A look at the community around us.
By Annalucia Scotto di Clemente / Matthew staff || Edited by Eleonora Prior
From the beginning, I have always defined JCU as a path of life. A path of life that went beyond simple academic teaching and in fact, I was not wrong. JCU can be experienced in many ways. You can choose to attend only classes, you can choose to attend classes and conferences, or you can choose to touch every aspect that the university offers to us, such as job opportunities, orientation, knowledge and volunteering.
I have always felt extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend this university and from day one, I promised myself that I would do everything I could to take advantage of every single moment. In keeping with this promise, from my first week at JCU I joined the volunteer group that helps the city of Rome and the people who live in the city on a daily basis.
JCU Community Service Program is a great team led by Julia Del Papa, a woman of a rare sweetness and cordiality who always welcomes you with a smile. At her side is Arianna, a kind girl always ready to answer every question and satisfy every need with care and availability. Every Monday of the semester, at 9 a.m., they send an email to the students with a list of the different activities of the week and each student can choose among the activities he or she prefers. The activities take place from Monday to Friday with alternating hours between morning and afternoon. Volunteers can participate in various activities such as cleaning the streets of Trastevere or cleaning the beaches, preparing and distributing breakfast and dinner, and finally, participating in meetings that are intended to help people practice spoken English or simply to keep them company by speaking or playing board games.
Believe me, volunteering is nothing complicated. There is no need to have experience or special skills, what matters and what makes the difference is the desire to do good and to help the community around us. Even if we are lucky or if we are simply fine, we must not forget that there are people around us who need support, understanding, and, sometimes, simply need to spend the time that they themselves are trying to figure out how to live. Every time you participate in one of the activities I have listed, you will meet dozens of people in difficulty. People who have nothing, have nowhere to sleep, where to return in the evening, where to eat and where to build their future. You will meet people who have lost everything; some of these people will be angry with the world and they will give you the impression that everything is due to them, other people instead, they will thank you with all their strength for what you are doing and will be grateful for even a simple hot coffee you are giving them.
The JCU community service is a great team that welcomes everyone and makes everyone feel part of the team from the first moment. Personally, I took part in almost all the activities proposed during the semester but there is a particular place that has captured my heart: Centro VO.RE.CO. The center where JCU students help volunteers was opened in 2012 with the goal of donating a warm meal, human warmth, a word of comfort and a smile. But the association VO.RE.CO has a history that begins from further away, precisely in 1978, founded by P. Vittorio Trani. The acronym VO.RE.CO stands for
“Volunteers Regina Coeli “ and includes volunteers who work for the prisoners of Regina Coeli, their families and victims of crime. The association currently has 110 members, who collaborate closely with the chaplain for all interventions both religious and material and moral support of prisoners.
The volunteers of VO.RE.CO have two operational spaces: the prison and the reception center “Vo.re. Co.”, open in Via della Lungara. The VO.RE.CO reception center is a support point for volunteers who work inside the prison (storage for linen, food storage, spaces for training meetings) and for the reception of ex-prisoners and people with difficulty in the territory. In addition, there are many services that the center offers: accommodation, breakfast, dinner, street surgery, patronage, lawyer, psychological support, clothes and medicines. In short, every volunteer gives his best and tries to satisfy every need.
You know, right at the entrance of the center, there is a sign. On this sign is the following: “Every time you come in here you will find charity.” And that’s exactly what it is. Once inside the center, each volunteer welcomes people with the sole purpose of helping them. There is no judgment, no pretense and no volunteer waits to receive something in return. Everything that is done is done with love for others, a love that I hope I have transmitted to you through these simple words. When I serve hot coffee in the morning, 90% of people thank me and wish me a good day with a huge smile and grateful eyes. But the reality is that I have to say thanks to them because very often we lose the smile for futile reasons, or we get angry because the so-called “plan A” is no longer good forgetting that there are a thousand other plans to create. In short, 90% of people will make you understand the value of small things and you will return home with a heart full of joy.
Dear readers, my wish is that you may always look around, knowing that you must look beyond appearances and beyond your comfort zone. I wish you the opportunity to get involved and discover how beautiful it is to do good and to be an integral part of a community. But above all I wish you to meet in your life people like Abdel, Angela, Simona, Graziano, Julia and Arianna. They are people who always work with a smile, who never weigh time and who are the people who every day give concrete help to people in difficulty. These people are the organizers and pillars of the VO.RE.CO. They are all people to have as an example for their wisdom, determination, friendliness and sweetness, values that should never be taken for granted.
All that remains for me is to invite you to become more and more part of this great community and to share with us the reality of human stories, sometimes incredibly difficult stories to see or hear but they are true life stories from which we can always learn.
“Wherever you go, go with your heart.” (Confucius)