Muhammad Ali once said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.’ Volunteering is a way to give back to a community and help others, but also to help yourself. Whether it’s serving meals to the poor or assisting the elderly, volunteering is guaranteed to bring a smile to more than one face. It is not only helpful but also necessary for volunteers to lend a helping hand in a world where so many people are in need. However, finding ways to volunteer in a foreign country and city can be difficult. Where should you even begin? If you’re looking for ways to give something back to the Florentine community, this list can help you get started.
Angeli della Città. Florence’s chapter of City Angels is dedicated to the protection of the weak and defenseless. Volunteers provide many services, ranging from civil protection and emergency care to the distribution of medicine and helping the elderly send mail or get to a bank machine. This organization prides itself on being available to anyone in difficulty. For more information, go to via Sant’Agostino 19 (Florence), call 347/0659208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meyer Children’s Hospital. One of the first hospitals in Italy devoted to pediatric care, Meyer hospital has become an integral part of the Florence community. Because of its status within the city, Meyer offers volunteer opportunities at one of the many organizations that operate inside the hospital. For example, A.B.I.O. is an association that helps children in hospitals; AIL’s mission is to combat leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma; and Archè is an organization that provides assistance to minorities suffering from HIV or AIDS. The Italian Red Cross is also an organization that accepts volunteers through Meyer. For details, see www.meyer.it, go to viale Pieraccini 24 (Florence) or call 055/5662316.
La Ronda della Carità e della Solidarietà. This volunteer organization distributes every evening sandwiches, hot beverages, clothing and sometimes even furniture donated by volunteers to Florence’s poor, elderly and immigrant populations. La Ronda needs seven groups of about 12 to 14 volunteers each to help with the gathering and giving out of food and other items. Those interested can contact the organization at via Assisi, 20 (Florence); tel. 055/7876007; email@example.com.
Creative Corner. Creative Corner is an association that aims to provide adults and children with access to courses in the English language, dance, music and the arts. Creative Corner also organizes many other community events. In 2010, the association helped children plant flowers in Piazza Savonarola in honor of Earth Day; and last Christmas it organized groups of holiday carolers. Creative Corner also participates in other activities around the city and is always looking for more helping hands. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 347/4841730 or stop by Creative Corner at via Fra D. Buonvicini, 17A (Florence).
Angeli del Bello. TF recently published letters to the mayor written by citizens who were saddened by the graffiti and litter in the streets of Florence. Would you like to get involved with cleaning up the city and making it a beautiful place for everyone? The Angeli del Bello is a program that encourages citizens to ‘adopt’ a part of the city that they will then care for and keep clean. Anyone can become an ‘angel of beauty’; those interested can see www.angelidelbello.org or email email@example.com. See Page 19 for details on the angels.
UNICEF. This organization is active all over the world working to safeguard the rights of children. They seek to protect and advance healthcare, education and protection for children. UNICEF relies on volunteers. In Italy, if you are 14 to 30, you can participate in the Younicef program, a volunteer initiative just for young people. UNICEF, however, also accepts volunteers of all ages. For details, stop by UNICEF Firenze on via dei Serragli, 188R, call 055/2207144 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dynamo Camp. For those who have a little more time to dedicate to volunteering and don’t mind traveling outside Florence, Dynamo Camp is a great option. This summer camp caters specifically to children with serious illnesses. Free for children between the ages of 7 and 16 living in Italy, Dynamo Camp offers an opportunity for ill children to enjoy childhood. Located in San Marcello Pistoiese, about an hour from Florence, the camp accepts volunteers as camp counselors. They seek ‘Those who offer affection, help and support often receive the same in exchange, often without even realizing it,’ says the camp’s website. For information, contact Dynamo Camp, via Ximenes 716, loc. Limestre, San Marcello Pistoiese; call 057/362171; or email: email@example.com.
Associazione Tumori Toscana. This association operates not only in Florence but in nearby Tuscan cities, such as Prato and Siena, offering free home care to cancer patients 24 hours a day, every day of the year. According to their website, the A.T.T. helps over 300 patients a day. For this non-profit organization, volunteers are essential. The A.T.T. accepts people of any age who would like to dedicate some of their time to helping homebound cancer patients. Volunteers can help in the offices, accompany doctors to patients’ homes, help transport patients to and from appointments and even help with fund-raising activities. For more information, see www.associazionetumoritoscana.it; pass by A.T.T. On via Benedetto Varchi, 63 (Florence); call 055/2466666 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Progetto Arcobaleno. Progetto Arcobaleno helps immigrants and the impoverished, as well as the female victims of human trafficking and sexual labor exploitation. The project provides legal advice and schooling in the Italian language for foreigners along with career guidance. Progetto Arcobaleno also manages flea markets that sell donated used clothing at low prices thanks to the help of volunteers. Get involved by contacting Progetto Arcobaleno on via Del Leone, 9 (Florence), see www.progettoarcobaleno.it, call 055/288150 or email email@example.com.
Still looking for ways to get involved? The website named after Paolo Coccheri, an influential Florentine theatre performer who started a school in Sicily for young people ‘at risk of the Mafia,’ provides information on other volunteer organizations. According to the website, the mission is to ‘awaken in every human hope and enthusiasm.’ Visit the website to read more about the opportunities available: www.paolococcheri.com; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 338/7433014.