Community Outreach

Community service has many meanings in AWAR...

  • It begins in our own community - our members - with our Helping Hand program
  • It includes outreach in the American and English-speaking community in Rome
  • It extends into personal volunteering in the Italian community in our host city
  • It goes beyond borders by obtaining FAWCO grants for projects in developing countries

Volunteering

Person-to-person relationships are how we link with the Rome community. That is why hands-on volunteerism is an important part of our association. The various types of organizations where our members volunteer represent just some of their many interests. Below are a selection of them.

  • The CENTRO STUDI AMERICANI Library - Containing thousands of volumes in English on the history and culture of the United States, this library is used by Italian graduate students and professional researchers. http://www.centrostudiamericani.org
  • COMUNITA' SANT'EGIDIO - This international organization founded in Rome in 1968 serves the poor, immigrant and pilgrim populations while also acting in the world as a major force for peace.
  • GIRLS' TOWN - Founded some 50 years ago by an American priest, Msgr. Carroll Abbing, Citta' delle Ragazze, as it is called in Italian, houses teenage girls from troubled families, refugees and orphans. Volunteers provide English tutoring and mentoring.
  • Boys and Girls Town of Italy has a new video to mark its new site and the changes that are happening at Boys' & Girls Town - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxZ4vyh5xE0&feature=youtu.be
  • KOMEN ITALIA - Established in memory of Susan Komen and affiliated with the Komen Foundation of Dallas, the Italian association organizes the annual Race for the Cure in Rome in which the AWAR HEARTS Team participates.
  • CASA BETANIA - Casa Betania is a Family House established in 1993 under the auspices of the Dolfini family. It is now part of L'Accoglienza, a nonprofit cooperative. It is supported by the enthusiasm of a large group of volunteers and social workers.
  • THE SANTA SUSANNA LENDING LIBRARY - An English-language library for residents in Rome on the premises of the Santa Susanna Catholic Church attended by many Americans.
  • OASIS SAN GIUSEPPE AND SANTA TERESA - Fifty boys and girls, aged 3 to 18, who are orphans, destitute or taken by the courts from dysfunctional families, live at this institute located in the highest of the hilltowns near Rome.
  • THE TORRE ARGENTINA CAT SANCTUARY - Located in an ancient Roman square in the historic center, this volunteer-run sanctuary provides nutritional and medical aid to Rome's feline population, readying them for adoption. The Academy-award winning Italian actress Anna Magnani was often seen feeding them.
  • ALZHEIMER UNITI ROMA ONLUS - This association helps those afflicted by Alzheimer disease. AWAR contributed to the creation of a garden area for Alzheimer patients at an important Rome hospital and members utilized their bilingual skills to translate a comprehensive Training Program for professional staff developed in the U.S. and now used throughout Italy.
  • OASIS CELESTINA DONATI - This institute protects fifty children, ages 2 to 16, who are orphans, destitute or taken by the courts from dysfunctional families. AWAR has worked with these children for many years.
  • CARITAS - One of most important charitable organizations in Italy, Caritas endeavors to help immigrants and the homeless community
  • CASA DI KIM - This center provides temporary housing and support for families of terminally or chronically ill children who come to Rome from developing countries for critical medical care donated by doctors and hospitals here. 
  • VILLAGGIO DON BOSCO - Located in the town of Tivoli near Rome, this oasis was established in 1950 by a military chaplain in the Italian Liberation Corps during World War II. It houses boys aged 12 to 25 and is dedicated to providing these boys, from developing and war-torn countires, a chance for education.The boys live at the home and study and work in the nearby community.
  • ASSOCIAZIONE CANILI LAZIO - The organization's purpose is to become the most advanced recovery center for dogs in urgent need of help due to abandonment or abuse.

Fundraising

Although our main purpose is personal volunteering, throughout our history we have annually also provided funds to organizations with which we have long-standing relations or have selected for a single specific need.

  • Organizations assisting women, children and the elderly are the principle recipients of these funds which are raised through annual gala events at selected venues.
  • The highlight of our gala events is a silent auction offering a selection of exclusive items.
  • Some of these are generously donated by Italy's most famous designer names. Others are offered by our members who include many talented artists. Members also make available their vacation homes or provide a professional service. Original-design quilts stitched by our quilting group have also contributed to our fundraising activities.
  • In 2012, for its Support the Children fundraising efforts, AWAR received an award medal from the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.
  • Beneficiaries of financial asistance from AWAR include:

- Oasis San Giuseppe and Santa Teresa
- Oasis Celestina Donati
- Casa di Kim
- La Befana
- Differenza Donna
- Villaggio Don Bosco
- La Città delle Ragazze (Girls' Town)
- Alzheimer Uniti Roma Onlus

Christmas for Children

Christmas is a magical time for children. We try to make it so for those living in the institutions we support by organizing Christmas parties -- complete with Santa in full array. Although Santa is a relative newcomer to Italian culture, having been introduced in the 1940's, he quickly became the beloved figure known to our children.

Preparation for the parties begins months in advance when the names and ages of all the children are placed on a Giving Tree and circulated to our membership. Since choosing gifts requires understanding what each child would like, our own children often give us suggestions. We pay special attention that no child seems to receive more than another for they always look at each other's gifts. Many of them receive only the gifts we give.

A festive event should always include sweet treats so we bring homemade cookies and cakes. An edible gingerbread house topped with a colorful, candied roof is also a special enticement.

To complete the party we organize games, Christmas story-book readings, performances, music and face painting and Girl Scouts from our member-led activity group often give a hand with the entertainment. All combined we hope it makes merry and magic moments for the children.

Earthquakes

From north to south the Italian territory is seismically active and periodically there are dramatic earthquakes. Through its community contacts AWAR seeks to respond as these two different stories tell.

L'Aquila Earthquake

On April 8, 2009, an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude on the Richter Scale caused dramatic loss of lives and devastating damage to vast areas of the region of Abruzzi and its capital city, L'Aquila. The Civil Defense branch of the Italian government worked round-the-clock to assist victims and arrange temporary facilities for tens of thousands of citizens left homeless, but there is much to be done to bring normal life back to the area.

When there are natural disasters, large sums of money flow into government programs for major reconstruction work, but experience has shown us that we can activate our contacts in order to undertake small, helpful projects which are not included in those plans. One of our members had contact with an Italian architect, which led to a meeting with the Major of L'Aquila, Massimo Cialente. He identified the need for children's playground equipment for a newly constructed housing area.

Our sister American-international clubs in Italy - Florence, Genoa, Naples, Milan, Turin - also participated in this project as well as St. James Episcopal Church in Florence. The swings, jungle gym and slides have been installed and the new playground opened.

The Friuli Earthquake

It was a far different Italy which in 1976 faced the disastrous earthquake in the economically depressed northern region of Friuli. The Italian Civil Protection Department had not yet been established but volunteer groups from many countries came to help.

Our members collected funds and searched for a local contact to identify something useful for us to contribute. A member learned from the Baptist Church in Rome that Robert Holifield of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention had volunteers in the zone helping families that lost everything to rebuild. He described the use of the funds we gathered in these words:

"One of our primary objectives in assisting the earthquake victims has been to help re-establish the economic base for families which lost everything, or almost everything in the earthquake. We provided new houses for families who were living in cattle stalls in the most despicable circumstances. Yet, when the houses were completed, we realized that these families needed some basic equipment to help them produce marketable items for a part of their livelihood. So we constructed fireplaces for their homes which serve both for heat in winter and also for making cheese during the periods when milk is available from their animals. Your funds were used to purchase the materials for the construction of the fireplaces. The labor was provided by a group of young Swiss volunteers."

Development Grants

By connecting in the Rome community, AWAR has been able to bring FAWCO Foundation grant development awards to the following projects...

2008 - Batsiranai Handicraft Project - presented by an AWAR member who lived in Zimbabwe

Batsiranai is a women's handicraft project that supports mothers with severely disabled children living under challenging circumstances in Harare, Zimbabwe. In addition to living with extreme poverty, these families often suffer from stigma related to local beliefs regarding the origin of disabilities. This project allows mothers to provide food and housing for their families and meet the basic educational and medical needs of their special-needs children.

2004 - Hope through Education - A Malawi Orphan Support Project presented on behalf of Rome International School, Rome

In Malawi, primary schools are tuition free but not secondary schools. No matter how bright and well qualified, teenagers (usually girls) are often forced to drop out. This program pays tuitions for hardship cases, deserving students who cannot afford fees even if they amount to very little by Western standards. All of the funds go directly to educating students and purchasing school supplies and uniforms.

2001 - Chivuna Mission Rural Health Center, Zambia - presented on behalf of Marymount International School, Rome

Chivuna Mission Health Clinic serves a community of approximately fifteen hundred people in southeast Zambia. Women walk barefoot for hours to reach the clinic, and then wait patiently in line for up to half a day to have their babies vaccinated and weighed.

Zambia is a country in which life expectancy is just 37 years, which has lost one fifth (17 million) of its population to AIDS and where 700,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS. In spite of all the damning statistics, it is a country where people tenaciously hold on to hope for a better future.


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