Reports about volunteering - sharing of experiences

Erste Group’s companies in Austria encourage, assist and support initiatives and voluntary activities that benefit the community. 

Through their social engagement and the time they donate, many employees are providing
an important contribution to civil society.

Read some of the stories of those who have already tried it - and are thrilled by their experiences.  

#believeinyourself: Our Christmas packages put a huge smile on childrens’ faces

170 aid packages were handed over

Many kind-hearted colleagues responded to the Johanniter Christmas appeal and filled boxes with foodstuffs, toiletries, sanitary products and toys - and even wrapped them up for Christmas, too.  Although it was still not clear at the end of November whether we would be taking part in the initiative, we put together an incredible 170 aid packages in a really short time after the starting gun was sounded. We were very glad that we managed it!


Our colleague was a part of it

From 26 - 30 December 2019 the aid packages were transported to one of the poorest regions of Romania, where they were distributed to needy families. There are people living in poverty in the countryside in particular. Their lives are characterised by high unemployment, insufficient healthcare provision and uncertain future prospects. And those are exactly the issues we would like to tackle. Showing a great deal of #believeinyourself, one member of our Time Bank team, Jennifer Pencs, travelled with the Johanniter to southern Romania to see for herself how our aid was being received.

An unforgettable moment

“It was incredible to see the shining eyes of the children and their parents, who were already there waiting for us when we arrived. I found their gratitude extremely moving - it was an unforgettable moment,” said Jennifer Pencs, clearly welling up with emotion. The Johanniter’s Romanian partner organisation has even initiated a follow-up project, which aims to teach the children who received packages what is meant by sustainability and to encourage them to commit to protecting the environment.We on the Time Bank team feel totally justified once again in believing in our and our employees’ ability to make a positive contribution to society - because, of course, this would not have been possible without the engagement of all our colleagues.

Thank you to everyone who gave such active support to this aid campaign!

"Wärmestube" instead of Christmas party

The Christmas party for the Group Sustainability Office (GSO) combines "time together as a team" with commitment to the socially disadvantaged. My Time Bank team told us that Caritas is urgently looking for volunteers for the "Glanzing Wärmestube", especially for the Christmas holidays - just what we needed. 

The 35 "Wärmestuben" offer people, regardless of their origin, religion or residence status, a protective refuge in the cold winter.

  • a warm, comfortable recreation room 
  • free catering 
  • the opportunity to rest
  • a sympathetic ear for sorrows and hardships
  • a volunteer team to prepare and serve a hot lunch or coffee snack 

Our team outreach was on 3 January 2020 and we organised Erdapfelgulasch for 50 people at a nearby inn. Additionally we offered bread, pastries, fruit salad, homemade cake, hot and cold drinks and daily newspapers.

Already before 12:00, visitors came and were happy about their first warm meal that day.We found enough time to talk to the people. Everyone spoke good German or a guest translated the questions and wishes. There were people with academic education as well as people with little schooling. For all of them, it would not be expected that they would be dependent on this help because of their clothes or appearance - that means poverty is often not visible. 

After getting to know each other, we learned about unemployment, working poverty, mini pension, unheated flats (costs) or homelessness. And the relief and joy of being provided with warmth and food for a few hours. 
For us it was an immersion in another world that is so close. The gratitude, the smiles or hearty laughter we received from these people on the edge of society, showed us again how important social commitment is for the people concerned. 
We drove home with the feeling of having made a small contribution to the relief of people in extreme situations.  

Klaus Bergsmann / Group Sustainability Office

#believeinyourself video: Social engagement strenghtens teams

Social Activities at the GGP Alumni meeting on 1 september 2018

At the year´s Alumni meeting of the Group Graduate Programme on September 1, the organizers decided to integrate some social activities into the schedule. Besides a bit of fun and networking they actively wanted to give something back to society and that way acted accordingly to our statement of purpose.

Participants could register for one of three different activities:

  • Construction of fences at the day center for handicapped people “Am Himmel”
  • Cooking for homeless people at “Zweite Gruft “
  • Excursion with inhabitants of the nursing home “Seeböckgasse” to the flowergarden Hirschstetten

In total 35 participants from different entities within Erste Group worked very enthusiastically on the tasks given.
The social organisations were all very thankful for the great support. The statement from Gerhard Kohlmeyer from the day center speaks for all: “Despite the bad weather conditions we were able to construct half of the fences and in addition your people helped us to prepare our products for sales. We would never have managed so much without your help!” 

Cooking mission in the course of the training “CSR High Potentials” in the Caritas Day Center at “Hauptbahnhof”

Claudia Breitwieser/0198 0004 Filiale Graben

For us it was a nice and moving experience. On the one hand, it is a happy moment being able to cook for people who highly appreciate it and that they enjoyed the food. On the other hand, we were touched by the amount of people, who come for hot soup every day, because it is one of the few opportunities to get something cooked to eat. How natural it is for us to buy or prepare our meals every day. That was really eye opening for us. The support and cooperation of the employees and volunteers on-site were really great! Thank you for the opportunity to cook.

Matthias Köckeis/0198 0182 Filiale Gersthof

It was a day full of joy for me. Joy because our team brought a good atmosphere! Joy because we were able to give something back! And joy because we could gain something from the people! They told us their stories. They showed us that this institution is an important support for many. A support to get back on your feet! I can only recommend this experience.

Social Day for GGP participants (Group Graduate Program)

Report by Brigitte Raschka-Seidl / 0196 0316 Group Talent Mgmt. and Learning

Like former intakes, the participants from the GGP 2016/18 dedicated one day within their final class room in Vienna for a social activity.

On March 22, 2018 the trainees worked together on several projects with refugees from Haus Damaris, a home for refugees in the 19th district of Vienna, on several projects:

  • Painting in the children’s play room ( remove old furniture, paint, sort out damaged materials, clean up afterwards)
  • Construction of new tables for the sitting room
  • Creation of T-Shirts together with small kids who live in Haus Damaris

The group of 20 trainees from different entities within Erste Group worked very enthusiastically to finish all tasks within one day.

The inhabitants of the refugee home were very grateful for the help and therefore prepared typical Syrian and Afghan dishes for lunch.

Some older kids also stepped in to support the workers as you can see at the group picture, made after finalizing all given tasks.

Gudrun Köhne from Caritas was impressed by the huge engagement of the young people. She stated clearly that “such motivated groups are always welcomed!“


Social Responsibility Day which was organized by unit “Payments Operations and Clearing” and the project of Time Bank

On November 24th 2017, seven employees of Payments Operations and Clearing (0196 0686) had the honor to spend a day with residents of Kolpinghaus “Gemeinsam leben“ Wien, a new form of communal living in Vienna’s 2nd district.

The original idea behind the house is to bring together different generations of people to live under one roof in order to support one another and exchange experiences. Those living there range from senior citizens to single mothers facing difficulties in life.

With the support of the great staff and volunteers, our colleagues were able to experience a day in the life at Kolpinghaus. They participated in many activities with residents such as sitting football, wheel chair training and flying ball play.

For people who are not exposed to such initiatives, it was an opportunity to get involved even if it was only by getting to know about the residents and to try to support them. As we know, anyone of us could one day be in their shoes.

“When we see those people with special needs, we get to appreciate more our good health and the health of those around us”, said one of the participants.

“I was so emotionally touched by what I have seen! But I wished that no one would ever need to be in such a situation”, said another colleague.

How corporate social responsibility changed the life of a refugee, Michael Schneglberger

During the six years of armed conflict in Syria, images of the tragedy were never far away from our TV screens and newspapers. They only served to remind us of the ongoing suffering of millions of people, and the fortunate gift we have in living in a safe and secure place. At first glance, there may not be an obvious link between the human crisis in a distant corner of the planet and the world of EG IT INT, and yet there is one. Mohammed, who asked for his last name to be withheld, is not only one of our colleagues at EG IT INT, but he is also a Syrian refugee who experienced the hardship of war firsthand.

As a company that is defined by the rich diversity of backgrounds, beliefs and the entire range of experience of our people, a part of EG IT INT’s identity is also shaped by the inspiring life story of our colleague Mohammed. Mohammed’s path crossed with that of Michael Schneglberger, Head of BRCC and a member of EG IT INT’s Management Board, at the Red Cross Refugee Center Baumgarten. Michael took part in a volunteering activity called “Social Day”, helping refugees write job applications, while Mohammed assisted as an interpreter.

Since May 2017, Mohammed has been an integral part of the BRCC team at EG IT INT, where he was given the opportunity to do “the job he has always dreamed of”. Alongside work, he is studying business informatics at the University of Vienna.

The circumstances that brought Mohammed in contact with our company might have been random, but the decision to give him a chance to prove that he is an asset to our team was intentional. Even more so, it is a powerful statement of what corporate social responsibility fundamentally is about.

At a time when CSR has become a buzzword without much meaning, the story of Mohammed shows that this concept actually can make a positive difference. At EG IT INT, we see our social conscience as a serious and collective commitment to give back and to help change lives. This is why we want to encourage all of our employees across ranks and levels to get involved.