Ági Marshall – a mother of three teenage boys – coordinates our special education program Biztibusz through primary schools that aims to prevent injuries among children.
Ági arranges the training days for the teachers that register in the program, she takes care of the volunteer teachers’ network, the marketing activities, and ensures that all schools of the Biztibusz program receives the training package on time. Within the team, Ági is the heart and soul of the program. She has chosen volunteer work instead of regular employment. Wonder why?
What has motivated you to become a United Way volunteer?
I wanted to give back to society and was looking for an organization with goals and objectives that I feel close to my heart. I started out by searching for a job, then I met United Way Hungary, got to know their Biztibusz program, and decided to take on the program’s coordination as a volunteer. I feel passionate about children and their education. Now I can do something about both by participating in this work.
What motivates you to be a volunteer? What have you received from this experience?
I have found an excellent team and community here. It is a great feeling to see that volunteers’ help and support can increase the performance of a small group of paid employees to such extent. The committees and the supervisory board of United Way also unites volunteers that take an active role in the operative work. It truly inspires me to see the expertise and professionalism they present in order to achieve positive changes in society.
It also feels great that even as a volunteer I am considered to be a team member of full value: I complete tasks with independence and responsibility by making the most out of my knowledge and skills. Practically, I represent the program towards the teachers and the schools. The trust that I receive from the organization is also very motivating. It feels good to keep giving in such an inclusive environment, so I don’t evaluate how much I give and how much I receive.
You have mentioned that you are the contact person for the volunteer teachers’ network that already includes around 500 teachers. Do you receive any feedback from them?
Yes, of course. The program is based on the concept of “train the trainer”, which means that we train the teachers who carry on the knowledge and the program to the schools and the children. It is nice to see that both the teachers and the kids enjoy the program, and educating them about such a complex matter like accident prevention can still be fun. Some of the teachers are very committed and innovative: they even make some improvements to the program within their own classes and school. I gain a lot of energy from the regularly received thank you notes and all the positive comments and feedback that the schools report to us annually.
Can you pick one incident that especially touched your heart as a United Way volunteer?
A truly touching, special moment that I remember was not part of the Biztibusz Program, but happened while working in the Könyforgató program. We were distributing books donated to the Burattino School of Csepel where most students are socially disadvantaged. There was a young boy who was so excited and happy to get one of the books. He told me that he didn’t have many books of his own, so once he got home he would put this book next to the other two he owns. This very moving moment reassured me that I am in the right place.
What is your message to those that are new in volunteering?
There are many forms of volunteering. Many times an act of volunteering that we consider insignificant and feel unsure about offering can mean a great amount of help to others. Therefore, I encourage everyone to be brave.
Can you share the phrase that serves as your motto?
Sure. I lived in the US for years and heard a great expression from Oprah Winfrey while watching one of her shows: “You know better, you do better.” I truly believe in this and this is why I consider education extremely important.