Goodacity – Dare to be Good

volunteering in Ukraine

“By helping others, you help yourself too! We decided to put this principle into practice by combining the teenagers mentoring program with helping the elderly,” says Alyona Khmilyar, a well-known volunteer from Brody.

“It gave life to this unique project called Connection of Generations. Helping the elderly with us, teenagers learn what volunteering in Ukraine is, grow their empathy, discover new horizons, and feel important. The aim of it is doing good things together, taking our warmth and kindness to those who need it most of all.”

volunteering in Ukraine

Mentoring is giving children a "fishing rod", not "fish"

“I dreamed of helping people since I was a child!” Alyona says. “So I cannot say that volunteering is something that was spontaneous in my case. This is an organic process for me, an integral part of my life… I am an English teacher by profession, I love my work, but volunteering is my vocation, it comes from my heart and it is essential for it! Volunteering in Ukraine is a unique phenomenon. And for me personally, volunteering gives me wings! I am highly motivated by the volunteers in Ukraine and their desire to bring change and realize their full potential.”

“My volunteer activities began in 2014. As a group of Brody activists, we created the Our Town public organization and started changing our town for the better! We cleaned public squares and parks, held charity fairs and events, literary evenings, sports competitions, and collected funds for the people from our community who needed urgent help and treatment. More and more people joined us after each event!”

“And over a year ago in December 2021, we started implementing the Corporate Mentoring project from the Lviv Diya charity foundation, which worked with teenagers from families in difficult life circumstances. The classes were career-oriented, we helped almost two dozen of our pupils discover their talents and demonstrate them.

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We put the teenagers on the track towards some professions. We held the so-called career orientation tours to bakeries and libraries; we made soap and candles, and our girls went to learn how to do make-up and manicure… We invited people from the various businesses to tell our wards their success stories and inspire them; a psychologist and an English teacher also worked with the children. It was fascinating, inspiring, and educational! Mentoring is about giving children not just a fish on a plate, but the fishing rod to catch it; it is about teaching them to work, and also help others, take care of them.”

“It is such a joy for us when our pupils achieve success and make their dreams come true! For example, we have bought a guitar for one of our students and paid for her vocal lessons. She is currently preparing to enter the theological academy to qualify as a cantor and make singing her profession. And it is impossible to not be happy with the success of a boy from a large family who became interested in growing microgreens and started his own mini business! At first, we were all doing it together, but it was Vitalik who decided to put the matter on the professional track, so to speak. He was growing microgreens, looking after it, looking for the markets, selling products and giving 10 percent of money to the Armed Forces’ needs. Currently, he is abroad and keeps his business open there thanks to us. I was extremely pleased when he called me all the way from the US to give  thanks for everything that our project gave him! Children should be motivated and inspired!”

volunteering in Ukraine

Volunteering for teenagers is a lesson in empathy

“The war broke out, and we started looking for new activities and formats for our work. We recruited a new group of corporate mentoring based on a newly formed charity organization, which I have been heading for more than a year,” the woman says. “It all started when a benefactor from Germany sent us a donation for the corporate mentoring program, and asked to help his lonely grandmother in Brody, Ukraine, in return. We visited her, brought her groceries, talked to her, and later it evolved into the project of helping the elderly. That is how I found myself the head of the organization that takes care of lonely elderly people in the Brody region.”

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“The teenagers we work with in the corporate mentoring program are studying and receiving help, and they are helping the elderly at the same time. They help us purchase and package groceries to deliver them. It turned out to be a very interesting and inspiring collaboration — Connection of Generations, as we call it.

Communication with the elderly gives young people both lessons of life wisdom, and lessons of humanity and empathy. And older people are glad to have  some attention and communication, an opportunity to share their experience, to feel that they are not alone and not forgotten much more over the help and groceries.”

“We only had three elderly people under our care when we started, and now there are as many as 105 of them! These people are mostly lonely, and their life circumstances are really difficult. Together with the children, we really wanted to please the elderly with vitamin sweets, to support their immune system in the cold season! But all the money is spent on purchasing basic necessities for them. Therefore, when we saw the information about the microgrant from Goodacity, we realized that this was our chance! We bought fruit, fresh and dried, with the funds from the microgrant. Many of our friends and acquaintances also volunteered to support this initiative, and the entrepreneurs we bought the sweets from gave us discounts when they learned who would receive it. I am so glad that we managed to deliver those vitamin packages to all of our wards! We added packaged herbal teas, which our student Arsen collected and dried himself in the summer in addition to the fruit. We are grateful to Goodacity for the help and opportunity to feel these incredible emotions. The elderly’s sincere gratitude and their tears of joy will live in children’s hearts and memories!”

“I believe that we make not only the world, but also ourselves, better by volunteering,” Alyona says. “Should you try volunteering? Yes, definitely! If you are considering becoming a volunteer and have doubts—believe me, it is worth it! Volunteering in Ukraine is an astounding experience that gives you a chance to be inspired, fulfilled, and feel useful. It’s just an unforgettable feeling when you know that you are contributing to this world, our youth, and our country!”