Note: this article was originally posted on the Serve the City International website.
In 2018, Serve the City Brussels was engaged in a variety of events, projects and team buildings.
The goal of each of these serving opportunities was to put our values into action. This resulted in many memorable moments filled with humility, compassion, respect, courage, love and hope.
We asked members what their favourite moment of Serve the City Brussels 2018 was. Here are a few of the answers –
“In the summer of 2018, we took groups of volunteers to a park in Brussels called Parc Maximilien to interact with migrants living there at the time. The weather was good so we played basketball and football with them and got to know more about them. Their stories were moving and it was so inspiring to see how courageous they are. They have a dream and they are going for it.”
Sara Tchaparian – Projects Manager at Serve the City Brussels
“During our December Big Volunteer Day, I co-led a project with an organisation called Samusocial. We served at a refugee center for families and were responsible for socializing with the kids. We coloured, painted, and made Christmas decorations with them. One of the girls sat next to me and together we painted a snowflake to put on the windows. We started talking and bonded well so when we had to leave she was so sad and started hugging me, saying I was her best friend that she’ll never forget me. It made me sad to leave but happy that the bond happened and there was an impact there. I just hope in my heart that I made her happy, atleast for the few hours I was there. It was a very beautiful and sad moment for me.”
Paula Grammatikos – Intern at Serve the City Brussels
“The Mobile Library made huge progress in 2018. We started off very slow and in the beginning of last year we were just cataloguing and weren’t giving away many books. Over time the team realized that they needed to spend more time out and giving books away. We started taking boxes of books in the van to Parc Maximilien and started giving them out. The team really came together and now they’re going every week and the project went from more of an internal cataloguing process to getting books out.”
David Anderson – Member of the Serve the City Brussels Executive Committee, Project Leader for Breakfast for Refugees and the Mobile Library
“This year we were selected to organize the European Commission Volunteer Week and created space for 1000 Commission employees to volunteer within a week. It’s incredible what has been achieved and we had a week that went very smoothly. This is the biggest project that Serve the City has ever done and it may also be one of the biggest volunteering projects in Brussels. It was a very big challenge and what really struck me the most was the feedback. The majority of the participants had never volunteered before so it was so it was a chance for a lot of the people to encounter poverty and the needs of the city first hand. This might not be an opportunity they get on a regular basis so it left a huge impact. We have a lot of people coming afterwards trying to volunteer on a weekly basis or on a Big Volunteer Day. This impact that stayed was worth all the trouble – all the sleepless nights, all the vacations being cut short – all worth it!”
Jeremie Malengreaux – Office Manager for Serve the City Brussels
“It’s really hard to give just one highlight of the year! There have been so many high points! For me, I love going to one of our projects – Le Phare – every week where we serve a healthy meal to those who need it; who live on the streets or who are lonely. It’s a highlight every week but the highlight of the year was to be able to spend Christmas eve with the friends that we have at Le Phare. We made and ate a Christmas meal together at the end of the year. It was wonderful to share in a friendship with them during Christmas time and share in the warmth of a lovely celebration with music, songs and a warm meal.”
Marie Bennett – Assistant Director at Serve the City Brussels and Project Leader for Le Phare
“There are several! For instance, when looking at last year, the European Commission Volunteer Week – our biggest corporate event yet – reflected how Serve the City first started with a Big Volunteer Week and lots of projects in a day. This same format was now reoccurring in a different style and lot of people who normally would not volunteer because they are at work were now enabled, through a partnership with their work, to volunteer during the week. Sustainability and transformation happens when we combine reoccurrence and consistency to the projects we do. With some people, we only have one hour, with others we have one day, and with yet others we have a week before they come back again. But if we can make that one hour, that one day or that one week have the same kind of package, the impact for the person is meaningful. For the people we serve, it’s meaningful. The volunteers leave not only knowing their name but also connecting with their story and where they’re at. The volunteers know they were significant in that minute. ‘I am part of the serving process.’ That is what’s amazing. So, when we have volunteers for instance that only came once it’s not sad anymore because you know we’ve made a meaningful impact and connection with them.”
Osarumen Osama I – Project and Neighbourhood Leader at Serve the City Brussels