Making a difference by caring, gardening and renovating

More than 30 Aspen volunteers participated in three projects focusing on providing a welcoming environment for people with traumatised experiences or with mental health problems.

Working alongside mentally ill patients

Caritas Day Care Centre in Munich is a facility for 42 mentally ill patients. These residents are able to assist with tasks such as cooking and gardening, and they are offered breakfast and lunch as well as music and painting therapy.

Eleven Aspen volunteers were joined by some very keen residents who assisted them to paint the cafeteria, kitchen, office and the entrance in order to create a pleasant and comfortable environment.

The experience of working alongside the residents was very positive and employees who had recently joined Aspen thoroughly enjoyed the day by simply giving back to the community.

The event concluded with a barbeque in the garden and engaging discussions with the residents and staff. The team agreed that it felt good to be able to make a Mandela Day difference at Caritas!

Improving conditions for traumatized girls

Mädchenheim Gauting, a youth welfare institution for traumatized girls, was Aspen Germany’s second beneficiary. As one of only two such facilities in Germany, there is a long waiting list for admission with as many as 250 applications received annually for acceptance at this home.

The facility accommodates some 60 girls who have all experienced severe forms of abuse, sexual assault, neglect and other traumas and who are accepted based on the outcomes of comprehensive psychological evaluations. The girls, who are aged 13 to 18, are cared for through 8 intensive therapeutic group programmes.

An in-house school was established at the facility more than 30 years ago with a curriculum that is tailored to the needs of the teenagers. On average, a resident remains at Mädchenheim for approximately 2 years.

Ten motivated employees, including members of the sales team who were in Munich for a conference at the time, visited Mädchenheim to attend to some of their needs. As a pleasant, peaceful environment is an important aspect of the healing process, the Aspen team carried out numerous improvements that included painting the bedrooms as well as extensive work in the expansive gardens such as weeding, trimming the hedges and clearing up debris.

One of the Aspen volunteers said “it was important to show the girls, that we, as Aspen, do care and take our social responsibility seriously by supporting projects like this. We hope that, through this example, we inspired some of them to give back in their own way later on in their lives.”

Caring for Alveni’s refugees

The Alveni (Welcome) refugee station received much needed support from the Aspen Germany team.

The majority of the severely traumatized 35 male refugees accommodated at Alveni are aged 16 to 21 and are unaccompanied minors from Afghanisatan and northern Africa.

Not deterred by the scorching heat, the compassionate Aspen volunteers painted the two garden houses, weeded and planted flowers and shrubs, cut the hedges and meadows, replaced plants in the herb garden and thoroughly cleaned two terraces.

They had two young boys from Alveni to keep them company for the day and this gave them a rare insight into the life of a refugee and the extreme conditions that they have had to endure.

In addition to receiving a wholesome lunch prepared by Alveni’s employees, the team concluded the day with coffee and freshly baked cake. They took advantage of the social opportunity to learn more about the home, the residents and the circumstances that have forced them to seek refuge there.

The overriding sentiment from the team was that their actions proved how strong the Aspen community is and they committed to conducting more projects for Mandela Day in 2019.