“We want to do more than just work from our office – we want to help revitalize our neighbourhood in other ways, too. So if you’d like help with your renovation project, we could come work as volunteers for one day…”. Those were the first lines of the email that we sent to the guys working on the inner courtyard project Vnitroblok in the neighbourhood of our new office in Holešovice -Prague.

You see, in all of the programs we operate at Via Foundation, we try to support people in giving back to their communities – not just money (which some people don’t have much of) but just as importantly their time and energy. We believe that giving your time and energy to community work makes you not only feel good, it also helps build strong ties among neighbours. And because we want to practice what we preach, we try to be useful as well, giving our time and getting to know our new neighbours.

We didn’t have many neighbours at our old address over at the Prague Castle. When we moved to Holešovice in late June, we began looking around the neighbourhood and lo and behold we discovered a number of fascinating people and initiatives practically on our doorstep.

Just around the corner we have a community garden called Prazelenina and a stone’s throw or ferry crossing away across the river is the outdoor site known as Přístav 186 00. We were very happy then to learn that a new site – Vnitroblok – is undergoing revitalization at the end of our street. It is a small building, a former factory several stories high that also served as a hostel and is hidden in the inner courtyard between other buildings. Over the past two months there’s been almost non-stop work at the site.

The team that has undertaken to revitalize Vnitroblok already have a number of successful projects under their belt: such as the Radlice Cultural Sports Hall (Radlická kulturní sportovna) and the Café Looking for a Home (Kavárnu co hledá místo). Vnitroblock is their third joint brain-child and based on the energy they have, it won’t be their last.

On the agreed date we set out early for our volunteer work day. We met at 5 a.m. in front of the Vnitroblock gates and none of us was too eager to go inside – it was damp and chilly and we couldn’t help thinking of our warm, cosy office. But it’s good to venture past your comfort zone, right? Kuba, one of the project leaders, had a list of jobs ready for us. It was not a short list.

They are hoping to open Vnitroblock in early November and our first thought upon entering was “there is no way they can make that date,”. But we set to work nonetheless, some of us spraying holders onto cables, our very precise program coordinator making templates for window panes and others removing old glue from floor tiles.

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After seven hours of work we went home, already looking forward to our next day in the office. Most of us caught colds whilst working and our hands hurt for the next three days. That’s office workers for you.

But we also left with a really good feeling about having a chance to help a good cause, meet some great people and see a new place in the making.

Vnitroblock will be opening soon and we highly recommend a visit – it will be worth it!

Written by Pavla Jenková, Program Manager, On behalf of the Via team