Encouraging others to help

“That is what I really enjoy, getting other people motivated in doing volunteer work”

Andrea got in contact with Serve the City four years ago, when looking for a social engagement project for her colleagues at work. She likes motivating people to do volunteer work, to show them that they are capable of making the difference in someone’s life. She is well aware of the different expectations people have, so occasionally she works with other NGO’s to give her colleagues the variety they seek.

“There are two types of volunteers based on how they are willing to help” she says. On the one side there are the people who are willing to give money and on the other the ones giving time. Andrea connects these two ends, collecting financial resources for a project and a pair of hands who can help. “It is a balance because the ones that are not willing to give money can take the money someone else gives and do something with it.”

In addition to being the mediator between her colleagues and Serve the City, she is a project leader during the Big Volunteer Days. Through Serve the City Andrea really started to get much more deeply involved in volunteer work and began to set back her own barriers. She saw what she can do and how much she can help.

But Andrea’s influence on other people doesn’t stop there. She uses the connections that already exist in order to maximize positive outcomes. Andrea did a successful job last year bringing 60 kids from the International German School to Serve the City’s Big Volunteer Week. This week she gave a presentation at the school and now she is hoping to increase the number of children assisting at the event.

This social engagement project is, according to Andrea, for the children to see the other side of Brussels and to recognize how they can really help and make a difference in the community.

“The last days leading to the summer holidays, the schools have usually finished their curricula and to offer meaningful alternative, why not go volunteering?”

She notices that in these international schools the children live in social bubbles, in totally safe and controlled environments, and that is why she wanted to take them out of that zone. To make them conscious of the fact that not everything is as shiny and perfect as they see on a daily basis.

Some schools include in their curricula mandatory voluntary work, but from experience, Andrea knows this doesn’t always work. That is why she only reaches to the students that are really interested. The motivation is different and in the end, she reaches better results. “You can’t oblige someone to do volunteer work”, she says.

“For the children to see how they can give back and how they feel about giving back”

While talking with Andrea in her living room, her youngest child comes jumping and smiling with all the energy in the world. “She comes with me a lot into the streets. On Sundays we prepare sandwiches and we look for the people in need to give them something to eat.” Some Sundays, her daughter brings the toys she doesn’t use anymore and gives them to the children in need.

“When you are walking down the street and you see a homeless person you wouldn’t normally stop to talk to them, but once you have this powerful sandwich in your hand, you can start a conversation, and it is up to you to continue it.” The sandwich is the tool you need to start a conversation. It is clear to see the strong family value in this household. In giving back to the community. The kids at school have realized this too, and they bring toys and clothes of themselves to help. Andrea became a magnet for new volunteers, for new hands helping make the difference.

“I am volunteering because I am convinced I can change things”

“I do not think you can push someone to do volunteer work but some people need to be pushed just to see. Others are just afraid of taking the first step and others do not know that they are not only giving something but that they will also receive something back  in return.” And in the end, people are grateful to Andrea because of this; because it is an eye-opener.

Not only does Andrea lend a hand to the homeless, but also the ones that in the bare eye do not need help. She captures the volunteering potential in people and boosts it, and aids the regular citizen to value what they have. She helps people grow on empathy and consciousness of the positive footprint they can leave in this world.


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