and every educational or colorful element makes the pupils come to school with delight! It made the AbbVie Week of Possibilities a true succes for the very first ever AbbVie corporate activity in Romania and the Pro Vobis team was proud to set it all up. We are still in contact with the school director, who was remarkably appreciative of the volunteers’ efforts and we hope to be able to go back to the Nuci school.

CiVi – Trained Coordinators – Involved Volunteers

In Romania there are 25 volunteer centers providing the community with similar services, but differently organized, in the field of volunteering. Having this fact as a starting point, Cluj-Napoca Volunteer Center initiated and coordinated the CiVi project – “Trained Coordinators – Involved Volunteers” (“Coordonatori instruiți – Voluntari implicați”).

CVCN together with other 7 Romanian organizations have decided to merge their efforts and contribute to the efficiency, diversification and raising the quality of the programs they offer. This is how CiVi began, with volunteer centers in Bacău, Baia Mare,  Bistrița, Brașov, Iași, Craiova and with Pro Vobis – National Resource Center for Volunteering.

CiVi started from a series of positive ideas and with a substantial amount of trust in the fact that each volunteer center is valuable in it’s community and this value is worth deepening and expanded.

Our common conclusion is that the volunteer coordinator is the key to a successful volunteer program: if the coordinators are well trained and keep up with the dynamics of their field, the volunteers will be engaged, their needs satisfied and their development process will be supported by the coordinator, and all this contribute to reaching the desired impact in the community.

After analyzing the needs of our respective communities and organizations, we have prioritized our own training needs, and identified the fields of senior volunteering, corporate volunteering and facilitation of volunteer trainings. To increase our capacities, we have organized three learning mobilities:

  • Training on Senior Volunteering” delivered by Önkéntes Központ Alapítvány, Volunteering Hungary – Centre of Social Innovation in Budapesta,  Hungary, between the 13th and 16th of November, 2018, with the participation of 8 representatives from 8 volunteer centers;
  • Corporate Volunteering” delivered by Slovenska Filantropia, Lubliana, Slovenia between the 12th and the 16th of February, 2019, with the participation of 5 representatives of the partner volunteer centers;
  • Train the Trainers” delivered by SchipCon Limassol, in Palermo, Italiy, between the 8th and the 12th of July, 2019, with the participation of 4 representatives of the partner volunteer centers.

The methodology of the leaning activities was based on experiential learning, non-formal education methods, case studies and the sharing of good practice examples. The participants testimonials are proof of the intense, effective learning process:

Remus, Team for Youth, about the Training on Senior Volunteering: ‘‘ They [the seniors] have the capacity to offer real value to the activity through their experience (I reached the conclusion that most senior volunteers are wise people with a clear goal).. they are more empathetic and sensitive to the issues of the beneficiaries, but can also offer real feedback without getting lost in details”.

Corina, Pro Vobis, about the Corporate Volunteering Training:‘‘I had the opportunity in Slovenia to be part of an excellent practical training for the three corporate volunteering events I was about to coordinate. It was a kind of a step by step guide that we followed with the colleagues from the other Romanian volunteer centers. During the 5 training days, I took more than 45 pages of notes and not (only) because this is the way I am – I like to write the new information and settle the learning this way – but also because I recognised my professional interest in about 90% of the training content. This is not something that happens often. The fact that I had this opportunity through an Erasmus+ project only increases the joy of taking part in quality, meaningful projects.”

Gabriel, FSC, about the Training of Trainers:‘‘I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with new educational systems from Norway, Croatia or UK (…) systems focused on the individual not on a group. We will surely apply the methods we learned in training our volunteers.”

These are just a few of the participants thoughts, but gathering all the testimonials, we can conclude that during the 14 months of CiVi, we managed to:

  1. Develop the coordination competencies of 17 members of the volunteer centers teams, when it comes to implementing senior and corporate volunteering and volunteer training in general.
  2. Develop the strategic organizational capacity of the 8 partner volunteer centers in three of the services they offer to the community – promotion, development, training.
  3. Raising awareness in the seven local communities the partners belong to about the value of senior and corporate volunteering.

The results of the project are visible on different levels. The 17 participants in the mobilities are better equipped to involve employees and seniors in volunteering activities. The members of the partnership have benefited from solid organizational development that is also, hopefully, sustainable. The impact of the project has reached the local communities as well: during the 2019 National Volunteer Week edition, the organized events reached tens of adult and senior beneficiaries, developing new practices of quality involvement of this target group.

The CiVi project, „CiVi – Coordonatori instruiți – Voluntari implicați” is co-financed by the European Commission through Erasmus+ program, in the field of adult education.

Contact Tel./Fax: 004-0264-412 897 Program: 09:00-17:00 Cluj-Napoca | Romania