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President Kaljulaid acknowledged this year’s volunteers


President Kersti Kaljulaid, patron of the national volunteers' thanksgiving event, presented the decorations of volunteers today in the Winter Garden of Estonia Theatre with the creators of Kodukant, the Estonian Village Movement. "If we were to add up the work that volunteers all over Estonia do – as much as dispassionate statistics and studies will allow – this would add up to full-time annual work done by approximately 10,000 people," said the Head of State.

President Kaljulaid stated that volume of work done by Estonian volunteers in voluntary working groups, voluntary rescue work, shelters and orphanages, societies and hobby groups, to make local life better and more interesting is equal to the general work done in a small Estonian county. "But it is not the volume of work done that's important. In many cases, we are speaking about saved lives or fates made easier. And our country also needs the spirit and attitude that keeps you going," said the President at awarding the decoration.

"The attitude that persists among us will be exactly as good as we decide to make it ourselves. We hold the key to changing things are not what they should be. We do not complain in vain about why nobody does anything; instead, we give it a go ourselves," she added.

This year, 149 proposals were received for the recognition of volunteers and the choice was made by an evaluation committee.

At the thanksgiving, associations and people who have consistently involved volunteers in their efforts and kept them inspired were acknowledged. There were 35 nominees and five of them were chosen: the Estonian Refugee Council, the Estonian Debating Society, Siim Rohtla from association ESTSAR, Riina Solman from welfare of Oleviste congregation and Rainer Rahasepp from South Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board.

Enterprises that facilitate the participation of their employees in non-government organisations were also acknowledged today. There were 13 nominees in the given category; those acknowledged were Stillabunt OÜ and KPMG Baltics OÜ.

98 nominees were presented as volunteers who are consistently acting to support Estonian society. Decorations were received by nine people and nine associations: Henno Sepp (Pärnu Society of Philatelists, Pärnumaa Lõõtsahaigete Selts (Pärnumaa Society of Accordion Fans), Pärnu Pensioners Association, Pärnu Saarlaste Seltsing (Partnership of Island Inhabitants in Pärnu), Helen Hiiemäe (ELF (Estonia Fund for Nature, Let's Do It bees, Estonian Village Movement Kodukant), Anžella Kaljula (Viljandi Food Bank, NGO Viljandimaa Lasterikaste Perede Ühendus (Association of Large Families, Viljandi county)), Karl Kirt (Tõrva Youth Council, NGO Tõrva Noorte Liit (Tõrva Youth Society), Tõrva Radio), Rita Goruškna (Tallinn Society of Sportsmen with Disabilities, Tallinn's City Board of Disabled People), Kalju Komissarov (Kuhjavere Village Theatres Festival), Kersti Urbala (Minu Unistuste Päev (My Dream Day) charity foundation), Evar Ojasaar (Muraste Village Society, Tilgu Seals, the Defence League, assistant policeman), Norman Aasma (Tallinn Central LIbrary) and Misso Vabatahtlikud (voluntary rescue company).

The names of all the nominated candidates, complete with short introduction, are available from Vabatrahtlike Värav (Volunteers' Gate) at http://vabatahtlikud.ee/vabatahtlik-tegevus/tunnustamine/marka-vabatahtlikku-2016/.

Recognition of volunteers is supported by the National Foundation of Civil Society.

Office of the President
Public Relations Department