Best Practice: Association “Ali d’aquila”
Parish San Filippo Neri, via Don Albertario 10 – Busto Arsizio
The association “Ali d’aquila” was officially born in 2009. It has been created by a group of youngsters between 18 and 25 years old, who has decided to fight actively against poverty in our city, helping homeless people.
During the previous years, many of these youngsters, belonging to the parish “San Filippo Neri”, had had the opportunity to know various charity realities; they went to Amazzonia and Albania, worked as volunteers in the canteens for poor people in Milan and visited other realities in which people try to cope with the problem of poverty and social exclusion.
After these experiences we wondered what we could do for our cities and what services we could offer with so few resources. Therefore, we got in touch with some organisations working in our town, such as Caritas, and we realised that a main service for the person’s dignity was missing: the possibility to wash. This was a service we could offer, because in the parish “San Filippo Neri” there are dressing rooms with showers (normally used for football training) that could be used on Saturday mornings.
Before setting out for our association, we went around the city, in the places where the homeless generally stay, such as the railway station and the entrance of the hospital. By meeting them, we have established a relationship of confidence that allowed us to start with our activity.
HOW IT WORKS
Every Saturday morning the association welcomes people who need to wash and to have clean clothes; our volunteers give them underwear, clothes based on availability and the necessary to have a shower. At the beginning we started offering them something to eat, such as hot tea and biscuits, but after a while we realized that it wasn’t enough. The increase of people coming for the shower was slowing down the “shower service”, so they had no time to reach the canteen. Today some volunteers deal with the preparation of the lunch. During the lunch, others are involved in the cleaning.
We believe that the first form of charity in not the shower itself, but listening to their stories and to their needs. We want to give them the possibility to have a chat and share some moments with us. This is, maybe, the real charity: to welcome who seems different from us and to love him as a brother. The important thing is to love the other for what he is and not for what we want he should be.
During the years we have improved the service and the number of volunteers has increased; we have also collaborated to projects with other organizations of our territory. In 2010 we became a NPO (non-profit organization) and we took part in the “VO.LA.RE project” about social cohesion promoted by CARIPLO Foundation. We lead “VO.LA.RE project” together with the “Sacro Cuore” Church in Busto Arsizio and the Forum of the Third Sector of Busto Arsizio and also with other associations which have decided to join the project. VO.LA.RE means volunteers who work together. It tries to face three contents: information, network and culture.
The first aim is to discover the level of poverty and the kind of needs which are present in our town. This is necessary to explain to the city council the real situation. Through this operation we hope to identify situations which absolutely require investment and suitable policies.
The second goal of the project is to create a net of services which include all associations of the territory, in order to work together without conflict or lack of interest. Working together also means to be closer in front of institutions, share information, competences and ideas and be much more known by citizens. Finally we think that creating a charity and solidarity culture is fundamental for the future of the associations. Articles, meetings, debates and publications can contribute to develop a free way of thinking about poverty, social cohesion and integration.
The association “Ali d’aquila” has decided since her foundation to cope with other entities present on our territory and with CESVOV(Centre for the volunteering service of the province of Varese). For that reason we decided to join with lot of passion the project “Associations, work, companies….we are in!”//”Associazionismo,lavoro,impresa…: Esserci!”, organised by CESVOV with the Dutch partner Lava Legato Foundation and financed by the province of Varese, the district of Somma Lombardo and the project “ProvincEgiovani” and promoted by the Department of Youth of the premiership of the Council of Ministers and the Union of Italian provinces.
We were immersed between channels and the beautiful and exciting atmosphere of a young, resourceful and extremely friendly city for three days. Rotterdam, a port city, is a place of exchanges, meetings and international relations. For that reason we left Italy to exchange our experiences of volunteering with the experiences of young entrepreneurs. The purpose of the trip was to find out how the issues, the ability to put into play, resourcefulness and enthusiasm are common both in the field of entrepreneurship and in the field of volunteering: voluntary work is a space where one can test his own abilities, and that’s why it can be considered a learning experience.
In the last few years the association has undertaken, in collaboration with other realities dealing with poverty, the establishment of a working group with the aim to promote the opening of a dorm, at least during the winter months, given the inadequacy of the dormitory of the St. Anne’s Parish, and of the waiting room of the rail station in Busto . After considerable effort we have managed to open a channel of communication with the local administration to solve the problem of those who sleep on the streets in winter. The Working Group is pursuing this objective strongly, however there are still many issues to be solved and an acceptable solution seems still far.
Volunteers are also busy with schools and students; in fact in the last few years we have had successful relationships with educational institutions and met young people who responded positively by collecting clothes and goods. From nearly a year a group of students participates in volunteer activities with their religion teacher.
Our Association invites everyone who wants to learn what we do to come and visit us every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in order to see, meet and know our reality. You can also help and support the Association by becoming a volunteer, giving clothes in good condition, long-lasting foods or through donations.
Turnout of homeless people in a month