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Serve the City International commemorates one day a month to highlight a specific world-wide shared concern. October 10th is dedicated as World Homeless Day to bring awareness to the not just the situation of over one billion people, but also the solutions, ideas, programs, and many people tackling this at the local and global levels of society. Many organizations, political, grass-roots, NGOs, and many others take various measures to mitigate homelessness and shelter people without homes.

Here’s a story from Serve the City in Lisbon:

People in homeless situations have been the most important school of serving for Serve the City in Portugal. We started by offering an alternative to the traditional sandwich routes, via a Community Dinner. We thought that eating at a table, with linen, china and individual service was more dignifying and could provide opportunities for deeper exchanges between our “street” guests. In the beginning it was mostly about “us” giving to “them” but soon we realised we were being educated ourselves, all of us, starting with the volunteers.

For several years now we’ve been learning beautiful and impactful lessons on the importance of volunteering person-to-person, of the inclusion we can provide and receive, of giving and receiving, of seeking to be at the same level with everyone else, of cultivating the encounter as a way into belonging and change, of involving all kinds of people into the service of the table, including our homeless neighbours. In summ, Serve the City in Portugal (Lisboa, Porto and Coimbra) has been highly shaped by our shared journey with hundreds of people in homeless situation, which we have come to know by name, and with whom we build bridges side-by-side.

Our Community Dinners started in 2011, European Year of Volunteering, supported by funds from the European Commission. Right from the beginning our project was considered “flagship project for the European Year of Volunteering”. Since then we have gone from monthly to fornightly dinners, from 1 to 3 cities in Portugal, involving over 3,000 volunteers and serving an equal number of people in need, every year. The Dinners have been funded almost exclusively by companies. These gatherings are currently suspended, due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we keep the conversation rolling via phones, social media, and occasional “community picnics”.

Many of our STC cities do many kinds of projects for people experiencing homelessness, check with your local STC chapter find projects to know the homeless by their names. While there are many different ways to tackle the problem of homelessness, the key is that it starts with you, in fact Kindness Starts With You is the Serve the City theme for 2020. Below we have listed a few well written articles and resources that you can share with those around you.

Resources and helpful articles

A note to current STC city leaders, core teams, and volunteers: STC has created a social media graphics package for each of our monthly world days, you can use these to promote and spread awareness to this global concern and link to this page. You can access this in the STC Lobby. Don’t have access to the lobby? Visit the City Leader Resources page to request your account today.

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