What Inspires Alexandra From Sunny House Center to be a Social Worker!

Alex together with her colleagues Elis and Ivelina.

Alexandra is a young specialist developing herself in the field of psychology and social work. She came back to the day center “The Sunny House” continuing her missing to help others. Learn more about what inspires her, what is her experience with volunteering like, and what were the challenges during the pandemic.

Hello! Please introduce yourself with a few words 🙂

Hello! My name is Alexandra and I am 27 years old, from Varna. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Psychology. I am familiar with the activities and services in the field of social work , and that is why I wanted to take part in the current project of the day center “Sunny House”.

Is this your first time being a volunteer?

This is not my first time volunteering. From 2009 to 2013 I was part of the Bulgarian Red Cross Youth. During those couple of years, I was part of many teams, and at last, I took the position of vice-chairman of the Social services team.

How did you find out about European Solidarity Corps and what motivated you to join the project?

I was previously working at the day center, so they personally invited me to join the project. The team shared with me there is a free spot and I decided – why not give it a shot? I knew the organization and the employees, as well as the clients of this social service. The whole process was like coming back to my old place and I liked that quite a lot!

Tell us more about your tasks as a volunteer?

My tasks as a volunteer were related to supporting the activities of the center and the employees. Everything included in the monthly program is done by both volunteers and the official employees. The main goals of our work are to help clients in developing fine motor skills, as well as improving their skills so they could become more independent in their daily lives. 

There are different sessions based on music therapy methods, as well as art therapy, both of which are quite interesting. We do emphasize activities that involve working with hands because they help with the development of participants.

What challenges are you facing during your work with people with disabilities?

Personally, I did not meet any challenges. I knew where I was going and what my work would be like. It was nothing new or scary to me, it’s a matter of perception, of making a habit of it.t. The challenge in working with such type of social service clients is a matter of finding a way to adjust to the specific person.

Tell us, were they any differences between your previous experience and the process of work now? How was it to join “Sunny House” again?

Going back to Sunny House was wonderful! When I got back I found the place renovated and in great condition. There were a lot of new young specialists, and all of them have a positive attitude. That definitely helped me bond with the team fast and easily.

The main difference in the tasks I do is that I don’t need to give in technical reports and files, also I don’t need to do special assessments. Generally, I don’t keep track of the documentation. That’s the main difference. In terms of daytime activities – it’s all the same.

The main idea of ​​the activities we do is to be helpful – both to the client and the organization. The things we do handmade are very beautiful, so we sell them on bazaars, which is great because we can support the organization this way!

What motives you the most during your work on the project?

What motivates me the most is seeing the results from the activities that I do, and knowing that I have been useful! What I am working for is the smile of the clients and I love the fact that they are happy to see me, they are looking forward to my attention. The fact that they allow me to work with them is not a little thing as well – there are many people with eccentric characters and you need to work hard in order to find the right approach with them. 

It’s wonderful to work on creating something handmade and to see how happy everyone is in the end!

How did the pandemic affect your work? How are you facing the challenges?

I started my mobility on the 1st of October. Back then the pandemic measurements were a bit lighter but we all know what happened. The pandemic definitely affected my work. I myself caught the virus in November and I was out of work for a while. However, I did try to catch up with some activities remotely from home. I was creating online banners and promotional materials for our social channels. 

I spent November and December almost fully remotely working, which was challenging because our social work is highly related to direct work with the client. Often these people cannot use mobile devices. And as much as we communicate, that’s not quite beneficial for them. It is definitely helpful to their parents because we support them, but it’s still not quite perfect. After all, we managed to succeed in remote work. 

We prepared materials for the day of the volunteer, as well as the international day of people with disabilities, we prepared Christmas cards and such things. Alongside some of the colleagues started going to personal visits. At the beginning of this month, I also started taking part in mobile work. We spent 2 weeks doing personal visits, and after this, the center opened doors again. Parents of the participants have to go to work and they cannot keep staying at home. We make sure that the groups are small – we have activities with one group before noon and one in the afternoon, as we disinfect in between. It’s definitely better than nothing!

What would you say to other young people to motivate them to become volunteers?

I believe young people who are just graduating need to gain some actual experience in the field that they have been studying, in order to see if that’s truly their thing. Employers often want experience from youngsters, but it’s so hard for somebody to give you a chance to start with no background. Volunteering plays a great role in this situation because it gives you the opportunity to develop yourself in a new environment. Here are some reasons why you should try it in my opinion:

  • That’s a great chance to see if this is what you really want to be doing in life!
  • It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain first-hand experience, even if it’s for a few months. That will show future employers that you had the chance to develop some work culture. Also, 6 months is enough time to see if that’s really your space and do you have the skills needed!
  • Last but not least I can say that volunteering is a great chance for youngsters to find out their true passion!


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