This center has been working with needy families and children for 30 years. Never shying away, facing each situation (almost always difficult and delicate situation) with passion and tenacity. At the Ozanam Centre in Sant’Antimo (province of Naples), we find children with sad and desperate stories, where the volunteers’ smile and human contact can give them confidence and courage to move forward.
The uniqueness of this Center lies in the richness of its diversity. People who enter this facility are not viewed as an enemy, but as people who deserve to be helped and accompanied on their long and difficult path of growth. Antonio Gianfico, the National President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and founder of the Ozanam Center, does not tire of repeating the words that were reported in the Osservatore Romano: “That rediscovery of humanity lives in every single person. Today, unfortunately, we live in a society where human relations tend to weaken, so the Vincentian volunteers are convinced that it is necessary to have frequent contact that gives them the opportunity to appreciate others.”
At the Ozanam Center (which was created at the end of the 1980’s, a few steps from the parish of San Vincenzo Ferreri) some forty volunteers, are led by Antonio Gianfico and assisted by Mónica Galdo, who is part of the founding group.
The Center was created as an out-of-school project for disadvantaged youth who are provided with a place where they can do their homework with the help of volunteers. At the same time these children also have the opportunity to attend art workshops, theater workshops, sports activities and excursions that involve the participation of their families.
A cultural recovery for generational redemption: “The family is not always aware of what we do for their children. A few years ago – says Gianfico – we had two brothers from the neighborhood who attended religious education classes and were preparing themselves to receive the sacrament of Communion. The day on which they received the Eucharist for the first time, we organized a party at the center. We invited their parents, who until then did not know anything about what their children were doing at the center, even though we had tried to involve them several times.”
The seriousness and dedication with which it operates has allowed the Ozanam Center to become an important point of reference and connection with the neighborhood … this is due in large part to collaboration with the schools and the message of charity that it disseminates in its continuous support of families.
Antonio Gianfico, together with his collaborators, is committed to the struggle against the creation of ghettos, against the loss of families and young people (due to particularly difficult economic and social conditions, the desperation of having to surrender to total oblivion). “God has invited us to be guarantors of the poor and marginalized.”
The Vincentians of Sant’Antimo carry out many initiatives aimed at the rehabilitation of young people, for example, the project ‘Bibliotecasa’, a library that lends books and also a place where one can attend courses in journalism, watch videos, read or discuss various social issues. In addition, in order to spread the concept of volunteering in schools, regular meetings are held to sensitize young people to the importance of supporting others. “It is not necessary that all young people become volunteers – concludes Gianfico – but we want people to be concerned about entering into relationships with other people.”