Volunteer LEO Club "White Nights"

Interview with Maria Kucherenko, a member of the club and a student of bachelor programme "Economics".

LEO Club "White Nights"

LEO Club "White Nights"
© Photo from the Club's official VK page

The members of the LEO Club "White Nights" describe it as:

1) Volunteering and project work;

2) International exchanges, travel, communication with foreigners.

LEO White Nights Club is an active and purposeful youth, interested in helping people, self-development, developing their talents, and traveling.

Many members of the club speak good English, and some have studied at universities or worked in the USA, England, Israel, Poland, and Hungary.

LEO means "leadership, experience, opportunity".

To find out more about the activities of the club, we interviewed a member of the club, Maria Kucherenko.

Maria Kucherenko
Maria Kucherenko

Hi, Masha! Tell me a little about yourself, about your hobbies.

Maria: My name is Maria Kucherenko. I am 19 years old. I am studying at HSE SPb “Economics” programme. I am fond of sports, especially swimming, journalism, I like to learn languages. By the way, I am learning Italian now.

It sounds cool, why did you decide to start volunteering?

Maria: I am a part of the Leo Club "White Nights" from the first day of its existence! Our mentor Armine Hovhannisyan told me about the possibility of participating in a volunteer organization, for which I am very grateful to her. Armine is a Lions Club (for people of 30+), where they help those in need from a financial point of view. Members of our Club try to do good by their own efforts.

Why is it important to help?

Firstly, you bring happiness, smiles and positive emotions into the life of needy people!

Secondly, you become the best version of yourself, because you pay attention and take care of the people around you!

Masha, you are a very kind person, tell me what your responsibilities at the club are.

Maria: I post photos from our events, write texts with my friend on Instagram. We visit the Club at least once a month to discuss future and past projects, and have fun together. We also have mandatory monthly contributions. It is the money we use to organize events.

What events and projects are you planning?

Maria: Our Club is small - only 20 people, so we choose tactics "not by quantity, but by quality." At the moment we have several projects running. We organize concerts for the elderly in a social home. We invite talented and creative people to the concert who sing, dance, play musical instruments, and recite poems. An opera singer performed at our concerts more than once.

We also deal with children from social homes. We help children understand the grammar of the English language, understand the laws of physics and mathematical formulas, we spend holidays with them. I was engaged in mathematics with a girl from grade 9, helped her to prepare for the OGE (exams at Russian schools).

In addition, we organize Saturday work in fall, spring, and summer. We cleaned the Yuntolovsky Reserve and the Gulf of Finland, not far from the Lakhta Center. After a work day, we love to have picnics and enjoy nature. These projects are major.

From the end of last year, we also began to collect unwanted clothes and give them to people without a certain place of residence, single mothers and those who simply need help. We handed over clothes and shoes to special organizations and funds.

Maria, when did you first try yourself as a volunteer? What was your first experience?

Maria: I helped in organizing and conducting a concert in a social home for the elderly. It was very pleasant to watch the grandparents, who watched our concert with a smile and great interest. After the concert we talked with them for a long time, they told us about their youth and life. These are incredible emotions when you look at an old person who can be childishly surprised and rejoice in simple trifles in life.

What is the kindest act you have done in your life?

Maria: I do not have a scale of good deeds. I believe that there is no very good and less good deed. For me, a smile to a passerby, helping a person finding the right place, work day, donations to the fund are on a par. After all, if a person is trying to improve the world - this is already wonderful.

I can give an example of the most courageous, in my opinion, act. I was a blood donor. I thought of the idea of becoming one for a while, but finally realized the plan. Now I can say that I will continue donate blood. I hope it will help good people!

What opportunities and prospects do volunteers have?

Maria: Nowadays, volunteering has great prospects! Firstly, there are many organizations, camps around the world, where you can come and help people with landscaping, raising education, caring for animals and much more. The volunteer usually receives in return free food, accommodation and the opportunity to see the country, to communicate with the locals. I think this is a great experience!

Secondly, now volunteering has a very generalized definition - it is not only aimed at helping your neighbor, but also involves underpaid work. For example, you were born in Italy and want to learn Russian. Then you can find a family in Russia that wants to learn Italian with a carrier. Bingo! Your interests coincided and now you can work as a tutor or governess in a Russian family. A very rewarding experience. Such an exchange is not aimed at making money (small wages are possible), but is aimed at cultural exchange, learning a foreign language, and find out more about the country. By the way, my friend, Miriam from Italy, participated in such a program. There are many websites and portals where you can find similar offers, for example, “Workaway.info”.
As for the White Nights Club, we are always improving, looking for new, active, and caring people to lend a helping hand to the needy and be the ambassadors of the GOOD!

Thank you very much, it was very helpful and pleasant to talk with you.

Text by
Emil Ganiyev