Istat, together with the Foundation Volunteering and Participation and CSVnet, experienced last year for the first time in Italy the measurement of economic and social value of volunteering.
In our republic of complaints, claims sterile, oblivion of hope, there are boys and girls who decide to use their free time to others. So far nothing new. These people discover every day that do good to others means have it even to themselves. There are also studies that count them, measure them, probing them, interview them, tell them. Well, very well.
The numbers are nice, synthesize, captivate, fascinate, affect printing. But hide, too often, the real web of value that exists behind social commitment. For this before you get to the numbers, let’s start with a story.
Mylene is a girl living in Lucca, does a lot of things and one in particular was very passionate. Decided to volunteer with the Red Cross and chose to bring a breath of energy to the elderly care home. On Sunday morning he wakes up before his peers and heads for the senior center. In there there are people no longer independent for reasons of motor difficulty or cardio-respiratory, or to degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and other Parkison.
Or you are simply just.
“So what can I do?” -you Asks Mylene. “Not much, but what little I try to turn it to the fullest. I remember my paternal grandmother. He has always lived at home with my family, it was part of my family. Her eyes shone when I walked into his room, he was to play cards or to take her out to make a turn. But even if I did not do anything about this, she looked at me with eyes shining. “
In the senior center in some guest is given a doll. “This vision -racconta Mylene- still troubled me much the first time I saw her. It made me feel like a sense of degradation of human dignity. As if the doll was a palliative affective. These people see nothing but their suffering reflected in the eyes of the other. They are like mirrors reflecting the discomfort of others. So I think our presence, mine and that of my fellow-colleagues, is very useful. Why do we enter a part of that game of mirrors and occasionally give way to reflect different images and to postpone different emotions, able to cheer these hours that usually run punctuated by wailing and medicine. “
Basically they are also a medicine. They come loaded with good humor, positivity and smile, so smile always available. Mylene runs for months nursing homes and senior centers of Lucca. In each of these has made friends with a few old men. Play bingo. “Believe me that being with them, look them in the eye, give him a smile, a word of encouragement and cheer along with their numbers is invaluable …”.
Mylene though he sensed something else. That there is a powerful tool to open doors and windows of that place, to nourish the souls graying of age and infirmity: reading.
“In one of the centers usually harbor the newspaper and a book. On Sunday morning there is also putting on television and so many gentlemen are watching TV in the other room. But who does not feel like going into another room to sleep or rest a bit ‘in the chair. Not that they really sleep, it is quell’appisolamento that comes by itself when you do not have much to do. “
“Then I go into this room and greeting everyone loudly so that they wake up and smile at me to see me. Few, 6-7 people, but are now almost faithful users of readings. I want to specify that not everyone really listen, some do not feel right, but they are only there because there is a person who tells of things. They look at me with curiosity, often then when I look up from the book find them quietly asleep to the sound of my voice. But some time ago I had a funny thing and beautiful at the same time. It was April 27, the feast of Santa Zita, I decided to bring like reading the diary of Don Palmiro Bianchi, rector of Monsagrati in the province of Lucca. Since our Santa Zita was just in his native Monsagrati Alto, I thought it would be cute to read those pages where the priest told, in fact, the celebrations of the Holy. “
The diary of the parish priest “priest” lasts for all his priestly activity, from before the Second World War in the late ’70s. These pages bore witness to the lives of people of the country from his point of view, then by the rhythms of Vespers and the Masses.
“I’m still -racconta Mylene- a source of incredible memories and suggestions for these elderly gentlemen who lived through those years on their skin, which thus have a personal memory. But these pages are also the witness of a simple and peaceful country reality shocked by the onset of World War II. For me to read those pages was very exciting because it mentions the names of people I know, are often my direct relatives and what happened that my grandmother had told me in turn. “
One Sunday morning Mylene goes to the senior center in Santa Maria del Giudice, a town on the road connecting Lucca to Pisa. In the room there are six seniors, others are on television.
Start reading. Shortly after entering the room a man younger than 73 years, “all in the head him.”
Mylene begins reading the diary of Don Palmiro Bianchi. The Lord breaks down, you wonder why the “priest” was the uncle of his mother. Start a mixed story, in which the readings of Mylene alternate with stories of ladies who lived exactly firsthand all that history. The mix of story awakens even more listeners. Shortly after entering an old lady accompanied by her son in his sixties.
“The funny thing is that -racconta Mylene- known what I was reading, after having seated the mother sat sitting there in the room too, very interested in reading, and slowly realized that it was an educated person, very well prepared on the legislation and regulations that existed at that time. It came out as a discussion of many voices, or rather a sort of “meeting-study” on the customs and traditions of the war years and after the war, the years of the youth of our elderly gentlemen present, on the basis of memories and notes an old priest for more relative of my grandmother and great-uncle of one of the guests of the Senior Center and then he sprung a tangle of relationships and interesting source of insights. “
“It was lunchtime when I left. People embraced me with the bright smile, wondering when I would be back, as exchange values that morning. “
Let Mylene to his stories, thanking you for sharing with us this simple and light experience. Now we look at those cold data were talking about at the beginning. Istat, together with the Foundation Volunteering and Participation and CSVnet, experienced last year for the first time in Italy the measurement of economic and social value of volunteering, the form of the International Labour basically.
In addition to quantify what would be voluntary if it was working, it was explored among a representative sample of Italian respondents the theme of its reasons. The question as simple as complicated because Mylene Sunday morning you get up early and go by his old men?
If you have strong motivation to “believe in the cause championed by a group” and “make a contribution to their community,” stirs up the action by about 60 and 40% of the volunteers, the result is just that feeling of well-being that Mylene test when exiting the Senior Center if he goes home. “The 49.6% of the volunteers -spiegano ricercatori- that lends its activities within an organization feels rewarded for their work and then claims to” feel better about himself. “
According to the organizations that have experienced the measurement of economic and social value of volunteering, “organized voluntary activity is also confirmed as a space in which it develops the network of relationships, produces a widening of social relations for 41.6% of the volunteers active in groups and organizations and helps improve social skills for 21.8% of them, with a maximum of 30.1% among students as Mylene.
Volunteering is not the only salvation of Italy. Who does not a hero or a god. It is a social phenomenon subject, like all other limits, flaws, inefficiency, exploitation. The rhetoric of the heroes there never will belong. But if we look at the heart and substance of values you can fill those numbers that measure a little ‘aseptically.
Here they are the numbers, but with the heart inside. Tell if known how to read, that you live in the Italian voluntary, and are told, for years now stories and experiences full of humanity and of small innovations.
Trigger mechanisms of trust, make people better. Widen, especially, the canvas of social relations in worlds subject to crises of all kinds are the only real wealth that will not wear, but is regenerated. Are the gold in the third millennium.
If we look at the world through this lens that lends us volunteering, such mechanisms tell a lot about how a hope for the future arrivals from new development models that create jobs, opportunity and prosperity for those who take a different view of himself and of the company. For those who accept the challenge of living by connecting their intelligence, and their hearts, to others.
This volunteering can tell Italy and the world. If there seems little.