All City Call and a look at Humility

On 28th January 2019, Serve the City International had its first All City Call of 2019. This call, attended by cities across Europe and the United States, discussed humility and looked back at the reason why we serve. We started with a discussion of leading with why and asking ourselves why we do what we do, what motivates us and what impact we can make through our actions.

Serve the City Bremen provides a good example of serving with humility with their project of cleaning Stolpersteine laid out in the streets of their city. Stolpersteine, or stumbling stones, commemorate the names and fate of people who were persecuted by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.

The call then examined what an active city looks like as “an active city has a regular rhythm of serving in their city throughout the year.” We also highlighted the Dublin Resolution – 5 key points Serve the City is committed to in 2019 in order to achieve its 2020 vision. These consisted of;

  1. To deepen our understanding of, and commitment to our values. We will do this by constantly communicating the ‘why behind the what’ in our volunteering and developing more values-based resources, for our use, and to share with others.
  2. To be global advocates for people in need in the urban context by, as an example, sharing impact stories.
  3. To form cross-city networks of leaders who are addressing similar social needs. One of our current and particular focus revolves around working against human trafficking.
  4. To measure our global outputs, outcomes, and impact.
  5. To use our best understanding of the process by which new cities enter the movement and grow to maturity so we can equip, assist, and encourage them and increase the number of active cities.

The call ended by dividing into breakout groups that looked at (a) the regular rhythm of serving in active cities, (b) the help or input needed to become active and (c) setting a goal for this year that will help cities develop or sustain a regular rhythm of serving.



A Year In Review: Brussels 2018

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 –

Sara Tchaparian – Projects Manager at Serve the City Brussels

“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.”

Paula Grammatikos – Intern 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.”

David Anderson – Member of the Serve the City Brussels Executive Committee, Project Leader for Breakfast for Refugees and the Mobile Library

“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.”

Jeremie Malengreaux – Office Manager for Serve the City Brussels

“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!”

Marie Bennett – Assistant Director at Serve the City Brussels and Project Leader for Le Phare

“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.”

Osarumen Osama I – Project and Neighbourhood Leader at Serve the City Brussels

“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.”


Global Volunteer Day a Success!

On 5 May 19 cities from around the world participated in our first annual Global Volunteer Day.  Participants were cities in Ghana, USA, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Nepal, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Haiti, and Honduras.  We are still collecting details and videos of the events, but here are a few examples of some of the activities of the day:

STC Leuven went out on a street kindness project.

In Dublin and Cork volunteers were sent on DIY projects, and Dublin led a cultural tour for refugees as well.

Berlin had teams deliver thank you cards to various people who serve their city daily, such as firemen and bus drivers, etc.

In Tegucigalpa they handed out pancakes to elderly people and people on the streets.

Kathmandu volunteers went out to clean up the streets and collect trash.

These are only a few examples of the variety of ways people served in different cities on Global Volunteer Day.  Of course these are activities above and beyond the regular ongoing projects in these cities, so a big thank you on the extra effort to all who participated!  We hope this annual show of solidarity will continue to grow and spread the ethos of serving around the world.  Same time next year!

In News

Global Volunteer Day 2018!

19 Cities from around the world signed up to participate in our first annual Global Volunteer Day.  Participants are cities in Ghana, USA, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Nepal, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Haiti, and Honduras.  Look out for a detailed report on the day in our next newsletter!

In News

STCi Leadership Retreat in Lisbon

Serve the City’s International Leadership Team gathered for their annual meetings in early April near Lisbon.  Members of the Board, the Global Executive Team and the Global Operations Team came together from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, UK, and USA.

Topics discussed were the state of the movement, the development of procedures and resources for the support and advancement of our cities, and defining a work plan for the coming year; not the least of which were exciting plans for the upcoming International Forum in Dublin in October.  It was an inspiring and motivating weekend for all involved as we returned to our cities with a renewed commitment and vision for serving the movement.


Happy 6th Birthday STC Madrid!

STC Madrid has served their city for 6 years now and is one of our leading cities.  In addition to their regular volunteering activities, they have been quite active in the area of corporate social responsibility, offering many opportunities to serve for Madrid’s workforce through their jobs.  They were also the first city to launch a quite busy and successful voluntourism program, attracting even more volunteers from around the globe to their city.  We hope they continue to lead the charge with their innovative vision in the years to come!


“Serve the Servers Dinner” Geneva

Recently 40 of Serve the City Geneva’s enthusiastic volunteers became beneficiaries for the night, enjoying a delicious gourmet meal provided by Italian chef Walter el Nagar to thank them for their service. Of course, there was still room for some volunteering, as four newcomers offered to be serving staff for the evening, supported by two existing volunteers who stepped in at short notice to help. True to form, most of the attendees struggled to stop themselves from pitching in and found it strange to be waited on by fellow volunteers, but the event was more than just a night off – it was also a great opportunity to introduce the STCG committee and tell them more about their activities.

A highlight was hearing about an exciting new project: the ambitious and innovative “fifth day” initiative led by Walter along with his Société anonyme cuisiniers collective. The idea is to open a restaurant that will cater four days a week to the paying public, but on the fifth day, they will offer the same fine dining experience for free to those who don’t usually have the chance to experience it – those who often rely on free soup kitchens for their meals. Bringing humanity and solidarity to the restaurant scene, the initiative launched with a pop-up event on 26 March, at which Serve the City Geneva’s volunteers helped to serve Walter’s healthy dishes, prepared with local, organic produce, to 100 of Geneva’s needy. For more information about the project, see the SAC website.   STC Geneva is moving strongly to invest in our volunteers ! Thanks to the Berlin Initiative for the encouragement.


Announcing Our First Global Volunteer Day!

Join Serve the City International on 5 May 2018 for our first annual Global Volunteer Day! Register for a project in your city so our local action can make a global impact! In how many cities can we serve together on the same day? How many volunteers can we involve? Many people doing small things together can make a big difference!

Click HERE for more info on our website.

To register your city for the Global Volunteer Day email carlton@servethecity.net


Successful Pre-Launch Event In Manila

Our friends in Manila interested in starting Serve the City there recently held a pre-launch event, consisting of a morning of cleaning the streets followed by basketball with the community.  We wish them the best as they work through the process of becoming an official Serve the City project and hope to see them on our map of cities soon!

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