There are healthy, free, and generous volunteers; and this is the most common, visible and concrete type of volunteer. But there are also people who use this role to hide terrible interests, who make profit out the misfortunes of other people. We have had news about them during the recent legal events in the Italian capital, where there is speculation on reception centers. Then there is a third way of looking at the volunteer, a hypocritical one, and often this is the approach of the institutions.
The State, in its various territorial declinations, frequently relies on people who have transformed volunteering into a mission to get to places it would not be able to handle otherwise. The range of this operation is extremely vast: starting from assistance outside the schools, entrusted to associations of former police officers, the support of civil protection in the management of public green areas and road maintenance, assistance to the poor and the maladjusted, to the management of entire sections related to social assistance.
And this is where the bureaucratic-administrative mechanism often begins its exploitative phase. Because whereas it is true that volunteers have no cost and do not allow profit-making, it is equally true that the assistance mechanism still has some cost. Meals, for example, fuel for transfers, maintenance of the stations or of the means, for example. Not everything is free of charge, not everything comes with no costs. Thus, we entrust ourselves to conventions where in the face of mere cost coverage, we support a lot of work to support the last.
Leaving aside those who have managed cooperatives in illegal ways – the courts will have to shed light on this point – needs criticizing the behavior of the state that does not pay the necessary costs coverage to the voluntary associations for months, trusting and relying on the extraordinary ability to self-denial these realities have. Often at their own personal expense they nevertheless ensure assistance, with no trade unionist attitudes, because their approach is not that of “job” but that of a “mission”.
Pope Francis invites us to pray “so that those who work in the field of volunteering can offer generously service to the needy” and “so that, shifting our focus from ourselves, we can learn to be close to those who live on the outskirts of human and social relations”. This is what tens of thousands of more or less young people do every day, and the words of the Pontiff are lymph that corroborates. An appeal should be made also to the institutions, always ready to appear with our flag on the occasion of a reportage on social initiatives, and whose memory proves to be labile when it comes to settling bills of what is necessary. Helping those who help is not a favor, it is a moral obligation, before being a legal one.