Discover ways to help the community you are visiting or living in
Volunteering is about giving your time to an institution, community or social project that needs the skills you have to offer, without aiming to receive anything in return. What you get oftentimes back though, are feelings that are worth much more than any financial amount. In Rome, one of the biggest cities in Europe, there is no shortage of options for places where people can donate a little time and energy to help a greater cause.
Their mission: “Altruistic Rome” is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to introduce in Rome the concept of flexible volunteering. This new idea means that you can volunteer according to your availability, without having to ensure continuity. You can decide from time to time when you wish to participate. The organization believes that everyone should have the opportunity to volunteer for a cause they believe in, no matter how much time they have and how busy their life is.
Getting involved: Through their website database, they insert and update volunteer opportunities from non-profits, associations and third-sector organizations they work with that are looking for volunteers — based on time, place and type. RomAltruista builds and supports corporate volunteering programs for companies that decide to invest in corporate social responsibility, and helps citizens to feel part of a positive change in their city.
Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC)
Their mission: Operating in the crypt of St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church, in the heart of Rome, JNRC is a day center for refugees and asylum seekers to relax, learn, and receive advice in order to achieve their goals. As most of their guests are homeless sleeping in parks and main stations around the city, the JNRC offers a holistic approach with services from basic supplies, a relaxing atmosphere, legal and social advice, employment clinics, to language and skills courses, for nearly 250 people each day. They seek to address both the urgent needs of those just arriving in Rome, as well as the needs of those seeking to settle in Rome.
Getting involved: JNRC seeks highly motivated, compassionate, thoughtful, flexible volunteers that can take initiative and follow through with tasks. Volunteers should be willing to work as part of a non-competitive team, treat each guest with the utmost respect and dignity at all times, and be comfortable working in an environment with predominantly male adult guests, many of whom may be going through a hard time, homeless, isolated and just surviving their way through each day. Because training and orienting new volunteers take up a large chunk of staff time and effort, JNRC asks volunteers to commit to working to a specific schedule, for a minimum of three months, ideally six months. You can find more information about the organization and how to join on their website.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center (MTC)
Their mission: MTC is a non-profit organization established and directed by the Missionaries of Charity, the religious family founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, to be a unique and authoritative source of information on Mother Teresa —the nun of the poor, known throughout the world for her humanitarian work. Its aim is to promote genuine devotion to Mother Teresa and authentic knowledge of her life, work, holiness, spirituality, and message and also to safeguard her words and image from misuse or abuse.
Getting involved: Volunteers assist the sisters with the many acts of charity that keep their “Casa di Accoglienza” running —such as mopping floors, doing dishes, washing clothes, preparing for the midday lunch. This opportunity provides insight into the structures in place and services required of those who are sick or elderly and without a place to call home. You can find more information on where the organization is located and how to reach out on their website
Their mission: Retake Roma develops initiatives and projects aimed at the sustainable development of the city, with particular reference to the recovery, enhancement and innovation of public spaces, through collaboration with all components of society: public administration, institutions, businesses and non-profit organizations. In this perspective, Retake Roma favors the participatory re-appropriation of public spaces, teaches how to read the history of the city and mends it, keeps the cultural heritage alive, teaches how to recognize beauty, and strengthens the sense of belonging.
Getting involved: Make sure to follow their calendar of events to find out about upcoming events, and check the organization’s website to discover other ways to contribute on a daily basis.
Their mission: Sant’Egidio is a Christian community born in Rome, in 1968. Over the years it has become a network of communities that, in more than seventy countries around the world, focus on the peripheries and “peripherals”, bringing together men and women of all ages and conditions, united by a bond of brotherhood, and by a voluntary and gratuitous commitment to the poor and peace.
Getting involved: Volunteers can help in a variety of different ways, such as teaching English, providing legal assistance, and working with logistics at the community centers. Volunteers can also opt to serve at one of the retirement centers for elderly people or at welcome centers, doing a variety of different services —such as distributing food, clothing and medical assistance, besides information. On their website, you can find more information on how to reach out and they will get back to you shortly.
Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary
Their mission: The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is a cat shelter in Rome, Italy, that makes use of the ancient ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina by providing a home within them for around 150 cats. In addition to veterinary assistance, such as medical treatments and vaccines, the shelter’s main goal is sterilizing the cats —by spaying and neutering cats in order to control the feral cat population. The shelter is open to visitors every day. People can come in to meet the cats, and to browse souvenirs made by the volunteers at the shelter. All proceeds go towards the cats there, and donations, like these, allow the shelter to stay in operation. They also have many cats up for adoption, both real or distant, as they hope to find loving homes for many of the felines in the sanctuary.
Getting involved: Volunteers can help in a variety of ways, such as distributing food and helping to promote the organization to earn more donations—which are necessary for the continuation of the programs. In addition, volunteers can be “foster parents” for immature kittens that would be at risk in the shelter. You can have more information about the shelter and how to help on their website.