University of Aveiro (Portugal) A Volunteer Store by all and for all

“The academic community of the University of Aveiro (UAveiro) belongs to all and is for all” said the Rector of UAveiro, Paulo Jorge Ferreira, at the inauguration of the VOL Store, last November 26th. This store was created to host volunteer actions, training sessions for volunteers, work meetings, and above all to be a meeting place between UAveiro and the community. Besides the Rector, Alexandra Queirós, Fernando Marques, and Wilson Carmo were also present.

Regarding this space, based in Bairro de Santiago, Wilson Carmo said that this is an important step to reduce the distance between the student community and the community of Aveiro, stating that this store will be open to all who want to visit. The Rector of UAveiro also did not forget the importance of this initiative to bring the University closer to the Region and explained that this is a space that arises to “practice proximity and be close to those who deserve attention”. Questioned about people’s lack of time, Paulo Jorge Ferreira says he believes that in a universe of “20,000 people, if some have an hour, it will be enough time to help others. In the Rector’s opinion, this initiative strengthens the ties between the University and the Community, reiterating that the location of the space is a sign of “availability and openness to help”. For the future, Paulo Jorge Ferreira hopes that this space can be replicated to other areas of the city, but before that, it is necessary to “let it grow, see how it evolves, and also see how the community accepts it”.

The VOL Store is now the physical space of the VOL program UAveiro’s volunteer program, an initiative implemented with the help of the Academic Association. Alexandra Queirós, Vice-Rector for Culture and Campus Life, used the meeting to highlight the fundamental role that volunteering plays in the development of students and the importance of “soft skills”, such as social responsibility and helping peers. Besides the internal volunteering actions, the Vice-Rector also mentioned some partnerships with external entities, such as the volunteer program that UAveiro has with the League of Friends of the Baixo Vouga Hospital Center.

The inauguration also included a community lunch, held with the contribution of ASSCMA – Associação de Solidariedade Social Casa Mãe de Aradas, Pais-em-Rede, Florinhas do Vouga, AFUAV, Manel, Mestre do Leme and Pizzarte.