If You Want to Be a Volunteer

If You Want to Be a Volunteer

There are many people in the studio who can call be called by one word—“volunteer.”

They have a lot in common: the desire to help children and graduates; an understanding of how important their participation is to the children with whom they interact; and a willingness to give of themselves, in their spare, time, for free. They also share many differences in terms of: age; education; occupation; financial situation; cultural background; and quantity of time to spare.

Some have been working with us for years. They teach master classes, conduct training and seminars, tutor students and alumni, lead our children on trips, organize celebrations, prepare food for the children and older graduates, and simply come hang out with the children. They also participate in the classrooms, invite children to their homes for the weekend, participate in painting murals in orphanages and hospitals, repair computers and furniture, and drive children to medical appointments. Yes, you name it! Our volunteers do it all! By the way, many of the pictures you see on our site were taken by volunteers Oksana Yushko, Arthur Bondar and Alexandra Dmitrieva.

If you would like to work as a volunteer in our center, we would be very pleased to have you!

You can lead classes for children or adults, teaching them subjects you know well and skills you possess. It could be something new for us, and not necessarily art-related! For example, in past years volunteers have taught English, Italian, Spanish, French, photography, art history, and the history of cinema...

You can simply engage with children in the classroom, helping them, and, most importantly, communicating with them. As some of our volunteers have, you might form a special friendship with a particular child, and then invite him or her home with you for the weekend or a holiday. For children who have never lived in a home, such “guest experiences” are priceless—even if you are not planning to adopt or take the child under your wing. The crucial point to understand is that you could be the FIRST ADULT EVER in this child’s life to to give him or her individual attention.

You can teach kids to cook, ranging from simple everyday meals to complex festive dishes.

We always need tutors in different subjects for graduates of residential schoolsthat prepare students for colleges and universities, and to help them pass the national unified exams after the 9th and 11th grades. Graduates of residential schools have extremely weak preparation for such exams, with many large gaps of knowledge in basic school subjects. Some, however, strive to continue their education, and they are motivated and hard-working.

Boarding school graduates also need help in finding jobs and dealing with everyday legal problems. Furthermore, they can need psychological assistance. Young people often do not know whom to turn to with their problems and questions. They need advisers and mentors they can consult in the event of difficulties and problems in everyday life.

We often need “skilled hands” in a variety of areas—furniture repair, plumbing or wiring, hanging paintings at art shows, etc., etc.

If you have personal transportation, you can sometimes help us to bring a small group of young people with disabilities (2-3 people) to a class.

You can help us translate our website and other texts in foreign languages, and we often need designer printing services or legal advice.

You can participate in painting wall murals—just send us an email asking to be informed when such activities are planned, and we’ll invite you when it’s time.

You can also contribute something different, something of your own!

Our Volunteers Say:

Lydia Prokhorov

Student at Moscow State University, VOLUNTEER:

“The door to the studio—it's not just a message board with a handle; for me it became a real teleport into the magical world of "Maria’s Children" ...

Boom! And dull, sad colors transform into bright and sunny ones!Dreams start coming true... One smile and the pain of one is shared by all...

I am very pleased that children who come to the studio find this teleport.

Educators say children here feel free and open up. Here you don’t just expect a class with a particular number (5A or 7B), rather you wait for concrete individuals: Vova, Lisa, Maratik, Andrey, Ira.Here they’re loved for who they are, what they will become, and what they create along the way (although, in fact, it amounts to the same thing). Here they answer any children’s questions, and show them—teach them—that which they have not had a chance to see. Before your very eyes you can see the children’s art transform and evolve: first paintings done fresh from the orphanage are often done in dark green with black castle doors... But then they begin painting huge smiling suns, rainbows and happy, kind clowns.

I’m also glad that Maria’s Children travels to some children who cannot make it to the studio, those who are in hospitals or in certain far-off orphanages...

"Maria's Children,” in my eyes—is a lifestyle, a way of looking at the world, a big family. It’s courageous to not turn away from others’ problems (and really, how are they not ours, too?), and even more courageous to start solving them, as creatively as possible, with a smile ...

Natasha Feldman


I have been coming to the studio for about 3 years, and I like it here. There are so many different ways that adults, children and adolescents work here. It’s amazing how everyone lives here as one big happy family. There’s a feeling that the more you come here, the more you discover interesting, important and more complex ways to become involved. It feels a bit like we all work together, despite the fact that most people here are volunteers, and we can’t even imagine our lives with the studio. You always want to come back here.

I like the idea of travel—that the studio is always in motion, going somewhere such as Seliger or Svyatogorovo, and even traveling abroad. When we take the bus, driven by our Beno, it feels like a big theater on wheels.

I took the children from Residential School #4 on a tour of Bulgakov’s Moscow. Children who come to us paint a lot and make music, but topics related to literature are bit pushed to the side, since our teachers simply do not have time for this. And yet—here was an opportunity, since they had just seen the film “The Master and Margarita.” Even if they hadn’t read the book, they had all seen the movie. It was incredibly interesting for me, because they had such lively reactions to it—the group was made up of 13 and 14 year olds. I take a wide variety of groups on excursions, but I really love working with adolescents because they get excited by everything. We stopped in a doorway, and I told them that it was a sacred place, and that if they made a wish, it would absolutely come true—andthen they all immediately began to write down their wishes and take pictures of the walls. I’d like to go somewhere else with them; they never get tired and they’re ready to learn anything new because they enjoy it so much.

Natasha Sidorova

Student at The Pedagogical University, VOLUNTEER:

"Maria’s Children"—these words mean a lot to me. It’s a big part of my life. I am thankful that fate has had it that I have the opportunity to know these people. Any event “Maria’s Children” does for children is a true celebration. The organization inspires us and gives us strength to continue to live, work, and study.

And summer trips—they’re a miracle! Children arrive and feel as if they are in paradise! They realize why we humans are alive—and that we need to help one another, and to be kind, open and empathetic.

All year long children go there to draw, and toarrange auctions and exhibitions—andthey understand the significance of what they do. I am very glad to be involved in a small way.