This is how volunteers changed Slovakia during the Our City event
Last weekend, 10 – 11 June, 28 cities and municipalities in Slovakia got the help of 9,500 volunteers. What did they do?
We’ve successfully finished the largest company volunteering event, Our City. During the two days of the last weekend, the volunteers painted fences or benches, cleaned parks and gardens, planted flowers and plants or accompanied the elderly. This took place not only in larger district cities, but also in smaller municipalities. Every year, the majority of volunteers come from companies, 5,100 in total this year. 106 companies took part in Our City 2016 and let their employees have their say in what the city in which they work and live looks like. “We aim not only to beautify the places we live and work in, but also to inspire people to take the responsibility for their surroundings, to inspire them to contribute to the positive changes and to show them that volunteering may bring them inner satisfaction,” explains Monika Smolová, the CPO of Pontis Foundation. The activities, 516 in total, were suggested by 231 non-profit organisations, schools, kindergartens, cities, municipalities and neighbourhoods all around Slovakia. The volunteering activities took place in Bratislava, Košice, Žilina, Partizánske, Sereď, Spišská Nová Ves, Trnava, Nitra, Šaľa, Poprad, Svätý Jur, Pezinok, Senec, Banská Bystrica, Galanta, Trenčín, Nové Zámky, Hurbanovo, Prievidza, Stupava, Zvolen, Veľké Kapušany, Modra, Levice, Nováky, Zlaté Moravce, Veľký Meder and Prešov.
Dell has been a regular participant in Our City for several years. It views the volunteering event as a form of teambuilding. “This year we’ve had the most volunteers within the company taking part in Our City since we first participated. Classic volunteering like Our City was supported with great enthusiasm by hundreds of our employees who helped our cities within 48 different activities,” stated Dell’s Mária Eglová, who also added that “the employees also took part in the Pro Bono Marathon where they helped SGI with its HR strategy and organized two workshops for non-profits focused on project management and presentation skills.
The most volunteers worked in Bratislava
Bratislava welcomed 5,000 volunteers during Our City. The volunteers cleaned 88 parks, gardens, public spaces, educational paths, sports areas and cycling paths, painted 2,973 metres of fences, railings and walls. After Our City, you won’t see any wretched walls in Bratislava’s Mierová kolónia (Peace Colony). As a part of Gaudí’s Workshop, the volunteers took the challenge presented by the 200-metre concrete wall in one of the entry points of Mierová kolónia from Rožňavská street. The volunteers used their originality and created a large-scale mosaic made of wall tiles. This activity was inspired partly by Guello’s Park in Barcelona. The volunteers also helped at the primary school in Karloveská street, which is now thankful for a new eco-classroom for the pupils in the school’s garden. As a yearly tradition, the banks of the Little Danube were cleaned by volunteers in small boats to remove the rubbish brought by the river from the capital. One of the largest activities took place in Dúbravka at A. Dubček Primary School in Majerníková street. Over 160 volunteers painted the cloakrooms, the fences around the school, cleaned the cover of the waste treatment facility and filled two high-capacity containers with the waste from it. With the school’s pupils and teachers, they removed graffiti and repainted the small shed next to the playground with beautiful fairy-tale motifs.
The volunteers also cleaned the Devín Castle from unwanted shrubs, stone rubble and waste. They also removed the weeds from the walkways and carried stones to a drop-off site at the castle. They also painted the wooden facilities on the premises.
Thanks to the volunteers, Nitra now has a herb garden
Volunteers in Nitra revitalised the natural playground in Hidepark and created an educational path in the park’s community garden. They also managed to build an eco-henhouse and create a natural pond. Besides that, they also created a herb garden and cultivated the school grounds at the Special School for Physically Impaired Pupils.
Volunteers in Nitra also spent their time with the special school’s pupils. They took the children for a walk in the city park, visited the local mini-zoo “zveropark” and took a walk around the lake Hangocka. In the region of Nitra, the cities Nitra, Šaľa, Nové Zámky and Hurbanovo participated in the project. The largest number of activities took place in Nitra. In Šaľa, the volunteers cleaned and beautified the banks of the River Váh. The volunteers also found their way to the medieval castle of Hrušov, situated between Topoľčianky and Skýcov, and had their share in the efforts to save it. In total, almost 200 volunteers helped in Nitra.
700 volunteers in Košice
The volunteers of Košice spent time with the elderly, helped repair school and kindergarten playgrounds, and painted the fences and indoor spaces of schools. Over 700 volunteers decided to make themselves available for the good cause in Košice. The Town Hall of Košice suggested its own activity, during which the volunteering city employees exchanged their office chairs for paint and brushes. During Our City, they improved the 5-km-long Mlynský náhon (Mill Channel) by painting it. The Košice branch of Liga proti rakovine (The League Against Cancer) also welcomed volunteers, who made the daily centre for patients with oncological diseases more beautiful. The volunteers cleaned the windows, tidied the interior of the centre, cultivated the garden, planted flowers and mowed the lawn. From the cities in Eastern Slovakia, Košice, Prešov, Poprad, and Spišská Nová Ves took part.
Žilina has participated in Our City for the eighth time
The volunteers of Žilina spent time with the elderly, helped repair school and kindergarten playgrounds, and painted the fences and indoor spaces of schools. They helped with saving the Lietava and Hričov castles. The city of Žilina, which has been regularly participating in Our City since 2009, had the third highest number of activities in this year’s Our City. The volunteers helped make the Varšavská Street Grammar School better again for the fifth time. This time, they painted the walls on the first floor. Thanks to the volunteers, the children of Mojšova Lúčka near Žilina now have a beautiful and colourful playground again. They also painted the benches of the centre for the elderly in Karpatská street with the help of the centre’s clients. The highest number of volunteers was helping at the Lietava Castle. Under the supervision of a professional coordinator, 109 volunteers grouted the authentic historic walls, cleaned the glade or sorted the stones.
The most volunteers in Trnava worked in a baseball club
As part of the Our City project volunteers cleaned the site of the Angels Trnava Baseball Club, the biggest baseball club in Slovakia. They cleared it of litter, which they then separated and transported to a waste recycling centre. They helped make a wall of concrete, mason benches, paint posts and install mesh. Besides this, volunteers also cleaned the locality of Štrky and the site of the Trnava Maternity Centre, where they renovated safety railing along the local brook Trnávka. In addition, they beautified and livened up the site of Jirásková Kindergarten, preparing for the summer time when children spend their free time outdoors. They also raked the lawn and painted the railing on the terraces of the building.
In Slatinka volunteers cut self-seeding bushes and took care of woody plants
This year Our City involved two new towns – Banská Bystrica and Zvolen. In Zvolen volunteers helped to improve a playground. A very nice activity was also chosen in Slatinka. “We helped with building gravel paths, cutting self-seeding bushes and taking care of selected woody plants. Despite the fact we joined the project only this year, we can say we will definitely continue in the Our City project also in the future. We received feedback from our colleagues that our participation was another step forward in building relationships, teamwork, and, last but not least, corporate values,” said Iveta Blašková, HR partner, Continental Automotive Systems Slovakia.
What did volunteers succeed in doing during the Our City project?
- 1166 parks, gardens, educational trails, public areas, sports grounds, and cyclist paths cleaned
- 11 statues, sights, chapels, fountains, and amphitheatres cleaned
- 5 rivers, banks, brooks, wells, and ponds cleaned
- 11 castle or monastery ruins beautified or repaired
- 6,773 metres of fence and railing painted
- 353 clients of social facilities spent a day with volunteers
- 567 benches, tables, bins, and jungle gyms painted
- 1,174 decorative plants, trees, shrubs and flowers planted
- 16 creative workshops on how to manufacture puppets, backdrops, gift items and sports-educational competitions
- 2 translations of annual reports or web materials, help with an information campaign, administrative support
- 76 spaces, interiors, and buildings beautified, repaired, and redecorated