There are those people who spend their whole lives doing one thing and there are those who are always looking for a new challenge. Dick Witte is without doubt one of the latter. That soon becomes clear when you hear how many different volunteer jobs he has done in his life. And still does, because if it is up to him, he will remain active as a volunteer for the time being.
Photography Karla Hoffman
In 1968 the young Dick started setting up and editing a school newspaper and organizing school parties. He couldn't imagine then that he would do this all his life.
Dick moved often and after volunteering at the Derde Wereld Winkel in Dordrecht and designing posters for a pop stage in Sneek, he ended up in Tilburg in 1983 as an unemployed single father. He soon became active at his son's primary school in Tilburg. He reported to the Baanlozencentrum, where he became involved as a volunteer in the Farcetheater (PR and programming). After this theater closed, he set up a theater agency, where he became an unpaid coordinator. Through all his volunteer work he got to know a lot of people in Tilburg.
In 1988, through Theaterbureau Zuiver Nylon, he was the initiator and organizer of the Third World Festival, later called Festival Mundial. He eventually joined that event. “I had a great time at Festival Mundial. One of my children was Popmundial on Saturday. Popmundial was all about attracting a younger audience. Not only starting bands came, but also national toppers such as De Dijk and Mother's Finest. After eight years, it was decided to charge an entrance fee for the Festival from now on. That was the reason for me to quit my job.”
Blood creeps where it can't go and sitting still doesn't suit him. That is why in the years that followed Dick started working as a volunteer at Festipet Udenhout (organization and programming), Straatkrant Allee (co-founder and editor), Poppodium Paradox (editors of the Unic newspaper) and Het Santstuiverfestival on Stuyvesantplein (organization and programming).
At the end of the 90s, Dick moved to Delft for his work and his volunteer work came to a halt for a while. About ten years later he got a job in Boxtel and decided to move back to Tilburg. From 2003 until his retirement in 2017, he worked for tennis club 't Zand (bar services), residents' association Theresia (founder, board member, organization of neighborhood activities), De Luisterlijn (telephone volunteer), Cinecitta (counter volunteer), Books4Life (board member and shop assistant), Quiet (editorial work) and Resto Van Harte (PR work).
After his retirement, he did not sit back. “I have been active for a few years for De Vriendschapsbank of ContourdeTwern (editorial and organizational work) and I am now a volunteer at Theater de Nwe Vorst (theatre supervisor), Neighborhood Mediation and Family Support at R-Newt Kids, both part of ContourdeTwern.
“If it goes well, I'm gone.”
Because of Corona, not only have many activities been lost in the past year, but also many volunteers. Many organizations struggle with this shortage. Dick hopes for a relaxation of the corona measures from September. Then he wants to spend about 12 hours a week with his volunteer work at the Nwe Vorst, Buurtbedrijven and Books4Life. There is no such thing as sitting still!
Dick likes to set things up. When that phase is over, he will look for a new challenge. He himself says: “If things go well, I'm gone.” The volunteer work has provided him with an enormous network and he especially likes that he stays in touch or comes into contact with young people. By now, all of Tilburg knows him and he knows all of Tilburg!
Photo by Erika Zeegers
Double win: for you and the other
According to Dick, volunteering has different functions: you feel useful, you stay among people and people look forward to you. “The best thing is if you can build a relationship with someone, if you can let someone else enjoy it!”
“As long as I like it, I'll keep doing what I'm doing now. My advice is to build up your volunteer work slowly. Do not do a lot at once, because it is not without obligation. Do something that you are good at, that you enjoy and that gives you energy. And remember: you don't commit for years, you can do a little shopping.”
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