Did you know that good deeds stimulate the release of endorphins? Kindness breeds a sense of fulfillment and gratitude. This is why today we are going to talk about volunteering.
There are many young and talented people in Israel IT. All of them have their hobbies and interests, but Roksolana Vinnytska’s hobby is special, and it deserves your attention. We conducted an interview where Lana, Community Manager at Israel IT, shared an interesting story about her journey into our company and volunteering. We are sure that after this interview, your perception of the world will change.
Tell us about yourself. How long have you been working here and why Israel IT?
I have been working in the company for almost a year. Before that, I studied psychology and always knew that I will use it in my life. My path didn’t stop on that. I dreamt about working in an IT company. This industry was attracting me a lot, as it seemed very interesting and dynamic.
I came across an Israel IT vacancy and decided to give it a try. After the interview, I realized that this job is exactly what I want. For me, there are two important components in any work – the first one is the work itself and the tasks that I perform. The second one is the people with whom I work, my colleagues. When I was a teenager, I read the expression “Do what you love and love what you do”. After that, I realized that my work has to be interesting and useful not just for me, but also for people who surround me.
I was captivated by the people who interviewed me. It was like a conversation between old friends, very easy and comfortable. I am a Community Manager and this position involves constant communication with people. I like it because people that I work with neck-and-neck are bringing me joy and positive emotions. They inspire me to do good with them and for them.
How did you start volunteering and who do you help?
Volunteering is my life. At 13, I became a children’s animator. It all started with day camps and an oratorio in the church. We worked with children and youth from all over the area. My older brother was also an animator and the one who inspired me. From an early age, I admired volunteers because they spent time with people in need unselfishly and for absolutely free. I was actively growing in this direction and after a while became a volunteer and organizer at various events, trainings, and Christian holidays.
When I was in the 11th grade, the war started. This period is forever etched in my memory. Every day I spent my free time in Lviv on the Maidan, helping as much as I could. Later, I began working in one of the boarding schools as a psychologist. My director organized a trip to the East of Ukraine and by the coincidence of fate, I went there too (at that time I thought it was just a coincidence, but later I realized that it was not). That day, at 8 pm, I was sitting in the kitchen and drinking tea with my mother. Then, at around 9 pm, I was already in one of the volunteer cars thinking: “Am I going to the East? To the war epicenter?” I was a sophomore student when I had my first trip to Eastern Ukraine. It was the beginning of my difficult journey in Donbas, which continues to this day. My life has changed dramatically to “before and after”.
I remember we arrived at the front line at night with our headlights off. Our team and soldiers stood in the trenches and sang carols. We heard and saw shootings above our heads. It was the most difficult trip, both – mentally and physically. Despite all the pain, looking into the tear-stained eyes of young men and women of my age, I knew that I will return. I’d return to support those to whom we owe a peaceful sky.
As soon as we arrived home, I immediately began to look for opportunities to return to the East: I joined various public organizations that help children and civilians in frontline cities and villages. Being there and communicating with the locals, I realized that not only the military is waging the war, but also the civilians, who continue to live there every day. They get shot and injured, but they continue to sing the anthem of Ukraine, defending their territories and the Ukrainian language. They help the military guys, risking their own lives.
After several trips, my friend and I decided to create our volunteering organization, so we could travel to the East and help those in need even more. This is how our “Somewhere in the East” comes into life. This organization has changed our lives and the lives of many people who support us and believe in our small mission on Earth. Many people, schools, and organizations joined us. For the first mission trip, we were able to collect six tons of different things for children, families, and the military in the East of Ukraine. We had four different trips within the organization. Each time we travel further and further, reaching more people. We are transferring warmth and love from your houses to those, who keep our sky peaceful.
How do you manage to combine volunteering with work? Do you ever have burnout?
It depends. Before the trip, it is especially hard. In about a month and a half, we begin collecting necessary things in different parts of Lviv, like schools, communities, and organizations. We announce the trip on social media. Many people support us financially, however, we usually ask them to buy something and pack by themselves, so they can feel like St. Nicholas’s assistants (our mission is dedicated to him). It is difficult to go and pack boxes after eight hours of work. But looking at photos from previous trips and seeing happy children, I get emotionally filled and continue to do what I do.
In December, we held a charity event at Israel IT. We asked one of the Lviv organizations to provide us with lists of children from low-income families and families in need. We received letters with children’s wishes, and our specialists fulfilled them by preparing gifts.
As for burnout, sometimes I get sad and doubt whether I am doing everything right because volunteering is not always as easy as it seems. The most difficult thing is when people do not believe that you can do things unselfishly and for free. They doubt you and your values. I realize that the world is quite evil, and many people still do not believe that you can do things without waiting for anything in return. However, such moments also make me stronger, because with selfless actions you can change not only people’s opinions about volunteering but also a part of their souls.
What motivates and inspires you? Give advice to those who want to start volunteering.
I am motivated by happy smiles and tears of joy in the eyes of children and adults. For me, that’s the biggest reward. Love and warmth that grateful people give in return is the most valuable feeling in my life. If you only see the eyes of happy teenagers when they open bags of stationery and sweets; or old people who do not know what to do out of embarrassment and gratitude when you come to their yard with bags of food; the tear-stained eyes of the military in the trenches and hospitals as we sing songs for them. In such moments, you understand that you are doing everything right, and it motivates you.
We are helping not only in the East but also here. Many people thank us for the ability to join us. They help with transportation, packing, and other things. It seems like we should thank them for the help. However, they are grateful to be a part of the great process of creating the “good”. I always say that we reduce the distance between people’s hearts here and there. It does not matter that there is 1500 km between us, because nothing is impossible for love. People from the East are always surprised that Lviv residents remember them and make such valuable gifts. With such actions, we confirm that East and West are together. And also that Ukraine is not divided into regions – we are united and always ready to support each other. I believe that if our trips change at least one person, then we do everything right.
Volunteering is not an easy task. Sometimes it is difficult, you need to make an effort and devote your time to others. Often to those, whom you do not always notice in the everyday life routine. My advice to those who want to start volunteering is: “Do good and move on.” The idea behind this expression is that volunteering is not just about traveling to the East or participating in huge events. Volunteering is every action you do without waiting for anything in return. If each person does good and moves on, then there will be so much “good” that we can change this world. Personally, when I volunteer, I get inspired to do more and more. It gives pleasure and awareness of real happiness. Let’s become a part of this big puzzle, which adds up to an incredibly beautiful picture called – GOOD!