25 July 2018

Natascha en Ria Bijl

For this article, I had a nice talk with Ria Bijl and her daughter Natascha; both volunteer at the Stichting Vier het Leven. Ria is a location coordinator and Natascha is a hostess. Together with the regional coordinator, Ria looks at the Hague offer for the upcoming season in the theaters.

Every quarter, we send a folder with the upcoming activities and after registration I link the available volunteers per activity to the participants, she said.

Ria, a business economist, worked for the Defense organization for years in spiritual care, a department that is involved, among other things, in the reception of soldiers who suffer from a trauma after a difficult and dangerous mission. Four years ago, she became a volunteer at the Foundation and that still gives her a lot of satisfaction to this day. Daughter Natascha, with her own practice as a skin therapist — and therefore frequently in contact with the elderly — also has a lot of affinity with this target group. She works as a hostess and assists the guests at the theater. The hostess has the final direction. She makes sure everything runs smoothly in the theater, such as any additional wishes of the guests on site and arranging the drinks during the break. Very nice to do, she reported, and also good to combine with my work.

The foundation was founded in 2005 as a local initiative, but quickly grew into a national organization with more than 20,000 members. The Hague provides an average outing for an average of 1,500 participants per year, but the Archipel / Willemspark can, according to Ria, still use some participants! The Foundation organizes cultural activities for the elderly (65+) who do not like to go out alone but do like museums, film and theater. They are picked up at home by one of the volunteers and together, with other guests, they go to the cinema, a concert, a theater performance or to a museum. The participants enjoy a drink before and in between and from each other’s company and are brought home safely afterwards. It’s nice to see that new friendships are created, Ria said. We ensure that older people continue to participate and remain part of society by enjoying an afternoon or evening out together. The strength of our foundation is in the customization, the personal attention and the removal of thresholds. People who reach an old age, become less mobile (or wheelchair-bound) or lose their partner are often at home and we bring them back into contact with activities that make life worthwhile. That’s fantastic, is not it? Although the majority of the volunteers are older, according to Ria, it is very nice that more and more young people sign up as volunteers and like to please the elderly as much as possible. Since many activities take place in the evening, it is easy to combine this with work or study.

Membership is free and if you are in possession of a Stork pass, you will receive a discount (usually 50%) on admission fees. We are looking for new members in the Archipel / Willemspark and also volunteers who want to accompany the elderly to the museum, the cinema or the theater, Ria reported.
The volunteers can then enjoy the show “for free”! Nice, is not it?
Interested? See more information on the website www.4hetleven.nl or call 035 – 5245156

Josephine de Vijlder