Joining forces to offer disabled children and their parents a proper holiday

By joining forces, two departments in Arnhem, the Netherlands managed to accomplish a major make-over of three living units at the nearby Bio Vakantieoord (holiday center). At this resort disabled children and their families can enjoy their holidays and play safely. The complex has nine fully adapted bungalows with several living units. For their annual community team activity, the Sourcing Department had chosen to help with some badly needed renovation work in three living units. However, the job appeared to be too big for the 20 volunteers to finish in one day and they consulted the Community Program Staff to see if other colleagues from the Arnhem office could join them.

The team was lucky to have the HSE Department approaching the CP Staff two weeks later with the request for ‘a real DIY-job’ for a team of 15 volunteers. The match was quickly made. One detail had to be solved as the HSE team had planned their contribution to take place in September, while preparations by Sourcing for the Bio Vakantieoord had already been completed for the activities to take place at the end of June. No problem for the flexible colleagues from HSE – they all agreed to join their colleagues from Sourcing as the project much appealed to them.

Since the job involved the complete renovation of the premises, a lot of preparatory work like cleaning and sanding was done by the regular volunteers of the foundation. Our ‘hidden hero’, Theo Janssen from Decorative Paints had given advice about the paint system and was also involved in the logistics to get the paint as well as the painting equipment from different sources on location in time. The thorough preparations made it possible that the two departments could start with the carpentry, sanding and painting jobs right away. All day long the visitors of the vast terrain in the Arnhem woods heard building sounds but also a lot of laughter as the mixed teams progressed. Especially the mixing of the two departments was highly appreciated as one participant said: ‘It was a great project to work on! The extra advantage for us working in a multinational environment was that we had the opportunity to get to know colleagues from a completely different work area/department. And the funny thing is that today in the canteen I bumped into one of my painter buddies with whom I had a little chat starting with the words: “now, we know each other”. This community event-day gave me a lot of satisfaction to actually be meaningful for others.'

Also the explanations about the foundation’s mission and the various activities that are organized for the disabled children, like therapeutic horseback riding, were a real eye-opener to the volunteers. The joining of forces by the two departments, as well as the expert advice from our Deco colleague Theo, who guided the volunteers during the day, were the key factors to the success at the end of the day when the entire interior of the premises had been redecorated. A real win-win with a long lasting effect on all involved.

Director of Bio Vakantieoord, Frans Wientjes was amazed to see that everything was actually finished in one day: ’Fantastic that 35 people – torn away from their busy life – rolled up their sleeves to help us. For us, this means that these bungalows can be rented very quickly now to our holiday guests.’ At the end of the day he was surprised to also receive new playground equipment for the children: ‘We were already impressed by the commitment of so many working hours. The gifts that we received, the trampoline and the bird's nest swing are a big success! Many many thanks for the unforgettable day. You have certainly showed us what Winning Together means.’

And Winning Together was what this joint contribution for the disabled children and their families meant. All participants can look back on a successful day and will agree with Marcel Braam when he said: ‘When helping others, you are not changing the world, but you are changing your own world as well.’