Bringing Christmas joy

There was excitement in the air when fifteen eager volunteers from an airline company gathered to help with Christmas preparations at The Vreugdehof. Starting from scratch, the energetic team decorated the whole space into an accommodation worthy of the residents’ Christmas celebrations. By the end of the night, the team had filled the main hall at the rehabilitation center with festivities, a fully decorated Christmas tree and signed cards for the elderly.  

Who are the helpers?  

The decorating team was made up of devoted members of the airline staff. Cabin crew, as well as ground staff, are involved in the company’s latest initiative to give back to the community. This initiative is handled by a sector specifically devoted to volunteering activities.  

The coordinator from their community investors programme expressed gratitude at being among the first to adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) in The Netherlands. The team’s tasks consist of coordinating different social and volunteering activities across Amsterdam. The initiative also acts as a channel through which the company can devote both time and money to giving back to society.  

He explains that their company specifically focuses on projects that favor teamwork as well as visible impact. “For us, it is important to see what we actually do, while being together as a team. Group activities act to build strength and power between us as a team while allowing us to give something back. Here at the centre for example, many clients don’t have neither friends nor families, and so us being here really makes a difference.”  

Visible impact at the Vreugdehof  

Rian Ridderhof, the project coordinator at the Vreugdehof, was impressed with having such a large group of people pitching in as it made the event more fun and efficient for everyone involved. The hall is one of the most important rooms at the centre. The main scene acts as host to a wide range of activities, including concerts, wheelchair dancing, and afternoon games. 

The airline’s help created time and space for staff at the centre to spend with patients. As Rian put it: “The people that live here are so ill they cannot stay in their own home. Given we are such a small group we want to make sure to give everyone enough time, both individually and in groups.”  

The Vreugdehof is a rehabilitation and nursing centre that specializes in clients with physical handicaps and psychogeriatric conditions, with a majority of patients suffering from dementia. The centre hosts a relatively small group of 280 clients, with ages ranging from 70 up to 100.  

Rian explained that volunteers are central to sustain the activities at the centre. Organizations mostly visit the centre twice a month, while it is common for individuals to join on a weekly basis. Activities range from creative tasks such as painting and singing lessons to physical activities like walking and yoga.  

CSR on the rise  

Linking companies to social organizations isn’t a fully established practice in the Netherlands yet, but it’s gaining more support in recent years. Up until now, individuals, not companies, have contributed the most to social work.  

The helpers from the airline crew are among the early adopters of the CSR trend in the Netherlands. They highlight CSR as a positive trend that keeps evolving on all levels. The company is new to the Netherlands. Their coordinator attributes the focus on the charity they brought with them to their roots in the United States. 

“We especially like that we can see results. We often do other forms of social work, including fundraising for projects but this is very different as we directly interact with the impact we are making.”  

The Vreugdehof emphasized how happy they are to receive more help, with volunteers contributing to new perspectives that liven up the organization. They’re always looking for an extra hand.  

Are you interested in getting involved with the Vreugdehof or another organization for a volunteer project? We encourage you to read more about Adam Helpt and the CSR movement here.