Brother Christmas, a man who does delightful everyday deeds all year round dressed up in a grey beanie and a santa’s beard, was chosen as the volunteer of the year last year. The person behind the smiling character is an ordinary dad, Ari, from Tuusula. He embodies what is relevant with Finnish volunteers generally; the ability to feel compassion towards the needy and the want to concretely help without emphasizing their own persona.
What also connects the volunteers is that they have put words into action and focused their energy on supporting those who do not do as well, instead of just bemoaning. These amazing volunteers have realized what is most important: that everyone can help in their own way. For some, helping financially or emotionally fits better with their own situation in life, others can offer their help regularly with everyday chores.
There are many ways: you can go do something recreational with a child of a single parent, take a lonely acquaintance with you to the theater or a concert, or shop the groceries of a handicapped or elderly person without a car when you buy your own.
Compassion and willingness to help should not be taken for granted, but treasured, otherwise they are in danger of getting trampled by hardened values and reserved attitudes. The idolization of financial success and ambitious career development often pops up publicly in speeches considering success. On the sunny side of the street it is easy to say that success only depends on yourself or that everyone has the same possibilities to succeed when you try hard enough. It easily goes unnoticed that life has both ups and downs or that we all surely know people who have been left with nothing and in a moment of distress need someone to be there and lend an ear.
People who volunteer can’t always put in words why they originally started volunteering. They think realistically that they can’t save the whole world, but they can at least take care of people who live close to them. Best of all, many have discovered that helping other people is nice and it brings joy both to the one helping and the one getting help. In addition, helping keeps you lively and prevents you from turning inward in a negative way. Many volunteers go to people to places where there may not be public services. Volunteering deserves the respect of all of us as well as the volunteers – the true messengers of good deeds of everyday life.
Text: Satu Taavitsainen
MP of Social Democratic Parliamentary Group, Transport and Communications Committee, Defence Committee, Social Affairs and Health Committee (deputy member)
Translation: Anna Laine
Citizen Arena (Kansalaisareena) started municipal elections spring by offering ”Eduskunnan vapaaehtoistoiminnan tukiryhmän” Thank you, you are important -challenge campaign participants the opportunity to write to VerkkoAreena/Nätarenan/Webarena about peer support, volunteer work or civic action in their community.