In our comfortable Library setting on June 21st, 2018, we held our first meeting with 11 young candidates that applied for a Volunteer position at our organization and had a round table discussion about topics and issues that they felt passionate about. This resulted in a collection of material and feedback to work upon, and this was the first step in the creation of our Volunteer Hub that then grew wider during the following months.
Topics such as emotional distress, anxiety disorders, self-harm and problems with low-esteem prompted us to think that the need of an expert, or a professional individual was essential to expand the discussions about these issues in a safe and more mature way, so that the workshops and trainings we were thinking to organize with our young volunteers would be more appreciated and useful.
As we started sorting out real help to address some problematic situations regarding youth, word started spreading, and other volunteers applied and expressed interest in collaborating with us. During the summer we had ten additional volunteer applications, and one among them had also a background and previous experience in conducting workshops that focused on matters that concern the young. With her collaboration, we were then able to organize regular, twice a month meetings with our volunteers.
We touched upon different topics, such as Emotional Intelligence and Self-assessment, Social Emotional Awareness, Relationship Management, Diversity, Leadership, Time Management and Organizational Skills, Self-esteem Techniques and Social Values. We played along with Maslow’s Pyramid of needs and, by dividing the group into teams, we discussed morality, self-esteem, prejudice, relationships, and family issues.
Each workshop was divided in two parts; first there was a bit of explanation of the topic and then we conducted interactive and ice breaking games, where all the members of the group had the opportunity to bond with each other, create relationships, and achieve knowledge regarding certain items of discussion, working out the meaning and the values of each training session.
During these past 6 months we also had activities such as “movie day” and, outside the premises, volunteer “night outs”, which served well in team building our group, giving every member time to feel comfortable with each other and our staff.
Each member of our Volunteer Hub holds unique and special skills that are a real resource and not only to our Foundation. They have assisted us during conferences and other training sessions, done translations and writings stories and blogs, involved themselves with some of our other activities, such our annual ‘toy drive’, as well as other projects, like our Senior Technology (STC) Project. In the latter, they beautifully embraced the concept of creating youth – seniors relations, setting the project alive and giving, since the beginning, a meaning to its main purpose of merging different sets of expertise: modern technology with life experiences.
Now we count 36 volunteers in total from age 16 to 33, all of them with different backgrounds and education, putting their efforts and their time to serve with us on a volunteer basis.
On International Volunteer Day, on December 5th, we managed to finally celebrate them when we addressed and discussed this year theme “Volunteers Build Resilient Communities” that recognizes volunteers worldwide – with a special focus on local community volunteer help.
Plans in this new year of 2019 are for us to continue with a program that will support ideas that our volunteers may have in connection to the 17 goals, as reported in the UN Program called “Volunteer Based Program (VBP)”. They will submit to us proposals or suggestions, which could be in the format of a project or event, to support or raise awareness about one of the above goals, which are: 1. No poverty – 2. Zero hunger – 3. Good health and well-being – 4. Quality Education – 5. Gender equality – 6. Clean water and sanitation – 7. Affordable and clean energy -8. Decent work and economic growth – 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – 10. Reduced Inequalities – 11. Sustainable cities and communities – 12. Responsible consumption and production – 13. Climate action – 14. Life below water – 15. Life on land – 16. Peace, Justice and strong Institutions – 17. Partnerships for the goals.
After the year-end holidays, we are now eagerly looking forward to re-starting work with our group of volunteers, which will open new horizons and a purpose for our organization to keep, sustain, and maintain our progress toward a brighter future.
Author: Jona Siliqi – Volunteer Hub Coordinator