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Asti ready for the challenge to become the European capital of volunteering

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Asti candidate for the European Capital of Volunteering puts on the plate 1010 associations of the third sector, with 599 voluntary associations, of which 147 social promotion and 265 non-profit organizations. Not a little for a basin of 200,000 inhabitants. This is the business card presented to the European Center for Voluntary Service (Cev) by the Municipality and Csvaa (Center for voluntary services of Asti and Alessandria) and reaffirmed on the evening of Tuesday 16 November in a packed Teatro Alfieri event. “Waiting for December 5”, that is the date on which it will be known which city will be chosen by the Cev among the four candidates. A process that began in January and has had various stages touching the cultural sites of the city and summarized in the publication of the volume “Together for the city” which highlights the spread and importance of volunteers in the period of the pandemic. “It is thanks to them that no one was left behind,” said Mayor Rasero.

The event, conducted by journalists Elisabetta Testa and Riccardo Santagati, saw the participation of hundreds of volunteers from about sixty associations also gathered by the ceremony for the awarding of the “Association of the Year” recognition to realities of the ten voluntary sectors: With tea (social assistance), Red Cross (sanitary), Ethical Hotel (civil commitment and protection of rights), Ana Asti (civil protection), Sarah Onlus project (international cooperation), Via Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pontesuero and Valgera (environmental and animal protection), Parenting together (promotion of culture and lifelong education), Tanaro Skate (sports promotion), I amis dla pera (protection and enhancement of the historical and artistic heritage).

The award ceremony of the Con Te Cure Palliative association

Significantly, the evening opened with the video of the wish of Isabelle Dehe, mother of the Juventus player Moise kean, present in the room: «I am proud to support Asti’s beautiful candidacy. A great satisfaction, a great emotion for everyone ».

Isabelle Dehe Kean with the commissioner Bovino

Other videos recalled the impressive presence of volunteers at the Palio, at the Festivals, the actions during Covid, the commitment of foreign communities such as the Albanian one, the Volunteer Table, the Gift Bank, the social gardens, the Fruttuoso Park. A truly rich panorama, summarized by the mayor: «Having arrived here is already a great satisfaction. We have acquired an indelible awareness. So future generations will be able to get to know the magical world of volunteering ». During the evening, videos of the three competing cities were also presented: Birgu (Vittoriosa) on the island of Malta, Oeiras in Portugal and Trondheim in Norway. A little healthy competition: “We have all the credentials – indicates Rasero – but perhaps we should fear Trondheim”.

The commissioner Mariangela Cotto

Mariangela Cotto at the presentation of the candidacy

Mariangela Cotto was municipal councilor in Asti, then regional councilor for social policies and voluntary service from 2000 to 2005 and is currently municipal councilor for social policies. With the Municipality he presented the candidacy of Asti as the European Capital of Volunteering.

What will happen on December 5th?

“In Berlin, the current capital, the winner will be announced for 2023. Covid permitting, the mayor, myself, councilors Morra and Imerito will go as a delegation to hear the verdict.”

What happens if Asti wins?

«The commitment of all associations in organizing initiatives will increase, involving more and more people, participating in European projects, with exchanges to spread the culture of volunteering. In 2020 the capital was Padua: they had time to organize a big event, in February, with the participation of President Mattarella, who said “If volunteering stops, Italy stops”. If we win, we hope to get Pope Francis to come to his Asti ».

What if he doesn’t win?

«We will go to see the Pope in Rome. Seriously, we will continue to work together online, hoping that future administrators reapply the city in the years to come. We will feel postponed but not rejected on the first try. The award is young, it was born in 2013 ».

How long have you been involved in volunteering?

«In the institutions as a regional and now municipal councilor. Always on a personal level “.

Because?

“I think life must be worth living. Helping others is the greatest satisfaction there can be. The smile of those who thank you is priceless and if you do good you receive good and live better ».

How did you see volunteering in Asti develop?

“He has grown a lot, but now he needs to be supported because he has white hair. We have to make sure that young people get closer and make this culture their own. The home shopping initiative has shown that when an appeal is launched, young people respond ».

What are the risks of volunteering?

«The self-referentiality. Here, however, there is a healthy activity, truly free, not a coverage of social cooperatives ».

What would be good for Asti?

«To continue like this, involving other people by word of mouth. One of the most popular motivations of volunteers is “because a friend of mine does it”. A commitment that I have made is to give visibility. I respect those who want to do it without saying it, but I am interested in letting people know that they are not alone, that there are many who do it. Volunteers are teachers of good practice. And then there is room for everyone. We need to listen to citizens and accompany them in carrying out projects for the common good. We don’t want heroes, but people who feel it’s useful and don’t waste time doing it. If we manage to involve them for the good of the city we have won even if we will not become the European capital ».

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