The Privilege of Serving

The first volunteering experience that I vividly remember with Serve The City happened in 2015 when the refugee crisis in Belgium reached one of its most critical stages. A small group of volunteers went from Leuven to Brussels to help assembling an improvised nursery for the refugees who were settled in Maximillian square; none of us were experienced with construction, but we knew they were desperate for volunteers, so we decided to take the risk. Despite our lack of experience, the organizers welcomed us enthusiastically and soon we started moving wooden pallets around to build the “walls” for the improvised infirmary.

One of the things that struck me in that first experience was the loving care from the organizers towards our group of inexperienced volunteers who were trying (and sometimes not succeeding) to help. After learning more about Serve The City values, I realized that this appreciation came from their realization of the real meaning of volunteering: no matter how menial a task might look like, be it sweeping floors or washing dishes, when volunteers decide to help others what is being offered is the most important asset that we can give: a part of our own lives! And most paradoxally, by giving our lives away we find joy and contentment that we would not be able to reach if we’d be living just for ourselves. 

After that experience many others followed: painting schools and social centers, cleaning dirty streets in the city, gardening for elderly people, cooking for organizations that support underprivileged neighborhoods… small things together making a difference in the lives of the ones who we serve, but also for the ones who we serve with. Today serving is an integral part of my life and I’m sure even when I move away from Leuven, I will always feel deeply connected to the people of this city that became so dear to me, thanks to Serve The City. 

– Hugo, Project Leader, Serve the City
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