In June and September, employees brought joy to elderly and mentally impaired people.
Would everyone manage the walk to the park? The walk from the Limmat retirement centre to the Josefwiese park is not exactly far for the Helsana employees. But it's a challenge for many elderly residents of the retirement centre, especially in the heat. “We have to earn our bratwurst and potato salad”, laughs one 86-year-old resident as she carefully crosses the tram tracks with her walker. A Helsana employee helps her. They will spend the next few hours together. It's a chance friendship: just five minutes before, they had met for the first time at the entrance to the Limmat retirement centre in Zurich. More than 25 Helsana employees came together with the same number of senior citizens. There were a few nerves on both sides. Who are you going to meet, and what will the joint barbecue be like?
On foot, with the aid of a walker or in a wheelchair, the pensioners and Helsana employees make their way in pairs to the barbecue area at the Josefwiese park. By the time they arrive, they are already comfortable in each other's company. The older folks enjoy going on a trip as a group. They don’t get the chance very often as they don't usually have enough carers for it. But now, here on the picnic benches, they are enjoying chatting to the many Helsana volunteers: young and old deep in discussion, eating, laughing, playing games together and telling stories.
The afternoon is an enriching experience for everyone. It's an enjoyable few hours and having spent this time together, they say goodbye to each other at the Limmat retirement centre like old friends. It’s a valuable experience and the event is a great success. Of course, we’ll do it again next year.
Commitment to mentally impaired people
Painting kids’ faces, selling coffee and cake and helping at the drinks stand: on Balm Day in Rapperswil-Jona, Helsana employees helped the Balm Foundation bring in revenues. The Foundation supports and assists people with disabilities so they can live as independent a life as possible. The Balm Foundation caters for the needs of people with disabilities by providing individual support in a range of areas. It holds Balm Day at the start of September each year.
Its aim on this day is to celebrate diversity in all its forms: through handmade products and items on the market stands, games, food and drink, and live music.
The day will stay in all our memories. Helsana employee Sonja Wehrle has very close relationships with disabled people due to personal reasons. That motivated her to lend a hand on Balm Day. The day got off to a great start: one of the residents met her at reception, welcomed her and said, “It's so great that you’ve come here, it makes me really happy. Come with me, I’ll show you everything!” He gave her a very personal and cheerful tour that she’ll never forget. “I’ll definitely be back next year.”
Simon Grossenbacher came to the Balm Day as a visitor last year – this year he wanted to be one of the volunteers. “It's really admirable what the employees and residents of this Foundation do”, he says. “This initiative is a nice change from day-to-day work. It reminds you again what's really important in life.”
Rosemarie Schmid has been volunteering for years and is registered as a “Swiss Volunteer”. It makes her happy when she can help others. “The assignments are fun and you get to meet new people.” She's at the Balm because the daughter of a friend lives there. Rosemarie Schmid helped out with the face painting. “It was a nice challenge. I got better with each face and the kids absolutely loved it!”