CEV and me. A 14 years long story.

In January 2005 I took over the leadership of Pro Vobis – the National Resource Center for Volunteerism in Romania. I knew the organization was a member of the European Volunteer Center (CEV). Pro Vobis was to host the 2005 General Assembly of CEV in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and I had to organize it. That is why I have attended the meeting of the Board of Directors of CEV scheduled in Bonn, Germany, at the United Nations Volunteers Headquarter. This has marked the beginning of an incredible 14 years journey that comes to an end today.

I have served as board member of CEV for 2 mandates from 2005-2008 and 2009-2011, I took a break for my maternity leave and came back to become CEV vice-president between 2014-2015 and President from 2015 until today. This experience has significantly shaped who Pro Vobis has become during this time and has also significantly shaped the professional I became during this time.

Pro Vobis has gained a lot due to the consistent engagement in CEV. I will just name that we have an extraordinary pool of partners that we know do a good work, that we trust to go into partnerships with and that have expertise to share. This is extremely important in times when funding is increasingly available for transnational partnerships and for a country like Romania where no internal governmental funding is available for volunteering. It is due to the connection and information flow from CEV and Brussels that Pro Vobis managed to get engaged meaningfully in the European Year of Volunteering 2011 activities in Romania, and it is due to the affiliation with a European level body that Pro Vobis has been around the consultation table with key decision makers in Romania.

Our investment in CEV has been about the time and commitment of the delegated representative, and the necessary financial resources to attend meetings and cover the membership fee. It has not always been easy to budget these expenses, and we had to use our creativity to the maximum to get it eligible in projects. But we have also used the opportunities that CEV is offering to make the most out of our projects and initiatives. Not a minute had we thought it is too much or it is not worth it. It was fully worth and the best investment that Pro Vobis has made in affiliations and networking. I have delivered several workshops as part of CEV events, spoke and promoted CEV and volunteering in various ways throughout these years. I have invested hours and hours of time to reviewing documents, responding to consultations, contributing to policy and advocacy actions or travelling to attend events. I have gained enormously in terms of professional skills and knowledge. I have also gained lifetime friends that I am very grateful to have.

As I step down from the position of President, leaving you in the good hands of (Lejla or Joao), there are a few things I want to share with you. First of all, I want to assure you that CEV has an incredible dedicated and professional staff that is doing excellent work. They are all dedicated to the cause of volunteering, skilled and knowledgeable. And they need your support as CEV members to be successful in what they are doing here in Brussels. I want you to be assured that CEV has an excellent board of directors, with vision and passion for volunteering, with a thorough understanding of good governance, and the required dedication to invest their time and abilities to ensure the leadership of CEV. It is your responsibility as members to be demanding on them all, but also to bring your contribution.

My personal motto is “You get from life as much as you invest in it”. And I apply this in all my endeavors. I share with you that I have invested a lot in CEV. But I got a lot out from CEV. It is a matter of choice how much you invest in CEV, both at individual level and also at organizational level. Expect to get back just about as much as you invest. If you take the comfortable choice of paying your membership fee and sending a proxy to every GA, you will get the comfortable note on your website that you are a member of CEV. If you choose to engage more, you will get more. You can get your ideas in the EU level policy. You can get to travel around Europe and promote volunteering. You can get to develop and innovate in transnational partnership projects together with other CEV members. And much more. But only if you chose to. A network, like CEV, is just as strong as its members are. It is like a small country where democracy and solidarity flourish only if its citizens are responsibly engaged. The level of leadership and value return to the member-citizens is a direct product of their level of engagement.

We all have busy lives and claim to be doing everything we can. I would challenge you to really think if we are actually doing this. Isn’t there more that we could do? I’ve recently read that people do everything they can to the level of their availability. Not to the level of their capability. I am sure you can do more. You just have to let yourselves challenged and strive to reach your full level of engagement. In every endeavor of your personal or professional life.

I know the world is changing, our countries are changing, we as individuals, as well as our organizations, are changing. But how much we change to adapt, in which direction we change to adapt, to what we do and we do not adapt is a matter of choice. Letting go is a choice. I have chosen to let go. I know what we’ve built together over the past 14 years and I know there are strong and dedicated people that will take this forward. I will miss you all. But I definitely hope we will stay in touch. I will always be happy to take part in events and activities that CEV or you are doing in your countries, in different capacities. I have started 2 and a half years ago my work as independent consultant, trainer and facilitator and I would be happy to collaborate with you and CEV in the future. CEV will always have a special place in my heart, just as will the extraordinary people I have met here and the friends I have made here.

I am deeply indebted to CEV and all of you for what I have learned, lived and shared during these 14 years together. Thank you!