A reason to give back

On International Volunteer Day, Carlo - restless volunteer of the Refettorio Ambrosiano - told us what makes him come back week after week.

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Credits: Emanuele Colombo

Carlo Luigi Casabianca, “White” for his friends, was born in São Pauloin 1941. His father was Genoese, but for the past fifty years Carlo has been – proudly – Milanese. He doesn’t remember a word in Portuguese, but the saudadefor Brazil has never really abandoned him. The only things he really cannot seem to be able to get rid of are his Genoese accent and his love for trenette al pesto.

He sits down in front of us, at one of the thirteen tables made specifically for the Refettorio Ambrosiano – where Carlo has been a volunteer since 2015 – ready to answer our questions.

  • What was your job before volunteering at the Refettorio?

In my life I did a bit of everything, but I worked mainly in communication and marketing. That’s why I like to talk. I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert, but since I’ve started volunteering here I realized that I actually really like talking to people and listening to the stories of the guests who come here to eat. Everyone has something interesting to tell.

  • How would you describe the guests of the Refettorio?

Grateful, without any doubt. They are really grateful, both for the meal that they are served and for the time that the volunteers spend talking to them. They even keep the door open for me as I walk into the room, can you believe it? The atmosphere here is cheerful, they are all happy to be able to come and eat in a place like this.

  • What is the most popular dish?

It’s pasta. They never get tired of it. Even rice and pizza are really appreciated, but pasta always wins.

  • What is the most beautiful thing you have experienced at the Refettorio? And the worst one?

The worst experience was when a guest started screaming in the middle of the dining room and we did not know how to calm him down. But it was an isolated case. The most beautiful experience? Every time someone greets me saying “Hello, you’re a friend!”.

  • In your opinion, is it more what the guests receive from you or what you receive from them?

It’s definitely more what they give to me. It is an experience that truly changes you, that makes you feel useful and makes you want to never stop. I’ve been here every Tuesday evening since the Refettorio Ambrosiano opened, and I never miss a service.

He is Carlo “White” and you can find him at the Refettorio Ambrosiano every Tuesday evening, ready to welcome you with the biggest of smiles.