Giving Back in Russia
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Giving Back in Russia

Our Program Directors and associates in Russia recently participated in a special day of community service—an event that, as Russia's Regional General Manager Natalia Janjic notes, generated plenty of enthusiasm: "Since it was the first time we were participating in this type of event in conjunction with a Program Director training, everybody was really anticipating it."

They visited the Marfino Social Adaptation Center in Lobnya, a suburb of Moscow, which provides transitional housing and services for the poor and disenfranchised—homeless families, orphans, and the elderly among them. Residents receive temporary housing, hot meals, clean clothes, and assistance in getting back on their feet. Programs at the center also help them to navigate the judicial system and find new homes or permanent care housing.

Although the center is state-supported, hands-on help is always needed, and our Program Directors and associates pitched in to help beautify the center's outdoor areas. On a wet and gray day, 30 Program Directors, along with our office associates, sang in the rain as they cleared snow and leaves from the grounds, impressing the home's staff and residents with their liveliness and energy. The crew of our river ships in the region loaned everyone cleaning equipment, rubber boots, and waterproof jackets, whose bright colors cheered the team on the drizzly day, and the chefs who prepare the cuisine on our Russian River Cruise packed lunches for the volunteer group. Plus, our Moscow coach vendor generously donated transportation for the day to the volunteers.

By the time our Russian Program Directors and associates were done cleaning, all of winter's mess was gone, leaving the grounds pristine for springtime outdoor activities. They also helped residents transition to warmer weather by donating a stock of summer shoes to the center. At the end of the day, our volunteers were treated to a short concert from the center's residents, a moment that touched everyone and made the day's hard work feel especially worthwhile. As Natalia says, "That was when every one of us felt clearly how things that may seem minor to us can be huge for somebody else."

Featured in our April 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.