The President presented the St Luke of Crimea medals to the nominees for the 2021 Volunteer of the Year award: paediatrician Pavel Berezhansky, volunteer physician in the red zone Olga Zolotukhina, medical volunteer Vladimir Nikolsky, and Head of the #WeAreTogether campaign headquarters in the Kirov Region Yekaterina Sadakova.
Pavel Berezhansky, head of the pulmonary department at the Morozov Children's City Hospital, won the 2021 Volunteer of the Year title for his project offering counselling and support to parents.
The President also took part in The New Year Tree of Wishes event.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, my friends.
I am delighted to welcome you all and congratulate you on Volunteer Day.
Russia is marking Volunteer Day for the fifth time and this certainly is testament to the fact that your activity, your work for the benefit of society and specific people is highly appreciated in our country. We really need sincere and caring people who follow the call of their hearts and come to the aid of others, help address significant problems, achieve tangible results for the common good and, what’s more, offer much-needed, even indispensable support for specific people, a specific person, or specific families.
We know that volunteers have taken on a tremendous load and much responsibility during the pandemic; we know how much effort and warmth they have been investing into overcoming our common hardships. They have been risking their health and even their own lives.
I would like to once again thank everyone who showed this level of solidarity, those who did not step aside in this difficult period, who were not indifferent, who implemented their own initiatives or participated in the nationwide mutual support campaign #WeAreTogether. Non-profits, entrepreneurs, and public organisations are now in its ranks, as are political parties and our leading political force, United Russia. I thank everyone who has helped and is helping doctors work in hospitals and red zones, who help the elderly and anyone else who needs their support.
Your work is inherently noble, much needed, and always in demand. Your example inspires and encourages hundreds of thousands, even millions of our citizens to take similar action.
The volunteer movement is becoming a more powerful force every year. I think it was right to give this name, #WeAreTogether, to your forum, which is traditionally timed to coincide with Volunteer Day, as well as to the best volunteer projects contest, which received over 25,000 applications this year.
These words are imbued with relatable and pragmatic meaning, with an understanding of how important your unity is. That pooling efforts for the sake of our people and our country can always make things better and lead to impressive results in any sphere.
Volunteer work rests on such ideas as creativeness, humanity and mutual assistance – words that are relatable and understandable to everyone. These are universal values capable of erasing artificial barriers, boundaries, and sometimes even disagreements.
Thanks to them, this forum has now acquired an international format and significance – it has brought together volunteers from all regions of our huge country, the Russian Federation, as well as representatives from more than 40 countries. The #WeAreTogether award has also become international this year as well, and it was you who initiated the change. It is now awarded to foreign volunteers and their projects, too. I am delighted to welcome our guests from India, Slovenia, Mexico and other countries.
This kind of partnership and cooperation definitely serves to achieve common goals, helps to find the best and most effective ways to resolve people’s problems and concerns, both at local and global levels.
Once again – mercy, compassion, and an impulse to come to the aid of those for whom times are tough are values that know no boundaries; I would like to emphasise this once again. They unite people, even those who live far from each other – in different countries and on different continents.
Volunteers are keenly sensitive to something called the pulse of events; they go to places where things might be dangerous and are sure to be difficult, where the situation is extreme in the literal sense of the word. For example, this year in the south of Russia people faced the dire consequences of floods, or in Siberia where people were fighting forest fires.
This personal and profound understanding of problems and sore spots increasingly elevate volunteer initiatives to a new level – a level where system-wide, state decisions are made. And of course, I will certainly support all your undertakings, including work in government bodies to support the volunteer movement. This also applies to volunteers having insurance.
I know that even here, at this forum, you continue to help those who need support, that in fact this is a forum for real deeds, for good and kind projects, including for the upcoming New Year holidays.
Those projects are especially important for children at orphanages, as well as children in hospitals who cannot celebrate the New Year with their families and loved ones. They need heartfelt warmth and sincere support, they need a personal touch. And I don’t know anyone capable of providing this kind of support except you.
For my part, as is traditional, I will certainly join you to take part in The New Year Tree of Wishes, a wonderful charity event.