Saturday, February 20, 2016

Project Rome: follow the VW beetle


Project Rome:  Tiburtina Tuesday


How a Beetle Bug, a British expat and her team of volunteers make a difference in Rome through Project Rome.

Love-Bug Beetle announces the volunteer's arrival 

As often happens, an on-line comment lead me to a website or article where I discover something new about Italy.   Finding a reference to Project Rome led me to contact Mary Stuart-Miller to learn more about how and why she started Project Rome. 

Since I have not met Mary in person, just through emails, I asked her to share her story with me.  You can also read a great back story on Silver Travel Advisor to learn how Mary relocated to Rome. 

Mary and her volunteers generously give time and effort to feed and cloth the homeless in Rome with Project Rome.  From the groups FB page I found very moving comments on how the project began and what they offer the homeless of Rome.    But something else too.  

photo courtesy of Google
There is true caring and concern for the people she meets every week.

                                                                  The homeless are not invisible to
Project Rome.  
  
Travel books and articles warn tourists to be alert on the metro, in the train stations and on the buses.  It is not uncommon to find solicitations for funds in any city you visit.    But I was unaware that Rome also has a large population of immigrant and Italian homeless. 

As in other cities, they can be invisible as you hurry to an appointment or to catch a bus.  We often chose not to see them.   Not Project Rome.  From their FB posts and a few email exchanges with Mary, I have learned a little something of the groups goals but what shines through all the words is the deep caring these volunteers have for the people they care for. 

They are people not just homeless, they have names.    

'Herbie" was out on the streets of Rome again in the last few days, firstly to deliver dinner, candles and hugs to the residents of the `Project Rome' abandoned school, and again last night to serve up hot stew and soft drinks to those living in the Chiesa dei Santi Angeli e Custodi in Via Tritone.   


What Project Rome offers:*

"Triburtina Tuesday may be one of the better known events Project Rome sponsors each week and how I 'stumbled' on this web site.  On Tuesdays volunteers with Project Rome take home cooked meals, new and used clothing and shoes to the street outside Tiburtina bus station where they are met by over 80 hungry ad desperate men and women."

Since I have not attended a Tuesday event I am posting the following online summary of one Tuesday: 
"Tiburtina Tuesday was just awesome last night.
Around 150 homeless men and women stood in the bus station square eating home-cooked chicken and vegetable stew, and beef with vegetables in tomato sauce, with rice and fresh crispy bread, on plates with serviettes.
Everyone was greeted by our wonderful Project Rome team, which last night included Jim, Sandra, Lupe, Luigia, Fabrizio and Bruno and a fabulous group of new friends who ran a soft drinks and tea `bar'."

Mary knows the names of the people Project Rome helps and offers a hug along with food and warm clothing

"Clothes and shoes were handed out to fulfill the `orders' taken last week.
Steve offered a beard shaving service and Mary cut hair (another first for Tiburtina Tuesday) and we played our `Project Rome' playlist, compiled from suggestions sent in during the week. (Thanks to all).
We gave out shampoos (hotel sized) and we took orders for next week.
The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, everyone got a nourishing hot meal, some take-away a second, everyone had the chance to `order' essentials, or a shave or hair-cut, to stop for a while and enjoy company of others (homelessness is very solitary), to listen to music and to feel part of society and a happy group of people, even if for a short while."


"Thank-you to the hundreds of people who are in contact with us. We've started something that is going to get bigger and better week by week, we do need more drivers, people to collect donations of food and clothes, volunteers to ask supermarkets, bakers, restaurants etc. for left-over food... we can do a lot, with your help we can do a lot more."
 

 



"Last night an elderly man wandered up to us outside Chiesa Santi Angeli Custodi where we were serving up hot meals, mostly to those who sleep overnight in the church.  We'd not seen him before, he was cold and frail. He asked if he could have a small plateful of the chicken stew, he ate it standing beside the car, then came back and asked for a second portion."

"When he'd finished, he said in Italian "Why do you do this kind and generous thing?" It is a beautiful question, and the answer is simple, because we can."
Sunday evening with Project Rome - Tiburtina Tuesday

"Donations requested. 
  • Lentils, borlotti beans, cannellini beans, ceci, chickpeas, or mais.
  • Tinned tomatoes and jars of passata (+catering tins in Emi Piu, just 3 euros)
  • Dried pasta, especially penne, spaghetti and fusilli
  • SHOES
  • Trainers for men and women, new or second hand
  • CLOTHES
  • Jackets, jeans, t-shirts & fleeces
  • SLEEPING BAGS & AIR BEDS
  • Paper/Plastic plates or forks"

How you can help:

"We are looking for sponsors. People who share our passion to support the homeless and disadvantaged in Rome and who will donate 10 euros, 25 euros, 50 euros,100 euros or more each month."

"Every small, regular donation will add up to helping us become more sustainable, enable us to start new projects and will extend our kindness and care to more and more really desperate people."

"Each person that we help receives a new pair of shoes every three months, new underwear and socks, ...hot meals and toiletries. That's the equivalent of around 15 - 20 euros per person, per month.
We buy sleeping bags for those that need them, at a cost of 15 euros each."

"Other costs are gas bombole to fuel the stufe that we install in abandoned buildings. Each stufe costs approximately 25 euros per month in the winter."

"Each week we spend around 200 euros on food, and that produces nearly 300 meals that we cook and deliver to three locations."

"Thanks to the generosity of many, we don't need to buy jeans and jackets as these are donated, but it's essential to give these people good footwear and clean socks and underpants, nourishing meals and when we can, items to keep them warm.

"We have some very positive and ambitious plans for Project Rome to help the city's disadvantaged, including a `coffee credit' service, hair-cutting, a mobile library, more food distribution while we'll continue what we do each week, while building on what we've achieved so far. Please ask if you'd like to see a copy of our business plan."   Contact Mary for more details

*All the photos are from the Rome Project face book site who have given me permission to post here.  Quotes are from FB and emails we have exchanged and are believed to be accurate.

To read more or contact the group:
Mary Stuart-Miller from Project Rome - Tiburtina Tuesday a personal project to help the poor, homeless and disadvantaged. 
All photos used in this post are from the FB pages of Project Rome and are the property of Project Rome.   

Photos can be found on the FB page for Project Rome.

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