What is kindness? Six stories that will help answer that question

What is kindness? Six stories that will help answer that question
Photo: Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service. Yevgeny Samarin
Repairing cell phones, touching up photos, charging electric wheelchairs and playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with children. Always a helping hand from My Documents workers.

Last December, the Sincere Service project marked its anniversary. Thanks to the new attitude taken towards their jobs , workers at the centres now provide quality and professional public services and every customer can expect to be helped sincerely. Results of the Acts of Kindness year-long contest were summarised to mark the first important date. My Documents workers shared their stories about how they helped customers.

Mos.ru selected six stories out of more than 1,500. We can learn something from each one.

Yevgeniya Khlystova: You always try to do more than you are supposed to, to help each person

Lead Specialist, My Documents in Kotlovka

Yevgeniya Khlystova

This story of kindness happened on a Sunday night. A mother came in with her sons and a two-month-old daughter to apply for benefits. As she was filling out her application forms, the boys started to get naughty and rather loud. When we suggested that they go to the children’s play corner, they refused and reacted just like my child who usually says: “I am not a child anymore.” Then I remembered that the day before I’d received a delivery from an online store with two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles masks for my nephews. We ran this idea by the boys’ mother and got her approval. Now it was time to talk the elder boys into it. My colleague and I stood next to them so that they could hear us and started talking about activities on the third floor where youngsters can now make paper swords and masks. One of the boys asked if they could play with us and the next thing we know is we were all wearing masks and making things out of paper.

Our game attracted many children in the centre. We divided them into three teams and started playing. That day, our centre had an entire group of world defenders led by Ninja Turtles. We came up with tasks, riddles and saved Kotlovka residents. 

With a bit of imagination, we managed to engage the children in a game and give their parents an opportunity to fill out their documents without being hassled. This is what we call a sincere service.

I often have to deal with children at work. Sometimes, you have to win their interest over by showing them colouring books, toys and crayons. Sometimes you just need to sit down next to the busy parents and draw something with the child or tell them a story. These moments bring joy to both children, parents and us as well. It’s good that many of us are parents too and have a lot of experience.

Similar incidents happen every day and you always try to do more than your duties tell you, in order to help every visitor.

Yulia Pilyugina: We will continue the tradition of visiting veterans

Lead Specialist, My Documents office at VDNKh

Yulia Pilyugina

I was very inspired by stories of visitors who submitted photos and information about their relatives who participated in the Great Patriotic War, for the Immortal Regiment project. Of course, I could not just stand by and do nothing. My son and I decided to find out where the war veterans lived in my neighbourhood from the Veteran Council and visit them. We bought flowers and chocolate and went around the neighbourhood to greet and congratulate the veterans. You know, it was so pleasant to see their joy and gratitude. The veterans were sincerely surprised that somebody remembered about them and just dropped by. Not somebody from the Veteran Council, not schoolchildren but ordinary people. They invited us in for tea and spoke about the war, introduced us to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were also visiting.

I think we will definitely continue this tradition. My son was really touched by this. At first, he didn’t want to go but afterwards he suggested going again and taking his classmates with him. We’ll see what will come out of it.

Dmitry Logvin: In all My Documents offices we have an unspoken rule: Help people by anticipating their needs.

Deputy Development Director, Sincere Service, My Documents office

Dmitry Logvin

I was approached by a man who was born in Soviet Ukraine. In 1998 he received his tax identification number and everything seemed fine at first but out of the blue, the tax service notified him of a debt amounting to 30,000 roubles. I started searching for data and the programme found that there are two tax identification numbers issued for two passports of one person, an old passport and a new one. Every year, tax on his car, house and land were incurred on both the numbers. I could see that he was really bothered and worried. I called the tax service and the worker there told me that the man needed to file a request with the tax service. We found a form and filled out the request to cancel one of the tax numbers that was issued by mistake, and to cancel the charges. The man gave me his phone number and I am going to call him in a week to find out how the process is going. I like helping people like this.

At work, I often do more than I am expected to do. I think, it is a common practice for My Documents workers. By the way, yesterday a young woman asked me for help because her phone was dead. I found the model of her smart phone online and rebooted it using a combination of keys. The phone came alive. Yes, I could have told her to go to a mobile service shop. But in all My Documents offices, we have an unspoken rule: help people by anticipating their needs. This is not a public service centre but a human help centre. Helping others makes you feel good and the visitors are happy. What goes around, comes around and I believe in this.

Tatyana Kharchenko: I love helping people. It comes from the bottom of my heart

Sincere Service Assistant, My Documents office  at VDNKh

Tatyana Kharchenko

One day at the service centre in Lianozovo, we were notified about a visitor with restricted mobility waiting outside. I went out and saw a young woman in an electric wheelchair. She said that her passport, social insurance card and her wallet had been stolen. Moreover, her wheelchair’s battery was very low and to add to all this one of her wheels was flat. We plugged the wheelchair in so it could be charged, made some coffee for her and proceeded to work on her new documents. We helped her with the photos, application forms and fees. We even ordered a new tyre for her wheel online. The young woman was very grateful. It turned out she was about to go away to a rehabilitation centre and her trip was at the risk of being cancelled.

I usually keep calm when it comes to stressful situations as I understand that a person needs help and that I’m the one who can provide it. I don’t think about whether this help is my direct responsibility or not. On the contrary, everything I do at work is connected to my job duties.

Situations arise that have nothing to do with paperwork. For example, the other day a social worker came to us for help. The disabled woman she had been taking care of ordered a personal hygiene device online, a pretty expensive one. It cost 10,000 roubles. She wasn’t happy with the purchase and wanted to return it but the online store did not want to accept it back because the seal on the box was broken. We contacted the seller one more time and explained the situation. We asked him to do us a favour and he gave in. The social worker took the box to the storage facility and the old lady received her money back. Yesterday she called us to say thank you.

The little support on our behalf played such a big role. We do not just fill out forms but we really help people. I love helping; it comes from the bottom of my heart. After all, we want peace, happiness and kindness in the world – therefore, we should start with our own little actions.

Yekaterina Markina: We helped an old woman to get home

Sincere Service Assistant, My Documents centre in Zyablikovo

Yekaterina Markina

There was a situation recently. My colleagues noticed a pregnant woman who was standing in the middle of the room and weeping. We asked what had happened and offered help. It turned out that the woman had lost her passport and applied for a new one but her photos did not match the requirements. She did not have enough money on her but she urgently needed a new passport. Of course, we tried to do what we can. We scanned her photos, fixed and printed them. As a result, the woman received her passport and was very grateful to us.

Also, once a very old woman came in and said that she had lost her passport. The centre was already closed. When she realised it she started shedding tears. We tried to comfort her and she admitted that she can’t come again tomorrow because it’s very hard for her to move around. We took the woman home and told her we will send her a car the next day. Her concerned relatives met us at home. It turned out that the passport was not a problem. The woman would often get lost and forget where she was. That day, she went out and disappeared. Her family was really worried but then we brought her back. It’s good that this was how it ended.

Irina Astashkina: Public service centre visitors know that we will help 

Sincere Service Assistant, My Documents centre, Biryulyovo Vostochnoye

Irina Astashkina

About a year ago, a woman came in with a small child. We started talking and I found out that her name was Gulnara and she was a mother of three children. Not so long ago, her husband had received a horrible diagnosis and the entire family budget had been spent on his treatment. It turned out that the children needed winter clothes but the woman had no money to buy them. I offered to help. I told my colleagues and relatives about her. Of course, everybody wanted to help. We collected clothes for Gulnara and her children. We are still friends and she teaches my son, a second-grader. Gulnara is an English teacher. I am not the only person supporting her family. She received support from the entire My Documents centre where I work.

I meet a lot of people at work. Some people come for help or advice and we get to know each other. It is not difficult to provide a service and help with paperwork. But when you see someone who is confused and lost and you can help them, next time this person will come to you again. This is how we become small families. There is an opinion that just like many go to the same hairdressers because of the hairdresser, many people want to see the same person in a public service centre because they will always give them a helping hand.