Günter Iwannek - "I am happy when I can make a difference"

Hans-Günter Iwannek and his wife

Although Hans-Günter Iwannek has been a pensioner for twelve years, he is not retired. In his many voluntary activities, he still takes care of the well-being of his fellow citizens – unimpressed by the nerve paralysis in his left side of his body, which is associated with spasticity. „I am happy when I can make a difference,“ he says proudly.

For example, the 71-year-old is active in the church community and on the Rotthausen district council. He has lived here for 20 years and appreciates it: „This district is still pretty intact. We have a wide range of retail outlets. I have literally settled in here.“

His editorial contributions, which he writes for the „Rotthauser Post“ and „GE-Nior, the magazine for the young at heart in Gelsenkirchen“, are very popular. He benefits from the fact that he is well connected, and not just as deputy leader of the social democratic „AG 60+“. „We take care of the concerns of the over-60s within the party,“ says the lively pensioner, „we help where we can.“

Iwannek is a member of the Prevention Council, which brings together the police, public order office, politicians and the „Rotthauser Netzwerk“. The council meets once a week, for example at the AWO neighbourhood centre. „ We from the district initiative ‚Rotthauser Netzwerk‘ want to see results and often check up on things.“

The motto of the „Rotthauser Netzwerk“ is also „We care!“ The network is supported by the city. The participants come from a wide range of professions, have a good overview of the district and help to make it more attractive – for example through music festivals on the market square, events or a new boules court.

The pensioner can play on this boules court himself, even though he is limited in other sports due to his disability. „I have a lot of strength on the right,“ he explains. As a member of the Versehrtensport-Gemeinschaft Gelsenkirchen (VSG), he also uses the bowling alley, for example.

At school, he was always picked last in the sports teams – „that hurt, of course.“ His severe speech impediment also did not make it easier for him to get along with the other children. Things got better as he got older. „The two-year business school and the recognition in my training and job boosted my self-confidence. That is why I did not give in.“ As an industrial salesman, he managed the accounts department of a clothing company for a long time and then worked in a managerial position. Before he retired, he was HR manager at a construction company.

At the age of 40, he still managed to pass his driving licence test with some effort. „But it was worth it,“ reveals the outgoing senior citizen. „It made me very mobile.“

In addition to his successes at business school and at work, his long-term partner and her family also contribute to his happiness. Iwannek: „I’m happy to be able to be active. But you have to have the will to do it!“

His tips for someone who also has to live with a disability: „Don’t hide away and complain. Try to fight it!“ You should clearly articulate your needs and accept help when it seems appropriate. „You should find a healthy balance in your behaviour towards other people so that they do not feel offended. I do not want pity.“

Hans-Günter Iwannek will receive an NRW volunteer card in 2020 for his voluntary work at the Gelsenkirchen/Bottrop Workers‘ Welfare Association. An NRW Volunteer Card is awarded to anyone who volunteers at least 250 hours a year and has been volunteering for at least two years.

„Don’t hide away and complain. Try to fight it!“