If you open the vacancy database for voluntary work in the Kalejdoskop welfare fund, there are more than 200 vacancies. Rinske Sieswerda, coordinator of Odensehuis in Heerenveen and Aafke Wierenga, volunteer at the Dorcas store in Heerenveen, experience the lack of volunteers every day. Volunteers are invaluable, say Rinske and Aafke, when we meet in Kaleidoscope’s pop-up location in the center of Heerenveen.
Voluntary work at Odensehuset
Rinske Sieswerda explains what Odensehuset is and what the consequences are now that she does not have enough volunteers. “Odensehuset is a walk-in home for people with early dementia and their relatives. We offer visitors a place where not the disease, but people are at the center. We would very much like to increase the number of visitors. In order to reach even more people, I should pay more attention to promoting Odensehuis. This is something that is not possible now, because we have no volunteers.”
Rinske calls: “As a volunteer at Odensehuset, it is nice if you have experience with dementia, but it is not a requirement. You are an emotional person. The most important thing is that you are there for the people. Self-management, respect and freedom of choice for visitors in a safe environment are our priorities. If you come to us as a volunteer, you will receive training, but you will first see if it is something for you. You can use your talents with us. Your duties may include preparing lunch, doing some exercise, painting, playing a musical instrument, or just being there. Or make a life book together. A life book stimulates the visitor’s memory. This would Island Islandcould be a nice task for an intern. As well as supporting in PR, the website, social media and the newsletter. In addition to volunteers, we can also use students.”
Volunteering at the Dorcas store
For Aafke Wierenga, who works in Dorcas, the lack of volunteers is felt every day. “Dorcas is a charity shop. We work for the poorest in the world. There are 42 stores nationwide, of which the profit from the sale of used goods goes to charity. Dorcas strives to be a little more than a thrift store. Just selling some nicer things that we present in an attractive way. It’s just that there isn’t always time to decorate the shop nicely, because we don’t have enough volunteers. The entire store is run by volunteers; we all do it, and every day someone is in charge. Then you divide up the tasks, answer questions or answer the phone.”
Aafke also appeals to volunteers: “As a volunteer in a Dorcas store, there are various activities. The volunteers are very important in the input. The products must be salable, because our store also has to pay waste costs. We also need people to price small items. Then you have to think about cups, pans, bowls. And of course people are needed at the checkout. I really like the job, where you mainly have contact with the customers. And volunteers who understand computers and/or electricity are also very welcome. There is always something to do with us.”
Knowledge meeting Kaleidoscope
Both Rinske and Aafke were present during the Kaleidoscope knowledge meeting. Both found special recognition here. Something that encouraged her to continue on an emotionally lonely quest. Aafke: “It gave me the feeling that you are not alone. That there is consideration.” Rinske recognizes that. “At one point I thought, ‘Why can’t I do this? During the meeting I found out that I’m not alone. We run into the same problems. New insights allow us to look at this differently. I for example, I can also ask people to promote Odensehuset for me. I can use people who feel involved in the disease as ambassadors.”
Aafke has also started to think differently. “We put ourselves more in the volunteer’s place and what the volunteer wants. And you can talk to each other and help each other. There was also someone who knew a volunteer who now works outside Heerenveen, but would prefer to work in Heerenveen. That’s where I got the number’.
What Rinske likes about his work is that something special happens every time. “Something you don’t expect. I call that ‘pearls’. We give people a place where they can be themselves. That’s why I hope we can get more enthusiastic people to support us, because they are there. There are so many nice people.”
Aafke does his voluntary work primarily for the poor.” It gives me a lot of energy. Like the work itself. I like old things and recycling them. And it’s always a bit of fun working behind the cash register. When I work, I feel that what you do matters. Because it is for a good cause, and I think that is very important to me.”
By: Annemarie Overbeek