Managers get down on their knees

ON JUNE 13, a rather unfamiliar sight was witnessed by people passing the Lepší Svet centre in Bratislava. General directors and senior managers of well-known companies and institutions, important businesspeople as well as ambassadors, some with garden instruments in hand, some kneeling, were working hard to make the surroundings of the centre a little nicer.

ON JUNE 13, a rather unfamiliar sight was witnessed by people passing the Lepší Svet centre in Bratislava. General directors and senior managers of well-known companies and institutions, important businesspeople as well as ambassadors, some with garden instruments in hand, some kneeling, were working hard to make the surroundings of the centre a little nicer.

The event was part of the Naša (Our) Bratislava project, as part of which almost 1,200 volunteers from 40 companies helped non-profit and community organisations and groups on June 13 and 14. The event was organised by the Pontis Foundation and the Engage Group, in cooperation with Bratislava City Council.

“Three times more volunteers joined the third year of the Naša Bratislava event than in its debut year in 2007, when we started with 400 volunteers,” said Monika Smolová, the coordinator from the Pontis Foundation. “We are very pleased with the success of the event, which without the involved companies would be impossible.”

The event, in which employees voluntarily join and work manually, is an excellent opportunity to boost team spirit in the participating companies and simultaneously allow them to show the public that they are good neighbours and that they care.

This year volunteers cleaned the public Horský Park, the area around Devín Castle, and popular playgrounds; and painted benches and fences, planted flowers or went to nursing homes to talk to pensioners. They were able to choose from a total of 53 social, environmental and other projects at 44 non-profit organisations.

One change compared to last year was a special joint activity prepared for CEOs, ambassadors and top businessmen. They went to the Lepší Svet centre in Petržalka, a non-profit and non-governmental organisation which runs a nursing home and also provides physiotherapy. Here they helped restore its surroundings, painted fences and the interior of the centre, or planted flowers. Apart from representatives of the Slovak arms of IBM, Hewlett Packard, Accenture, Philip Morris, KPMG and other companies, US Chargé d’Affaires Keith Eddins and British Ambassador to Slovakia Michael Roberts and their families provided a helping hand.

Along with manual work, the volunteers provided experience and knowledge. According to the Pontis Foundation, interested personnel from non-profit organisations took the opportunity to receive lectures in communications and marketing, creating presentations or legal advice.

The Pontis Foundation has been devoted to the corporate volunteering programme and the concept Our City for more than three years. After successful events like Naša Bratislava and Naše Košice, this year the same event was also held in Žilina, entitled Naša Žilina.

Similar events enjoy a high popularity in other cities around the world. New York Cares, which has grown from a one-day event into a year-round volunteer service in which tens of thousands of New Yorkers help out, is one of the best known.

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