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Oranjefonds and Queen Beatrix promote volunteerism among the Dutch

Recent March weekend involved 300,000 people

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

UTRECHT, the Netherlands - About 300,000 volunteers devoted over 1,2 million hours during a recent weekend doing chores in their communities all over the Netherlands, in a national voluntarism campaign sponsored by the Oranjefonds (Orange Foundation) and the NLDoet (literally Netherlands Does) network. The 2011 effort aimed to double the 2010 weekend.

In this widely promoted annual campaign, newspaper readers and television news viewers are reminded of the value of volunteering for small community projects by seeing Queen Beatrix pitching in by decorating a wall in a community facility.

NLDoet’s network listed online a vast number of communities, from large cities to small hamlets, with assignments awaiting volunteers. Checking on the lists in a number of places, the great majority of chores had been matched with qualified volunteers. For example, the chores along the walking trail, which starts across the road of the former family farm near Zwolle, Overijssel, had been snapped up by enthusiastic youths, as had another one a short distance away at a concrete tiled schoolyard requiring the leveling of a number of those cumbersome tiles.

The list of shores represents a wide range, including tending to gardens, cleaning walls, and painting fencing and posts, and also helping the disabled and the aged. For some chores the main requirement was muscle power but most others required special skills and a significant level of knowledge and experience.

Europe and beyond

Volunteerism has a wide European network, with an official European Volunteer Centre (CEV), currently representing 88 mainly national and regional volunteer centres and volunteer development agencies across Europe. CEV channels the collective priorities and concerns of its member organizations to the institutions of the European Union. It also acts as a central forum for the exchange of policy, practice and information on volunteering.

CEV’s origins are rooted in an initiative by seven national volunteer centres, involving Belgium, France, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. These national organizations convened a meeting in Italy in 1989 to endeavour to increase European cooperation and the creation of the CEV the following year. On December 5, 1995, CEV organized its first ever European Day for Volunteering in the European Parliament with the active support of the EP, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and even UNESCO, giving it a still wider perspective.

Automobilists’ ANWB

To the ANWB, an organization founded in 1883 by cycling enthusiasts Edo Johannes Bergsma and Dirk ter Haar as the Nederlandsche Vélocipèdisten-Bond at the Maliebaan in Utrecht, volunteers are the “cherries on the pie.” The Dutch equivalent to the AAA and the CAA would languish without its volunteers who look after numerous projects the 4-million strong ANWB sponsors.

The ANWB, which also represents the interests of recreational walkers, hikers, horse lovers, motorcyclists, watersport, wintersport and camping enthusiasts, activities its covers in its magazines. As a result, the ANWB is constantly busy with trails to accommodate its members, road and trail signage throughout the country, and many other activities needing attention to enhance the program of the largest membership-based group in the country.