Dino Impagliazzo is 90 years old and has been serving meals to the homeless for around 15 years — and it all started with a simple request.
According to the RomAmoR website, it was on a Sunday in 2006 that a retired Impagliazzo was approached by a man while passing through the Tuscolana train station. The man asked for some money to buy a coffee.
That got Impagliazzo thinking. He conversed with the man and found out that while there were some groups that helped feed the homeless on other days, none of them operated on Sundays.
“Dino, considering that it was not right that those in difficulty were not helped on Sunday, which is the day of the Lord, began to talk about it with some friends, asking for their availability to prepare sandwiches and urging them to involve other people who would help them,” the website reads.
“I realized that perhaps instead of buying one sandwich, making some sandwiches for him and for the friends who were there would be better, and thus began our adventure,” Impagliazzo said, according to Reuters.
Impagliazzo wasn’t a chef by trade — he worked for the department of social security in Italy — but he saw a need and he knew he could be part of answering that need. Anyone could make a sandwich: All that was necessary was concern for the needy and some basic ingredients.
The group of sandwich-makers started out small, with Impagliazzo and others prepping out of their own kitchens. As they expanded, they were able to use a convent kitchen and eventually an industrial kitchen.
While the outreach started with making sandwiches, the group branched out into hot foods, too, so that the homeless could enjoy their food on cold days.
Since its start, over 300 people have been involved with the program. In the beginning, Impagliazzo dubbed it “Quelli del quartiere” (“the neighborhood people”), but it is now known as RomAmoR.
Since the group is volunteer-run, its meals are made out of donations from food banks, bakeries and grocery stores. RomAmoR now serves hundreds of meals at two train stations and St. Peter’s Square, where other amenities are also available to the homeless.
It’s a collective effort from residents who want to help out their fellow neighbors who don’t have a particular mailing address.
“We try to involve more and more people so that Rome becomes a city where people can love each other, you know?” Impagliazzo said. “It’s solidarity.”
“I am happy because we never tell anyone, ‘We don’t need you tonight.’ They stay among us.”
Impagliazzo’s work has earned him the title “chef of the poor,” and Italian President Sergio Mattarella recognized the good Samaritan’s work by presenting him with an award naming Impagliazzo as a “hero of our times.”
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