Bringing back a sparkle of former 'Golden Years' in dilapidated casern

For some people the old derelict casern of Novoye village in Russia may represent pure nostalgia, but for most people the severely neglected building means pure sadness. The casern, located about 40 minutes from the Powder Coatings operations in Orekhovo-Zuevo, dates back to 1904 when it was built as housing for textile workers and their families. In those years the casern was considered to be quite a comfortable housing. In the nineties, when lots of factories and sites went bankrupt all over the country, the textile factory was closed, but the casern still remained the only home for many ex-workers and new tenants. Over the years, the building dilapidated due to the lack of finance and maintenance.

When our colleagues from Powder Coatings had been made aware of the poor situation and living conditions of the elderly people and families with children, they quickly decided to have a closer look. They were shocked to find the extremely neglected conditions, especially the hygienic situation in the cooking area, and did not hesitate to draw up a plan of action for support. After having examined the casern, they discussed the priorities for improvement with the tenants. A presentation for the Community Program was made and support for a major renovation of a shared kitchen on the 3rd floor of the building was granted.

Although it would be a major job, our volunteers were convinced that they would be able to make a real difference to the living conditions of the 7 elderly people and 5 families with 18 children, for whom the kitchen is the only place where they can play and socialize. Coordinator of the project, Anna Vedenina explained: "We encountered rather hard work: high ceilings, thick walls and a horrible condition of the room were the challenges." Together with 20 of her colleagues, they threw away bags of rubbish and old tiles, replaced old windows, cleaned up, evened and painted all the walls and ceilings and cleaned and painted the radiators. When the basic part of the renovation was finished, they placed the tiles the working area, painted the walls with fresh-green finish and installed new wash basins. Some part of renovation required professional support and a skilled AkzoNobel electrician changed the entire wiring and electrical equipment.

When the residents saw the volunteers come back every weekend and also during evenings, they started to participate in the process and just before Christmas the planned renovation could be completed. Although it was hard work, our volunteers were quite happy to be able to make this contribution. "I was enthusiastic to accept the proposal to make other people's lives more comfortable by painting walls and heating elements in a shared kitchen. It's wonderful to benefit society and people while working together with your colleagues," said Ekaterina. Another team member, Alina, added: "I find it great to contribute to the projects our company is supporting to help people in need. It was a great pleasure to be part of this renovation: in the end the kitchen was hardly recognizable and I felt proud of myself and my colleagues. I think we managed to make life for the people living there a little bit happier."

The last days of December were spent to purchase new gas stoves and some furniture. Literally on the last day of the year the complete team arrived at the casern to wish its tenants a Happy New Year. They were received with a lot of warmth and to express their gratitude the residents had prepared a festive meal with fresh bakery specially cooked in their new stoves.
Although the former "Golden Years" could not be brought back to Novoye village, our volunteers have succeeded to bring some happiness to these people's lives. Doubtless to say that we will be hearing from our dedicated volunteers again. Yuri underlined the importance of their involvement: "Participation in these kinds of projects evokes a sense of compassion and it’s good to see that a major company like AkzoNobel provides the resources to help disadvantaged people. The Community Program must go on!"

We rest our case…