The Voluntary Initiative 2016 Awards were announced at a public ceremony with the presence of tens of volunteers and guests at the Ceremonial Hall at the Central Military Club on 1 December.
Maria Petkova from Tulip Foundation opened the ceremony and spoke about the significance of the volunteers and their effort, positioning volunteering as the ultimate exercise of democracy. She also spoke of the thousands of volunteers in Bulgaria who, every day and every week give their efforts, time, will and skills to show in practice what and how improvements in life and society can be made so that we all are able to live together well.
The President of the republic of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, congratulated the volunteers in Bulgaria with the words “I am one of you; I am with you with my heart, with my thoughts and actions. What else if not doing good makes sense? Even more when it is difficult and hard.” He spoke also about the power of volunteering and the importance of involving more and more people in it. “You are a model, you come from around the country and every one of you is an example with the good you do, the hand you give, the sense you bring and the active position you have. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, I am with you!”
During the most moving part of the ceremony, the members of the Jury announced the awards. Aneta Milkova, member of the Board of the Bulgarian National Television, Alexey Lazarov, Chief Editor of Capital newspaper and Ognian Zlatev, Head of Representative Office of European Commission in Bulgaria selected the best initiatives on the basis of their results. They were measured on their importance to the local community, the number and the involvement of the participants, the impact of the initiative for the development of the capacity of the volunteers and the team of the organisation, and the projects’ the financial effectiveness.
Ognian Zlatev started by saying that “it is very important that in these days of global turbulences we do not forget the human nature inside ourselves. That is what makes volunteers do what they do.” He invited the volunteers in the initiative “The voice of the children” and the team of Future for Children Association to receive the award. Maria Gineva, director of the Future for Children Association, and a group of their students told the audience about their activities aimed at stimulating active citizenship and social responsibility among young people, and preservation of the nature in Kazanluk.
Alexey Lazarov said that “this next award goes to an organisation that works in a sphere that is highly popular in recent times – refugees. The political populism allowed that prejudices overcome the human nature. The awarded organisation does exactly the opposite. The volunteers help refugees to get oriented in our city, help them in everyday life, in contacts with institutions, in coping at a difficult moment in their lives.” Emanuil Patashev and a group of volunteers Mentors – Friends from Caritas Sofia spoke about their work for integration of refugees through regular meetings and talks.
Aneta Milkova presented the initiative “When we become 10,000 we are going to plan a forest!” of Foundation 77. “You deserve our appreciation because you take your time to help others” she turned to the volunteers in Bulgaria. “And this initiative is special as there are numerous children and young people involved in it – some 10,000 children from kindergartens and schools have planted more than 20,000 trees. This is such wonderful opportunity for them to learn to be good people.” Nikola Rahnev explained in more detail how the tree-planting campaign functioned, and how the work is done mostly by volunteers, many of whom are young people.
At the end of the ceremony the attending volunteers and guests praised all volunteers in Bulgaria with a long lasting period of applause.
In total 51 initiatives of volunteers realised in towns and villages were competing for the Volunteer Initiative 2016 awards. The competition was announced by Tulip Foundation and the National Alliance for Voluntary Action for a sixth successive year and was open for organisations and groups that have organised voluntary initiatives during the year – regardless of the place and period of the project, the aim and organisation of the actions, the sources of funding, number and age of the volunteers participating.