Amsterdam, February 2014
Amsterdam Cares, part of the foundation Nederland Cares, wants to increase community involvement of young professionals by enabling them to do volunteer work. To this end we offer the possibility of flexible volunteer work that suits everyone’s agenda. What is central is the meeting between young professionals and one of our five target groups: disadvantaged children, the elderly, people with a handicap, the homeless and migrants. Through flexible volunteer work young professionals experience, in an early stage of their career, how satisfactory and useful it is to lend a hand to people that are in a vulnerable position. By activating the social engagement of the generation that is determinative for the future of the Netherlands and bringing them into contact with those that are vulnerable in society, we advance social cohesion.
Social cohesion indicates the coherence of a society. One of the core questions in sociology is what holds a society together? There are many possible answers, at both a micro level between individuals, as well as at a macro level between larger entities. If I, as city manager, would provide an answer, the concept of compassion seems appropriate. During our activities the meeting is always central because of its impact: through the contact with someone from a different walk of life both parties are enriched. I think this enrichment is possible by having compassion for the other person.
By working together with social institutions in the city, Amsterdam Cares organises approximately 50 volunteer activities per week via an online calendar. Next to this we also organize customized team activities for companies to give effect to the policy of corporate social responsibility. Through our concept we have realised more that 18.000 volunteer hours in 2013.
During these volunteer hours there has been such a great display of compassion! By our volunteers, who enthusiastically commit themselves to another in their spare time, offering helping hands. By people from our different target groups, such as the elderly who are rejuvenated by a pleasant afternoon in the presence of a new, kind face. Migrants who are happy with the personal attention during the Dutch lessons and children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods that are thankful for the assistance with homework. We have seen compassion in the social institutions where the staff commit themselves heart and soul to their work, to the people that they help. They display their gratitude for the assistance and commitment of our flexible volunteers. And companies show their compassion by increasing and strengthening their corporate community involvement. They feel the need and responsibility to give back to society and collectively lend a hand to another.
So in our job as city manager, we daily encounter compassion. By realizing volunteer projects we together contribute to enhancing the cities beauty. We enjoy realizing the lovely meetings between people that otherwise would not have met each other in their daily life. This is, besides very special also a lot of fun. Therefore, we too do our job with much compassion! We feel honoured to have received the Flag of Compassion from Mr Bob van der Mast, board member of the Unda Foundation. Besides a special instrument, the Flag is also a symbol of great appreciation of our work. We are pleased to hereby join the many beautiful stories and expression of compassion and will keep connecting and inspiring!
Marlene van Reiden
city manager Amsterdam Cares
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Marlene van der Reiden: Amsterdam Cares