The trigger for initiating this collaboration was the 20th anniversary of Provident in Poland. The company wanted to celebrate the occasion in a special way to underline its ties with the local communities and to engage Provident's volunteers. The Zaczytani.org Foundation conducts fairytale therapy sessions for children staying in hospitals, promotes the culture of reading and establishes hospital libraries with books which children can take home. Hence, the need to supply the libraries and train new volunteers who visit young patients in hospitals. The needs of the foundation and Provident gave rise to a project entitled 20 libraries for Provident's 20th anniversary. The idea was very well received by the employees, customer advisors and customers who donated books to the foundation. In the first year of cooperation, almost 13,000 books were collected and in the second year – over 4,000.
During the first year, we opened 20 hospital libraries, among others in Gdańsk, Warszawa, Kraków, Słupsk, Elbląg, Mława, Rzeszów, Katowice and Poznań. This year, we’ve already opened five libraries and five more will be established by the end of the year.
Provident volunteers regularly visit children in hospitals and engage them in fairytale therapy. The engagement of volunteers is appreciated by both the children, because they can break away from the hospital reality, and the parents who can have some time for themselves.
“My adventure with reading was supposed to be a one-off visit to the hospital, however life proved me wrong. Reading to kids who are, in a sense, isolated from everyday life pulls you in like a magnet”, says Katarzyna Czarkowska, business process architect and Provident volunteer. “If somebody asked me today why I’d decided to go for the first time, I wouldn’t be able to say anything specific. I guess part of it was curiosity and part – the desire to do something for others. I saw it as an adventure and a chance to benefit from the volunteering opportunities that the company offered. Today, after almost a year of being a volunteer, I feel that the fairytale therapy sessions that I do every Tuesday are a part of my life”, adds Ms Czarkowska.
Employees and board members take part in the volunteering activities. They collect books for the Foundation and visit children in hospitals. Last year on Saint Nicolas’ Day (Mikołajki), they met with patients at the children’s hospital on ul. Żwirki i Wigury in Warsaw.
Collecting books and fairy tale therapy in hospitals are not the only activities performed by the company. Together with the Foundation, Provident promoted the culture of reading by means of a Bench for Reading – urban furniture in the shape of an opened book. The benches are created by renowned Polish graphic designers, painters, as well as journalists and actors. Located in the centres of large cities, they attract people's attention and encourage them to read. Among 10+ benches in the shape of a book that appeared in the centre of Warsaw, one of them enjoyed Provident’s patronage. It was made by a Polish painter, Laura La Wasilewska, whose project was inspired by the painting by Józef Mehoffer entitled Strange Garden.
As a result of joint efforts of Provident and the Foundation, a Zaczytana Akademia was established. Its coordinators work in larger cities where they cooperate directly with hospitals and train new volunteers.
In June this year, on the occasion of the Foundation’s fifth anniversary, Provident was awarded the Zaczytany Biznes prize for the company’s engagement in the Zaczytani.org activities and the promotion of reading. The prize was accepted by country manager, Agnieszka Kłos. Provident has also won a competition organised by the editorial staff of Super Biznes and Super Express. The Golden Laurel in the Social Initiative category was awarded to the 20 Libraries for Provident's 20th Anniversary project. The official award ceremony was held on 15 October in Warsaw. Patrycja Rogowska-Tomaszycka, corporate affairs director and a board member, accepted the award from Andrzej Malinowski, president of the Employers of Poland. The members of the Golden Laurel jury recognised Provident for its activities for the benefit of the Polish economy which are dedicated to the local communities and which take into account social interests.
20 libraries for Provident's 20th Anniversary is an example of cooperation between a business and a non-governmental organisation which changes reality for better, engages company volunteers and is strongly embedded in the local environment.