December 2016

Six Years of Serving in Geneva

Serve the City International Board member and STC Ireland leader Alan McElwee recently visited with STC Geneva and returned with the following report:

“Six years on and STC Geneva is still serving the needs of people in their city. My recent visit there (second last weekend in Oct) allowed me to reconnect with Gary Vannatter again since the Berlin International Forum (2014) and to share with him more current developments of our movement and our Amsterdam Resolution (last weekend in Oct). This being my first time in Geneva, I also got to see what serving in French speaking Swiss culture looked like. 

Carlton and Shannon Deal lived and worked in Geneva prior to Brussels so with these strong relational bonds in place, STC Geneva started pretty soon after Carlton visited and shared about STC Brussels. Gary and 11 others then formed a strong launch team as they figured out how best to understand the needs of their city and engaging volunteers. In a city of wealth, these needs are not always obvious but over time their Committee developed relationships with those helping the poor and those seeking refuge. Soup runs and food collections remain a feature of STC Geneva, serving people in their city. A current opportunity with Yale University graduates living in Switzerland means their volunteer project pipeline remains strong over the coming six months. 

Gary also shared some of the challenges the team face within Geneva and Swiss culture: ‘volunteering is not seen as necessary when the city ‘takes care’ of all the (social) needs’. Therefore benefits and impacts of volunteer mobilising organisations like ours, are not readily appreciated. Good Volunteer Management practice is therefore unappreciated and it may take non-Swiss HUB cities to help elevate Training and Development of Project Leaders, for example, within this cultural context. As I ended my visit with Gary, I shared one thing mentioned at our AMS IF – that healthy things grow”

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