Our team: Maria Luisa Santabrigide, HOPE user and head volunteer in the Santanyí classification team.

Motto: “Live and let live”.

How did you come to HOPE Mallorca?

At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband and I were in a difficult financial situation and a neighbour advised me to contact HOPE Mallorca. They welcomed me with open arms and I was immediately fed and helped.

At that time, there was a lack of volunteers at the Santanyí station, so, during one of my visits, I got to work without thinking about it. HOPE Mallorca supports me and by getting involved in the foundation I can give something back. I like to help and stand by those who are in a worse situation than me.

What do you do at HOPE Mallorca?

I work every Tuesday afternoon and I am very happy to be part of HOPE Mallorca. When the delivery truck arrives, we unload the fruit and vegetables. We separate what is not fit for human consumption so that a farmer from the village can come and collect it for his animals and we classify the rest in boxes. Then we clean up and leave everything clean so that the volunteers on Wednesday can distribute the boxes the next day.

After a while, Marie asked me if I wanted to take over the Tuesday sorting team. This includes ensuring that feed is sorted correctly and providing sorted leftovers to the animals. At first I was hesitant, but so far so good. I try to be a good role model, which means, I work a bit harder and I like to come a bit earlier so that everything is ready when the delivery truck arrives. Then I’m the first on the ramp so I can unload quickly.

What do you appreciate about your work?

The people working at HOPE Mallorca are very warm. They give us users and volunteers a lot of attention and warmth. I always jokingly say that my weekly work at the station is like a drug. I have been welcomed into the team with a lot of love and appreciation and I am very grateful for that.

The feeling of being able to help gives me a lot of joy. It is about the idea of contributing oneself and giving something back, even if it is little. That’s why I also proposed to my husband to join as a volunteer. He takes the used packaging and crushes it for a colleague to take it away in the van.

Once I took my grandchildren with me to help and to show them that there are people who are in a worse situation than us. At home, we make a point of valuing food. My children and grandchildren are used to it from an early age: food is very valuable and is not thrown away. The visit to HOPE Mallorca made my grandchildren even more aware of the importance of not throwing away food and helping others. My eldest granddaughter cried afterwards and said: “Grandma, do you really know how valuable this work is? No one sees it, but everyone has to eat.

Were there any experiences that particularly moved you?

My own story: at the beginning of the pandemic, we had to get by on 900 euros a month. We pay more than half of that in rent. Then my husband got sick and the car broke down. Everything had come together. At that time, when I didn’t know where to turn, HOPE Mallorca opened its doors to me.
I have been with HOPE Mallorca for more than two years now and I am still very touched by their willingness to help those who need it most.

During my time volunteering, I get to meet very different people who need help. I am especially moved when children have to live in poverty, I cannot bear the suffering of children.

What is HOPE Mallorca for you?

HOPE Mallorca is a family to me. Here I receive support, attention and appreciation for my work. I can also tell them how I feel and receive sincere sympathy.

I especially like the small, sincere gestures. For example, when Laura kisses me goodbye.

What values are lived at HOPE Mallorca?

– Tolerance. Everyone is treated equally. It doesn’t matter if you are coloured, yellow or blue.

– Patience and an open ear. I am quite a nervous person. Marie, Laura and Damià are very good at it. First they calm me down and then they listen to me.

– Total commitment. All three are very committed and are always there for you. They even interrupt their lunch to serve you.

Como usuaria y voluntaria, me siento aceptada tal y como soy.

Do you have a motto for life?

Live and let live

What do you want for HOPE Mallorca?

I would like HOPE Mallorca to be overwhelmed by donations. Because there are many people with economic difficulties: families who can’t pay for electricity or people who live on the street and don’t even have a blanket. Now in winter many people on the island cannot earn money.

If I won the lottery, I would give my money to HOPE Mallorca. Because these donations get to where they are needed. Nothing is wasted. There is a small, dedicated and very well organised team that controls all expenses and takes care of the people.
I don’t think they can do any better.

The interview was conducted by Verena Glaese.

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