It’s not easy to self-isolate oneself: you need to stock up on supplies or order deliveries via apps, make sure you have a backup of all the essential medicines, and organize everything you need to work remotely. This is especially difficult for the elderly, who are also very susceptible to the coronavirus infection. So, the members of ITMO’s Volunteer Center decided to help the older staff members of the university who now have to refrain from any contacts with the outside world.

“We are all part of one family and we help each other,” says Andrey Zlenko, Head of the Department for the Development of Student Initiatives. The elderly staff members have it the hardest now, they need help, so students come to our center in order to get together and help them. Everyone willing to participate can write to or file an application here. We offer the essential training and involve the students in our effort.”


Andrey Zlenko
Andrey Zlenko

In order to get help, a staff member has to file an application and state the kind of help they need: delivery of essential supplies, help with online services, and so on.

Food and medical supplies

The volunteers are ready to help by delivering essential supplies and medicine so that the elderly staff members wouldn’t have to leave their homes to get them. The volunteers take the necessary precautions in order to not get infected themselves and to not infect the ones they are helping.

“All volunteers have the essential protection: a mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer. They are forbidden to enter the apartments, so they leave the supplies at the doorstep in order to avoid direct contact,” comments Alena Tarasova, manager at the Department for the Development of Student Initiatives and coordinator of the volunteering effort.

Alena Tarasova
Alena Tarasova

Configuring equipment for online lessons

In recent weeks, the university had to switch to distance learning. If any of the lecturers have problems with configuring their computers or installing additional software, the volunteers are ready to help. All consultations are conducted over the phone in order to ensure that no one gets infected.

“The students know full well that our lecturers give high-quality knowledge, and they are ready to help configure any instruments that will help them get it,” explains Andrey Zlenko. “As a lecturer, I now have eight Skype sessions a day. I ask them why they don’t want to use messengers, and they answer that live communication with lecturers is very important. Still, configuring the necessary equipment is not always easy. For example, we just had a webinar involving lectures from different universities, and it took over an hour to get everything ready! So, many lecturers may need help with that, and that’s completely normal.”

Other efforts

Apart from helping the members of ITMO.Family, the volunteers continue to work at the city’s charitable foundations and shelters that currently that are currently short of staff. At the same time, volunteers work in smaller teams as a precaution.

“In collaboration with the “Starost v Radost” (“Old Age in Joy”) foundation, our volunteers call the elderly at residential care facilities so that they won’t feel abandoned. We also continue to work with animal shelters, as they are in desperate need of help during these difficult times,” comments Alena Tarasova.

The staff of the Volunteer Center also note that their volunteers are ready to get involved in any other work that would be deemed necessary.