Volunteering as a way of life: who are the silver age volunteers

April 26
Social sector

They help at city events, competitions, exhibitions and festivals, pass on invaluable experience to the younger generation, manage to go in for sport and write about their activities in social networks. All this is about silver age volunteers, the so-called volunteers over 55 years old.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 180 silver age volunteers have participated in 12 sports, cultural, educational and memorial events. They helped at the action on the Defender of the Fatherland day, together with young colleagues put in order the burial places of the participants of the Great Patriotic War, supported the doctors of the mobile medical teams who performed vaccination. Three aged volunteers told mos.ru why they decided to devote themselves to volunteering.

Olga Kuzina: Volunteering has become my way of life

Olga Kuzina is a veteran of the volunteer movement, she started volunteering in 1980 during the Moscow Olympic Games. However, by her own admission, good deeds have accompanied her since childhood: Olga Ivanovna grew up in a family with three adopted children. 

Olga Kuzina's volunteer portfolio includes two Olympic Games, the XII and XIX World Youth and Student Festivals, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 in Moscow, the Immortal Regiment, ,Startup Village, Zaryadye Park opening, and many other events. At the same time, she manages to work, go skiing, yoga and swimming, do her own projects and share her experience with other volunteers.

- I grew up in a family where, in addition to my sister and me, there were three other adopted children, my parents adopted full orphans. Therefore, we have absorbed the atmosphere of kindness and mutual assistance since childhood. We always kept together, helped each other not only in school. Even as children, we always picked up cats, dogs, birds on the street - everyone who needed help. On top of that, in Soviet times there were pioneers and the Komsomol who were also engaged in social work, in fact, volunteering, only then it was not called like now.

I have probably always been a volunteer, but officially my volunteer experience began with the Olympic Games-80. They needed interpreters, and since I was fluent in English, I was happily to be taken. There was a lot of work: I conducted excursions, worked with delegations, helped with various organizational issues. It was an amazing experience for us, the host and our guests. Foreigners were very interested in learning about the USSR because they knew very little about our country, they literally showered me with questions.

Another significant event is the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1985, where I worked as an interpreter, and, of course, the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. I wanted to be an interpreter, but after the interview I was appointed as an assistant to the National Olympic Committee, and I was given a car. I was both an interpreter and a driver, and I helped with various organizational issues.

Shortly before the Olympics, I broke my arm at a biathlon competition and did not know if I could help, I was worried. But the doctor allowed it. I arrived at the volunteer village at about two o’clock in the morning, and at four I had to get up. It was hard, but I liked it. There was no time to watch the competition, only if they were invited together with the delegation. However, I got to the closing ceremony. These are unforgettable emotions.

The XIX World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi also made a huge impression on me. There were guests from different countries including India and Sri Lanka. Many of them did not have time to register. On principle, no one should accommodate them, but I managed to get them settled. They just didn't understand why I was spending so much effort on them, why I was helping them, and they called me ‘our Russian mother’. Then I heard so many kind words, and one of the members of the delegation even cried, they were so grateful for the help. As a result, I was awarded a medal and a diploma of the President of Russia for my personal contribution to the festival.

Since 2014, volunteering has become my way of life, although I continue to work as a public adviser to the Babushkinsky district council in Moscow. In recent years, I have participated in almost all city events and actions. During the pandemic, of course, there was a break, but I still helped. I brought food to those who could not go out. I take all precautions: masks, gloves, social distance. I also drink tea with ginger and cinnamon, eat fish, take vitamins D and C, all this helps to strengthen the immune system. I am also a volunteer of the Vaccination Assistants campaign in GUM (state department store). I help those who come to get vaccinated.

In addition, I deal with my own initiatives, and I became the winner of the contest of important social project ‘Legacy of 2018 FIFA World Cup Volunteer Program’. My project was aimed at the socialization of children without parental care. I was able to invite coaches and football players from the Moscow branch of football club Barcelona, they played with the children and, trained them. Another important project for me is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. My daughter and I were compiling a genealogy and family history, and became the best in the city. The project was called The History of the People's Family.

I feel great pleasure in being able to help and I am doing it. In my opinion, it makes the person’s life longer. Another secret of my activity is sports, without it - nowhere.

Alexander Podstrizhen: Volunteering provided me with an active pension

Alexander Podstrizhen got acquainted with volunteer activities in 2018 when he participated in the Keepers of Zaryadye action. Today, he has not only dozens of major events under his belt, but also educational programs Moscow School of the Silver Age Volunteer, English language courses and the All-Russian Forum of silver age volunteers.

- I help in the Victory Museum, I am a Victory Volunteer, a silver age volunteer, and I am also a member of the organization Live and Breathe Sport. Of course, there was a big break due to the pandemic, but now everything has become more active again. I did not get sick, I try to take care of myself: I always have an antiseptic with me, I always wear gloves and a mask, after events I wash my clothes and steam them, I drink vitamins. I recently participated in the We are Together campaign and rendered an assistance in vaccination.

In 2018, I came across a note that volunteers are required for the World Football Cup but, unfortunately, I did not have time to submit a request, the recruitment was already completed. I devoted myself to other major events, such as the Spasskaya Tower Festival, Victory parades, and various festivals. I am a participant of two forums of silver age volunteers in Moscow and in Ufa. These are the most interesting events for me: volunteers of my age from different cities share their experiences and impressions. Now I have friends from all over the country: from Khabarovsk to Kaliningrad.

I always considered myself an introvert, and when I started volunteering I realized that I could also be an extrovert: I give people my knowledge, energy, and kindness. This is interesting, and above all, new acquaintances are constantly emerging. Your legs get tired sometimes, but you get a huge emotional charge. I feel I'm doing something useful, and I'm not ‘drying up’ sitting at home in front of the TV. I sometimes compare the life of my parents in older age and my own.

What did they have? TV, market, shop, rare visits of theater or cinema. I have a completely different, active pension. I am in all social networks, I try to write there about my activities. And in my photo archive there are more than 1500 photos, this is very important for me: the emotions received at events pass over time and when you look at the photos the memories come back.

For me, it is important to keep pace with modern technologies because without them now - nowhere. As I said before, I am registered in social networks, I mastered the computer on my own according to self-help guide. The technical mindset helps me a lot (I graduated from the institute with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, then worked in construction and was engaged in the repair of power tools). Physically, I also try to keep fit. I go in for Nordic walking. As Aristotle said, movement is life.

Natalia Fedorova: Volunteering gives a new purpose of life

Natalia Fedorova has been actively engaged in volunteering for five years and has repeatedly become a prize-winner of the Volunteer of Moscow contest. She participated in such major events as the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students,Intermuseum-2017 and others. But most of all, Natalia Grigorievna pays attention to the patriotic trend.

- All my life I have been an active person and engaged in social activities. And when I left work, I decided to devote myself to volunteering, so as not to sit on a bench at the entrance and not feel deprived of life. I had the strength and desire to help people, and I thought - why not.

The turning point for me was the preparation for the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory. This event gave me the idea that I should connect my life with patriotic activities. Later, I participated in the Immortal Regiment action, and in the Memory Line (we support the flame of candles on the Crimean Bridge on the Day of Remembrance and Mourning).

In 2017, during the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students, I worked at the Museum of Moscow.  Participants of the previous festivals of youth and students held in Moscow brought us memorabilia, and we made an exhibition. Thanks to this work, I met a lot of interesting people. After the festival, I still have a lot of friends including from the regions. We still meet with those who come to Moscow. And we ourselves go to other cities, recently we were, for example, in St. Petersburg.

Thanks to their extensive experience, the silver age volunteers can cope almost any situation. We want to help people because we have a desire, health and time. I really like the social circle because volunteers come from a variety of fields - among them are doctors, teachers. It's nice to communicate with young people. They probably feel that you are young at heart, so they come up, are interested, ask for advice.

Now I am a regular volunteer at the Victory Museum. Of course, the year 2020 knocked us sideways, the museum has not worked for a long time but now everything is returning to normal. The Immortal Regiment is a sacred event for volunteers, but last year the campaign was held only in an online format. But I still participated: I sent photos of my relatives and those who asked for help because not everyone knows how to use new technologies.

I also participate in contests, for example, in the Volunteer of Moscow. In 2020, I decided to make a social project Eternal Memory. It was dedicated to commemoration of the veterans of our district Khoroshevo-Mnevniki.

I've got a lot of friends and acquaintances, all thanks to volunteering. We not only often meet at city events but also go to museums, theaters, and visit each other. Sometimes we even gather in our own circle and go on an excursion. We have a chat ‘Girls’ involving about 20 people, if someone finds out information about interesting events - sends it there. I also go in for Nordic walking and love to dance.

I am interested to talk to veterans and people in general and write about them. In the social network, I have my own page where I write posts after each event. This is a kind of informing the older generation. Maybe they're on pension and don't know what to do. Someone may be take an interest in this and join our movement.

Over the years, you lose old friends, workmates, children have grown up, and grandchildren too. And there are still a lot of forces, there is free time and a huge experience that you want to share. Volunteering brings you a sense of self-worth, satisfaction, and a new purpose of life.

Source: mos.ru

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