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My year as the Volunteer of the Year 2019

When I was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year, along with Inka Setälä, I was surprised, happy, and grateful. Many people had believed in my work as a volunteer in the parish and in the Enter ry association, where I have been able to help older people in different situations. Even the smallest acts can remove obstacles to learning.

I received a lot of messages after arriving home with the flowers from the Enter ry and Citizen Forum. In the evening, I got a beautiful bouquet from my parish. The feeling was amazing, and I was grateful for having been able to do pleasing and versatile work as a volunteer.

I have wonderful memories, for example, of meeting lovely people during the 30 years of volunteering in the parish and over 20 years of teaching constantly changing digital devices and programmes for the older people.

Both work communities have paid attention to the well-being and education of volunteers. Another great thing is that I have made a lot of friends, and peer support has always been available when needed.

The Volunteer of the Year award attracted publicity

After the publication of the award, I received an invitation to a radio interview for Yle Radio Suomi. The interview was carried out in the Kamppi service centre on the morning of 11 December. The interviewer was so amazing journalist that I even forgot to feel nervous. The programme was a live broadcast with music, which made it possible to have brief breaks during the interview. Already during the programme, I received messages from many listeners who had recognised my voice. It was a nice experience!

People at the Enter ry surprised me with a video about the Volunteer of the Year award after the following tutoring session.

A lovely journalist contacted me from the Sana magazine. The Sana piece combined, in a nice way, Enter ry digital tutoring with volunteering in the parish and people I have met there. After the piece, I received many kind messages from people around Finland.

Then came the coronavirus – and with it, a different kind of spring. It had a direct impact on my volunteer work, as my calendar went from full to completely empty.

I was supposed to speak in our parish’s orientation event for new volunteers and encourage them in their new tasks, but the event was cancelled because of the coronavirus restrictions.

Lännen Media newspapers were supposed to write a piece on the impact of coronavirus on the physical activity and well-being of older people. When the journalist called, it came out that I am the Volunteer of the Year, and they also interviewed me about my volunteer work in the Enter ry. A full-spread piece with photos was published in all 13 Lännen Media newspapers. In some papers, I even made it to the front page.

Pieces about my Volunteer of the Year award were also published on the City of Helsinki website and in the Vanhustyö (Work in the Field of Elderly Care) magazine.

The award was a great thing, and the respect and recognition it has brought me have been worth the nervousness and extra work.

Text: Lea Grönlund

This year, Citizen Forum awards the Volunteer of the Year for the seventh time. The Volunteer of the Year 2020 campaign’s voting period began on 1 October and lasts until 31 October. Read more about the campaign on the Citizen Arena website (In Finnish).

Translator: Hanna Väisänen

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