Volunteering Hungary’s Dedication to Building Community Connections

Apr 24, 2024

Global Volunteer Month is a celebration of the incredible impact volunteers have on communities worldwide. Points of Light is proud to spotlight Volunteering Hungary (Önkéntes Központ Alapítvány), a Global Network Affiliate building a brighter future by connecting volunteers with meaningful opportunities in Hungary.

Volunteering Hungary understands that a thriving society is built on connection and cooperation. They believe in connecting volunteers, nonprofit organizations and businesses to foster collaboration, meet community needs and create lasting change.

We spoke with Borbála Hadrévy, a project manager at Volunteering Hungary, to learn more about how they work with their communities, especially seniors, and recognize their volunteers.

Tell us about a project or initiative you’re working on that’s making a big impact on your community.

Our Friends of the Elderly program aims to help those living alone in society. Our volunteers visit seniors as friends — chatting, walking, playing games, listening to their stories or even shopping together. Volunteers are often their only link to the outside world. We also organize outside activities for seniors, to get them out of their home, at least for a little while. Every year we organize a Christmas lunch featuring performers, but they have also taken part in Women’s Day greetings, kids’ gymnastics, a ballet and folkdance show, a petting zoo program, an Easter party and a sightseeing cruise.

We supported 60 seniors in Budapest, with 139 new applying volunteers, 50 active visiting volunteers, three training events for volunteers and four fun programs in 2023.

“I always look at the faces of the elderly. It is wonderful how the loneliness disappears, and we can see their true faces.” — Gréti Kázmér (leader of Friends of the Elderly program, Volunteering Hungary)

Do you have an upcoming special event or milestone that your organization is celebrating? Tell us about it!

We had our Friends of the Elderly carnival in February 2024, which saw 50 seniors, volunteers and 50 children from different kindergartens. The carnival includes crafts with children, a costume show and children’s show for seniors, eating special carnival delicacies together.

Are you working with Points of Light Global Network affiliates on a community project? Share the details.

We work with the Pro Bono Lab in France on the APTE Erasmus+ project: A Pathway To Employment. For this initiative, we work with unemployed young people as well as people over 45 to make them aware of their skills and improve their employability in sectors of the future, through an innovative and unique pathway.

We also work with the Regionalne Centrum Wolontariatu in Poland on the EST Erasmus+ project: European Seniors Together. The project aims to develop a precise method for senior experts to mentor young people who need help in their professional or personal lives.

In the past we’ve worked with Pro Vobis in Romania and TimeHeroes in Bulgaria as well.

How are you recognizing and thanking volunteers for their contributions?

Each year, we give Volunteering Awards in four categories. This ceremony is held to thank them for their outstanding work. We celebrated more than 100 senior volunteers on their volunteer club’s 10th birthday in 2023. Every Christmas we give presents to our volunteers who are active in any of our programs. We are continuously working on finding and providing them with more and more volunteering opportunities.

In addition to volunteering, describe other elements of the Points of Light Civic Circle® that your work involves. How has the Civic Circle become central to your approach?

For the “Vote” element, in 2024 Volunteering Hungary participated in the VVV campaign (Vote Volunteer Vision). The aim is to call the attention of volunteer-involving organizations to discover and develop the European Parliament candidates’ opinions on volunteering for the 2024 European Parliament Election. We also share the idea in secondary schools for those over 18.

We’ve used “Listen & Learn” for trainings in volunteer management, pro bono projects, EST (Europen Seniors Together) European project for mentoring young people by senior experts.

For “Work” we have our “APTE” (A Pathway To Employment) European project for job seekers. For “Donate,” we collect and distribute our corporate partners’ donations. And for “Social Entrepreneur,” we support institutions (shelters, temporary homes for families, children’s homes, schools, etc.) with corporate volunteer programs, mentoring programs for young people in need and sensitization programs between NGOs and corporate sector.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to get more involved in their community through civic engagement?

Try to find a volunteer activity in which you feel comfortable and fulfilled in every way.

Points of Light

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