With the holidays approaching it is time to reflect on the year passed.
2020 proved to be very unusual which made us direct all our efforts towards the coronavirus crisis but it also helped us look back and analyze our behaviours. We at Cedar were convinced that we can do anything – together as a team but also as a community built around the cause and determined to follow and support our mission. And while we socially distanced ourselves, we realized how important it is to help each other out, and this is how we managed to bear the lockdowns, the isolation and the homework.
It was a hard year for us but during those hard times we came across and attracted new partners and were inspired to look for new ways to reach out to people and businesses. We had to be more creative, more observant, more aware. Our main priority was to keep our children and staff safe, sound and healthy and to do so, we had to work hard to secure a safe home and workplace and to adapt our work processes to a domestic environment.
In 2020 we lost some of our potential donors and sources of income but our long term supporters by our side. We ran some successful online campaigns and we adapted our traditional charity quiz to a digital format. Our annual charity gala became the first hybrid charity event to be held in Bulgaria. The new format made it possible for people around the globe to take part and support our work.
Our advocacy efforts were also fruitful. We managed to influence governmental decisions which secured free Covid-19 testing and additional financial support for social services. The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria honored our claim and annulled Article 5 of Section II of the Methodological Guidance regarding the application of the Social Assistance act and its regulations due to violations of the public consultation procedure. And despite rootless protests and the postponements, the Law for social services entered into force on July 1st.
If we have to sum up how 2020 looked for us at Cedar and our community, it was a year of togetherness and mutual support. Therefore, we would like to express our gratitude to all Cedar employees, all volunteers that support our work and to all Cedar friends and partners, for believing in our work. Together, we are changing lives!
Growing up without a family is one of the biggest challenges that you may face in life. This is how things are for Y. and S.* for whom this is how life has been since their early childhood. But despite all the storms they have been through, they don’t stop striving for a better future, they don’t stop learning, gaining experience and dreaming of a world, where they will be useful and significant. For the past few years Y. and S. have been living in family-type homes, managed by the Cedar Foundation, where different experts are helping them follow the steps towards a better, more independent future. Their adventure began in the summer of 2019 with a job at the Margarita Asebo Nursing Home in Kazanlak where they help take care of elderly people. A year later, Y. and S. had the opportunity to upgrade their skills in working with children and young adults with special needs. This happened thanks to the Osvobozhdenie – 1884 Community Center in Sheynovo village and two volunteer projects with the European Solidarity Corps. An adventure, which continues today.
At first, the young boys started with regular visits to the elderly people in the nursing home and helped them with different activities – accompanied them to excursions and theatre, read books to them and organized fun games, bought essential items, etc. After a while they had the chance to work in family-type centers. Despite the challenging work with young adults with special needs, Y. and S. did a wonderful job and found an approach towards each and every one of them. They used methods like art therapy, sensory and music therapy. They organized sport activities, picnics, horse riding and nature walks. Their persistence and perseverance brought a positive change to the lives of the people under their care as well as to their own lives. While striving to be useful to the elderly in the nursing home and the young adults at the family-type homes, Y. and S. were also useful to themselves, because this communication taught them a lot of new responsibilities, patience and helped them develop practical skills, which will be always useful to them. Thanks to their efforts and the support they received, they managed to complete their professional education and can now work in rehabilitation and balneo centers. In addition, the two boys completed professional cooking and hairdressing classes. S. continues to develop his skills with an upgrading cooking class and Y. is attending music and folklore lessons with a professional teacher, as well as upgrading his math skills with the help of an experienced tutor.
The Cedar Foundation would like to thank the Osvobozhdenie – 1884 Community Center for their partnership, which helped the development and well-being of our boys.
*The names of the young men have been changed to ensure confidentiality.
As a member of Eurochild, the international network of organizations that provide support to children and protect their rights, The Cedar Foundation co-authored the report on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of children in Europe, including in Bulgaria. The ‘Growing up in lockdown: Europe’s children in the age of COVID-19’ report summarizes data from 25 European countries, collected between August and September of 2020. The aim of the report is to examine the ways in which the pandemic influences all domains of children’s lives and to provide policy recommendations to governments in Europe on addressing those issues that have a direct impact on children and their families.
The document is based on the evaluations of 42 of Eurochild’s members, including The Cedar Foundation, representing 25 countries. Cedar contributed to the report’s recommendations on the functioning and management of family type homes and on deinstitutionalization policies.
The report emphasizes the fact that most children in family type homes in Bulgaria live with disabilities and their health is vulnerable and frail. Social distancing is impossible in the family type home format because many of the children require intensive care, which cannot be provided without close contact with the personnel. In turn, the staff has to manage the compounded stress and to follow all safety and hygiene measures (e.g., disinfection, tracing, reporting). The lack of access to the accompanying social services and educational institutions during isolation has further contributed to the additional pressure and to the need for staff to carry out new activities and therapies, so that they can meet the children’s needs and take care after the latter’s physical and mental health.
Additional resource has been invested by service providers, including nongovernmental organizations, in the provision of personal protective equipment for staff and for disinfectant agents. Moreover, there was a prolonged lack of clarity as to the steps that would need to be taken in the case of an infection among one of the children or a member of staff, as self-isolation in a family home environment is impossible.
With respect to the policies for children’s care and their rights, there has been a delay in planning for the process of deinstitutionalization. There is a lack of effectiveness in the work of the Permanent Expert Group on Deinstitutionalization, which was created in 2010 with the mandate to monitor the action plan on deinstitutionalization in Bulgaria and to discuss and provide policy recommendations to the national government on its various aspects.
The recommendations in the report that pertain to Bulgaria are also related to the necessity for improving the social system’s capacity for responding in the event of a family crisis and preventing the need for alternative care, support for vulnerable children, a need for national policy for youths who leave the family type homes, and migrant children.
You can read more about the report’s conclusions and recommendations here.
Our charity campaign This Christmas Every Donation Matters kicks off at the end of November. It raises funds for physiotherapy and therapeutic gymnastics, as well as for providing quality care to the children and young adults at our centres. Long-term supporters of the organization are joining the campaign, as well as new partners, so that we can team up our efforts and make a more compassionate Christmas.
“We hope that more people will follow the good example of our partners, because this Christmas we all need more good news, more wonders and more faith. The more people and businesses unite for our campaign, the bigger the support for the disadvantaged children and young adults in these challenging months.”, said the Executive Director of the Foundation Alexandrina Dimitrova.
Among the partners, who stand behind the cause are Dabov Specialty Coffee, who have developed a special Christmas coffee blend and are donating part of the amount of each purchased pack; Salad Box, who are deducting part of the amount for their most popular salad Green Box; Edenred, who are giving their customers the opportunity to include a cause in the Christmas cards they get for their employees; “Bebe” Store in Kazanlak, who are also deducting an amount from a selected product, as well as other companies, who are dedicating their Christmas party to the cause, placing donation boxes in their locations or are making a direct donation.
We all know that this Christmas is going to be different. A lot of people won’t be able to celebrate with their extended family, to travel to their favourite holiday destination or gather with colleagues and friends. But this Christmas we can all be a little better. We can be more united than ever, by supporting each other and coming together to help those in need. Let’s remember this Christmas, as the Christmas we were compassionate. This Christmas every donation matters.
You should join us too.
During the past few months more and more companies have transferred to the home office model and their team meetings are taking place mainly online. In these circumstances it gets more and more difficult to bond with colleagues and the morning coffee meetings are not enough to keep the team spirit and motivation high.
At the same time, social responsibility and care for those in need becomes more and more popular among the young people, who are actively working from home. This is why our team doesn’t stop searching and suggesting ideas, which will help the companies unite over a good cause, give back to the community and have fun at the same time.
This fall our team developed new ways to support disadvantaged children and young adults. We came up with ways for you to combine team building elements with charity and do it while still keeping social distance and working from home. In the spring we created a Handbook with some ideas about doing charity remotely, and now we have created a second part of the Handbook, containing even more interesting and fun ideas. In the first part of the Handbook we suggested initiatives like the Promise Auction and Lunch & Learn with the idea that soon, we will return to our offices. In the second part of the Handbook we rely on healthier and continuously remote activities, like Challenge Week and 600 000 Steps. Specifically for the upcoming Christmas holidays and hoping for a more positive new year, we added an idea for a fun and interesting company calendar.
The purpose of these Handbooks is to offer alternatives to the standard team building activities, so that they can be just as fun in an online environment. The Cedar team actively participates and moderates the different activities. And the added value of supporting a cause that matters, can bond the team even more.
To find out more about the opportunities for charity through online initiatives for your team, please contact Adriana Gotsova at email@example.com.
You can find more suggestions on organizing a team building with a cause HERE.
At the end of September part of the children and the team from our centers in Kazanlak participated in a unique experience – a sensory journey through the city, organized by the Sensory Theatre Sofia.
This innovative activity aimed at building the trust between the participants and helping them develop empathy towards other people’s experiences, making them more confident when facing unusual situations.
In groups of three, our children and the employees were immersed in a world of self-knowledge. One person from the group, who was blindfolded, had to trust the rest to help him move through a city environment, relying on his other senses and the people, who were leading and supporting him. This way, the participants rediscovered the trust and closeness of the people next to them and allowed themselves to be guided through the city in these unusual circumstances.
The journey went through key spots in Kazanlak, such as the market, filled with the aroma of autumn vegetables, the rowdy streets and quiet nooks, and finished in the peaceful retreat of a local church. What the participants experienced turned out to be of a very personal and widely emotional essence – from fear to inner peace and confidence in the people, who lead you. This way everyone managed to immerse themselves in the experiences of the people, deprived of senses, but also, get to know oneself and the people close to them.
“An unforgettable sensory journey, which happened beyond what can be said in words or seen with one’s eyes. We listened to the world around us, we filled ourselves with more presence and realization of the present moment and yet again we realized how important trust is.” – Neli Boneva, manager of our services in Kazanlak, shared after the walk.
Children and young adults from all our centers participated in the sensory journey and the experience was complied with their capabilities.
The sensory journey through the city is an unusual point of view to the city environment and at the same time, a journey to oneself and to building trust in others. We would like to thank the Sensory Theatre Sofia, who are our long-term partners.
Participate in our online charity event There is no place like home, in support of children and young adults at risk.
The first Bulgarian hybrid charity event – There is no place like home will take place on September 30th 2020 at 7pm. The event offers an opportunity for people to participate physically by purchasing a ticket or online, for free. The purpose of the event is to raise funds for providing a family environment and secure home to children and young adults with disabilities and deprived of parental care.
In its online form, the event has already started and it offers several ways to support the cause, which can be accessed with just a few clicks. The virtual guests will have the opportunity to follow the evening through an online stream on the Foundation’s Facebook page. They will be able to participate in an auction, buy raffle tickets and compete in a special virtual challenge to win a shopping voucher for a home furniture store.
“A lot of people think that they cannot make a difference with smaller donations. I would like to tell them that this is not so and regardless of the donation size, the more people we can unite on the 30th of September, the bigger the final result and this means only one thing – a safe family environment for children and young adults at risk. This is why I hope that everyone who wishes to support the cause will register for the online event and look through the different means of participation”, Alexandrina Dimitrova, Executive Director of the Cedar Foundation appealed.
Buying more tickets for the charity raffle can give you a headstart in winning one of the many interesting prizes. Among them you will find a weekend for two in the Rhodope mountain, an air balloon flight, a custom-made shirt, a visit to a bio farm with an included artisan ice cream tasting, a sports membership card.
You can also support the cause by a direct monetary donation, directed to a particular need, like physiotherapy, medical care, school supplies or an amount of your choice. The size of the donation is determined by the donor. This way everybody has a chance to partake, according to their own judgement and capabilities.
All expenses on the organization of the event are covered by the foundation’s sponsors and partners – CMS Sofia, Hilton Sofia, America for Bulgaria Foundation, AG Capital, Communitas Foundation, Dundee Precious Metals. The funds, which are raised throughout the event will be directly invested in providing family care and specialized support to disadvantaged children and young adults. Media partners of the event are: Bulgarian National Television, Darik Radio, FOCUS Radio, EVA Magazine, Capital.bg, Dnevnik, Mediapool, Uspelite.bg, Iskrata.bg, Infoobzor.net.
The first of its kind virtual charity event in Bulgaria, “There Is No Place Like Home” will take place on 30.09.20 at 7pm. The purpose is to raise funds for providing a secure home to children and young adults, who are at risk or with heavy disabilities.
Joining the event is easy and having a good time is guaranteed. Regardless if you are in Bulgaria or somewhere else, at home or on a vacation with your favourite people, you can become part of the Foundation’s society and contribute to the cause.
An easy and free registration on the dedicated website of the event will give you access to it and the only thing you need is an internet connection. As a virtual guest you will be able to feel as if you truly are at a cocktail with an entertaining programme, as well as to join in the online challenge Home is… One of the participants will win an IKEA shopping voucher for BGN 200. To participate in the challenge, you need to show us a photo that represents what home means to you. We will be expecting your photos as a private message on the Foundation’s Facebook page.
While you are enjoying all the events of the evening, support the cause with just a few clicks on the website. You can do a direct donation to a particular need – for example, physiotherapy, summer camp, a custom-made wheelchair, education materials, etc. Or you can choose and buy tickets to the charity raffle with attractive prizes such as a weekend getaway in the mountains, a balloon flight, a rented electromobile, a basket with delicacies, personalized workouts, etc. Participate for your favourite prize now. You will find out if you have won, during the virtual event.
The event will be held in English. Register here.
How to register for the Cedar Foundation virtual charity cocktail?
Our monthly donation program “Sponsor a Child” has been active for 7 years and is one of our most preferred methods of support. Through this program, our supporters choose to help a specific child with BGN60 per month and also get a chance, should they wish, to receive news of the child, as well as photos. Most of the supporters of the program have been with us for years and are practically growing with the children, whom they support. They are sending birthday presents and get excited for the first day of school or upcoming vacations.
Due to the large interest in the programme, we decided to expand it and look for sponsors for some of our young adults, living in one of the Foundation’s centers in Kazanlak. Eight wonderful young boys (already men by age) – most of them are non verbal, but each one of them is unique with his own quirks and charm. They are all extremely disciplined, tolerant and are always helping each other. They work wonderfully well in a team and look after one another, as well as after their home and garden.
In exchange for only BGN60 per month, you can become a frequent supporter and help one of these young adults in covering his individual needs (clothes, cosmetics, personal hygiene, education materials and social inclusion activities).
If you wish to participate in the program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 0884962986.
Marti is our tech guru and his passion is cables. 🙂 One Christmas, Marti asked Santa to bring him not just anything, but a power strip with 5 sockets and 30 metres of cable. Marti can’t hear, but he compensates with his amazing conviviality, bright mood and sign language skills.
Stancho is very artistic. He loves painting and singing is his passion. While doing his daily activities, he is constantly humming and he manages to spread his bright mood to the people around him. At the moment, he is learning how to cut out shapes and he is able cut out a dog along the lines, with minimal help.
For Ivan, everything is rhythm and dynamics. He loves music, dancing and making sounds with musical instruments and other objects. But his favourite activity is using the veloergometer and channeling his energy in daily exercise.
This fall, for the 15th year in a row, we were to organise our biggest fundraising event – the Cedar Foundation Annual Charity Ball. But 2020 surprised us all with many new challenges. This year, even more than previous years, the children and young people we support need a calm and secure environment to go through the difficult times.
That is why in the last couple of months we, at the Cedar Foundation, have been actively working on a new format of our Charity Ball, in order to adapt to the new reality, but also to preserve the opportunity to unite the people and businesses that support our work. Now we need this more than ever.
The event “Cedar Charity Cocktail: There is no place like home” will take place on September 30th, 2020 at Hilton Sofia. In line with the social distance requirements, the event will gather a limited number of guests and will be streamed online so as to reach as many people as possible. For a first year, we will be using a custom-made online platform through which the guests in the hall and the virtual guests will all have the opportunity to donate by participating in a raffle or making direct donations to the cause.
Besides all the other novelties, we will present a new fundraising mechanism for Bulgaria, the so-called Paddle Raiser. This is a very simple technique where donors literally “raise their paddle” when they choose how much to donate and for what. Donors have the opportunity to donate the cost for physiotherapy for a certain number of children, for a summer camp, a custom-made wheelchair, educational materials, or something else. In this new form of bidding, we have 8 levels of donations that indicate a specific amount and need. Anyone who wants to donate for the children at risk, can do so even now.
Another way to support the cause is by purchasing raffle tickets. This can happen at any time, starting now until the event, through the platform here. You can browse the prizes and choose the one(s) you’d like to participate for. The more tickets you buy, starting now, the better chance to win the prize you want. Tickets for each prize are unlimited and the prizes will be drawn by the software during the event.
If you’d like to attend the event, you can buy a ticket here. Alternatively, you can register for the online event which will allow you to watch and participate through the online platform. Everyone who takes part in the event will help us secure a safe and caring home for children and young people at risk.
The event is organized thanks to partners and sponsors who support the cause even in this difficult time for any business or individual. These are the gold sponsors CMS Sofia, Hilton Sofia and America for Bulgaria Foundation, the silver sponsor Communitas Foundation, as well as the partners Dundee Precious Metals, DABOV Specialty Coffee, Whirlpool, Sircrow and others.
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