The project One for All, All for the Community was one of the first projects for our organization YMCA Revúca, which was dedicated to activities for volunteers and was focused on their development and support.
YMCA Revúca has been working for several years with a group of volunteers who come from the Roma community in Jelšava. Their position in the community is not easy. They often encounter misunderstanding on the part of the family, rejection and slander by the community of which they are a member.
The aim of our project was to support a group of already active volunteers from Jelšava, who participate in the implementation of activities in the Low-Threshold Center Jordan in Jelšava. Volunteers perceived the importance of invested energy and assistance in the center’s activities, but it was difficult for them to see that their efforts and assistance could have an impact in the wider context and could be relevant and responsive not only in the community but also within the city.
Thanks to systematic and individually focused mentoring, the volunteers felt constant support, which gave them the courage to participate in activities whose other participants were important authorities of the city of Jelšava. One of these activities was the Discussion Forum. Volunteers discussed selected topics with important personalities and authorities of the town of Jelšava. The realization of these discussions helped them to see that their opinion and the help they provide to others are perceived positively and they do not have to be afraid of rejection. Some deputies of the city council and the mayor of Jelšava also accepted the invitation to participate in the discussion forums.
The volunteers themselves were proactive in the field of public order. They decided to clean the playground on the street, which is inhabited mainly by children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The motivation for cleaning the playground was to create a safe place for children to play.
“The discussion forums showed the volunteers that their opinion was important and therefore they were not afraid to communicate their proposal for cleaning the playground to the city representatives. The result of this initiative was the cooperation of local volunteers from the Roma community and representatives of municipal services in an activity aimed at improving the conditions of the Roma community in Jelšava.”
The project One for All, All for the Community was the result of long-term cooperation between the Ministry of Health, YMCA REVÚCA and local volunteers from the Roma community. The goal we succeeded in fulfilling was to give the volunteers the courage to get involved in what is happening in the city and in communication with the authorities and city officials. Show volunteers that their opinion and activity has meaning and weight. Community members, on the other hand, could see that even the activity of one person, or change or help at first glance, perhaps in a small area, is important.
As an organization that cares about the development of volunteers and the creation of a good and supportive volunteer program in general, the project helped us to see the importance and irreplaceability of mentoring in working with volunteers from the Roma community and we could also better see communities we still need to grow.