Anita Muschner of NAHst Foundation: "Volunteering increases social awareness"
Several years ago, Anita Muschner founded the NAHst foundation together with colleagues Sweedy and Hanneke. This foundation was founded by and for people with non-congenital brain injury (NAH). As project leader, Anita works closely with the business community to secure work assignments and recruit volunteers needed for the activities the foundation organizes. "These collaborations are a lot of fun," Anita says. "I often get back from volunteers that it gives them a better sense of what is going on in society."
NAHst Foundation is there for people with noncongenital brain injury (NAH). Anita explains, "We try to offer people a safe environment. We do this, for example, by organizing NAH cafes. Here people can talk to each other over a snack and a drink and share their daily worries. We also try to obtain work assignments. These are assignments that match the capabilities of people with NAH. They love it: by doing these assignments they have the feeling that they matter and that they are part of society. With the income the foundation generates from the work assignments, it organizes fun activities. "Last year we rented a bus and went to De Orchideeën Hoeve," she says. Some of our guests are in wheelchairs and some are not. It's nice to be able to do something like this because many of our guests don't get out very often anymore."
A beautiful collaboration
For a while now, the NAHst Foundation has also had a partnership with the SOOZ Foundation. This is a welfare organization dedicated to helping vulnerable local residents in the Amsterdam Oud-Zuid region. "Because of this cooperation, the events we organize more often target both vulnerable neighborhood residents and people with NAH. That somehow works very well, both for our guests and our volunteers. Besides NAH cafes, we also organize weekly dinner tables where vulnerable local residents and people with NAH can go for a healthy meal at a low price."
Business Involved Amsterdam
Volunteers are indispensable to the NAHst foundation. From the board to help with activities: the entire foundation runs entirely on volunteers. "Often these are people with NAH who can still do quite a bit," says Anita. "In addition, there are volunteers from the business community, who offer themselves through Business Involved to help with activities." Business Involved is a platform that matches businesses with organizations in the area of volunteering. "Through VCA, I have registered NAHst Foundation and lately I have also been approached by large companies through Business Involved. Sometimes very nice collaborations come out of that. Think for example of TMF Group or Liberty Global who offer to help organize parties for people who don't have it so easy. The tasks vary enormously, from serving drinks to preparing food or offering a listening ear."
Volunteers from the business community
"Liberty Global helped with one of our activities for the first time last summer. I thought at the time that this was a one-time action. But they keep asking me if they can do something, for example also to help with activities we organized in the month of December. I hear back from the business community that they really enjoy volunteering. Three weeks ago TMF Group was with us. There were ten of them, and they were wide-eyed with 'wow, it's great to be able to participate in something like that'. Those collaborations are a lot of fun, so of course I hope for more great collaborations like that. People with good steady jobs sometimes don't really realize what's going on in the social realm. I think that doing volunteer work raises awareness and it makes them see that the activities are really needed for this vulnerable target group."
When Anita looks to the future, she mainly hopes for one thing. "I hope we can continue to offer the dining tables and the NAH cafes, because for many it's really important to be able to sit and eat together in this way. And that the family caregivers also have their hands free for a while and can do something else. This will also be the biggest challenge next year. Because you have to have the financial resources for this and that is and remains difficult. Long-term relationships with companies help with this, so I hope for continued collaborations with the business community. I also hope that NAH will become more discussable. People with NAH are sometimes a forgotten group; I want to put them on the map. That is still my goal and I will continue with that."