Svetlana Grigorieva: “There is only recipe for success: trust”

28 august 2021

Our August issue continues our tradition of introducing readers to the various charitable foundations that are being led by our long-time friends, ambassadors of the Formula for Good Deeds program. This time, we invited Svetlana Grigorieva, Ambassador of the Formula for Good Deeds in Tomsk, to tell us about her Foundation, known as "An Ordinary Miracle".

Svetlana, you used to work for Tomsk’s leading media outlets. What prompted you to change your career path?

I had to leave the media world because the company I had been employed by ceased to exist. After working with a fascinating and creative team on TV, in 2015 I was offered to try my hand as head of a charitable foundation.

The foundation was set up in 2008 as a follow-on to the eponymous TV show, "An Ordinary Miracle". The show’s hosts discussed how viewers could take part in helping needy families. In the beginning, the hosts would simply read out home and cell phone numbers of sick children’s parents so that those who wanted to help could contact them to give them money directly.

The Foundation’s management approached me on their own, since we had known each other from before. I accepted their job offer because the Foundation needed a leader who would ensure the organization's stability. And I knew that by doing that I could help more people.

Svetlana, could you please tell us about what kind of assistance your Foundation provides?

Our main focus is on providing targeted assistance. In addition, year in and year out we’ve been implementing projects that help children with disabilities to better adapt to living in a society or convalesce through engaging in sports and exercise. As of today, we have been pursuing 10 such projects.

Just to give you an example, we have been partnering with the Formula for Good Deeds for several years now and our project titled An Ordinary Miracle, the Charity Marathon, has already won several grants. This goes beyond just helping children. It is also about developing volunteering in our region and making local residents realize that there are people who need our support.

You have been approached by families with children who are afflicted by various health problems asking for your help. In what cases does your foundation make a decision to provide such assistance?

Our main objective is to provide help without causing any harm. We only apply evidence-based methods with proven effectiveness approved by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. All requests that come our way are thoroughly checked and processed.

Before a family is found to be entitled to take part in a fundraiser, it goes through an experts’ evaluation by invited doctors (including a psychiatrist, a neurologist, a rehabilitation therapist, an epileptologist, a psychologist, and a development therapist). If a child really needs help that is not currently provided by the state, we decide to accommodate their family’s request and provide our help.

We have not had any cases of outright denial, as we always try to find an alternative solution or go to colleagues from Moscow-based foundations who manage to raise more money and specialize in offering highly specialized treatment methods.

Svetlana, how do you work with the families of your wards? Do you provide any support for their parents?

It is important to find the right approach to every family to ensure that no one leaves us frustrated or disappointed. It often happens that when a child gets born with a disability or health problems, their parents are left to deal with this problem on their own, whereas our programs help them find proper bearings in their lives. For example, one can attend classes at our School for Parents of Special Needs Children, or leave their child for three hours at the foundation in the care of babysitters from our "Peredyshka" project. We don’t just do fundraisers, we do a lot of other work. It is important for us to provide quality help, that's why we clearly follow specific guidelines and do our work accordingly.

Do you keep in touch with the kids after they grow up?

Of course. We have been helping children from their date of birth to when they come of age at 18. We have been keeping track of our charges after they grow up. They take part in our various projects such as the Open World project involving visits to theaters, museums, exhibitions, attending master classes, skiing and skating classes, getting involved in performing adaptive physical exercises, swimming at the pool.

Thanks to the projects that are being implemented by our foundation and other similar foundations alike, children are not left alone after they turn 18. As part of our "Miracle Sports: New Opportunities" project, last year saw athletic courses being increasingly attended by now grown-up kids.

Is there a special secret to running a successful social project?

There is but one secret of success. It is winning the trust of families with special needs children. It is vital to understand the needs of our target audience instead of just devising a project for the sake of having a project.

How did the situation with the pandemic affect your foundation’s operations? What challenges did you have to endure?

We had started to digitalize our operations even before the pandemic struck. We had held more than two dozen concerts before we realized that we could conduct our fundraisers online. As a result, we didn't run into any particular difficulties, unlike musicians and stage performers who were forced to give concerts without seeing their audience. Our fundraising volumes somewhat slid down during the first week of the lockdown, but then we went completely online and everything got back to normal.

How can one help your foundation and its wards?

There are different ways in which one can help us. One simple and straightforward way to help our foundation's charges is to donate money. There is a section on our website called Children that contains an up-to-date list of those who are urgently in need of help right now.

We greatly appreciate the help of our volunteers who help us with fundraising efforts for the benefit of our wards. Thanks to their involvement, we have a chance to get all of our city’s residents engaged in conscious charity efforts.

Further information about the Foundation and ways of helping it is available at its official website
at this link.

In case you missed our past issues:

  • About SIBUR's Moscow-based employees providing volunteering assistance to the Choose Life Foundation helping children with cancer and hematological diseases
  • Let's help renovate the Kind House for people with developmental disabilities
  • A chance for life for children with cerebral palsy
  • Marina Yefimova: “There are no trouble children, but there are hard life circumstances”.
  • Thinking of the elderly, we think of the future
  • By taking care of our elderly, we are taking care of our future
  • More donors mean more lives saved