What did you do this year that you really enjoyed, that made you feel valued and that you did to help others? If it was volunteering for IWA Modena, you probably attended our thank you event on Thursday 16th November, and we thank you for it. For those that didn’t, we missed you and want to thank you for all your hard work over the last year as well!

Volunteering for IWAM

IWA Modena is run with a large group of volunteers across many different teams including: App Development; Community Engagement; Digital; Empowerment; Events; Interest Group Leaders; Mentors; Merchandising, Photos; PR/Partnership; Welcome Book; Finance Support; and the Board. Without these volunteers giving their time and sharing their knowledge and passion for giving back, it wouldn’t be possible to have gained a membership this year of 150+ women!

The different volunteer groups form bonds while working together towards shared goals. Taking part in projects and planning them together also gives additional opportunities to socialise with like-minded women. It has personally offered me the opportunity to get more out of the association the more I have put into it. I have gained new skills and formed stronger friendships as a result. I have been a volunteer in the Digital, Welcome Book and  – in the past – Events teams. Since I started volunteering with IWAM, I have gained skills in website editing. As a result, I was able to produce an improved website for my own creative brand by using the same platform and tools as we use for the IWAM website.

This year, I have gained knowledge and a little experience with the launch of the Wild Apricot app we are now rolling out. My favourite social events with IWAM are with the Digital team when we meet up to have our social meetings, planning ahead for the upcoming month/s. We get very excited sharing our ideas and the IWAM events and news with our members and the public on our social profiles and in the newsletter.

Thank You Event

During the thank you event, our president and founder; Simone Zaminer, explained in her speech that when attending her school reunion this year, the thing she most wanted to talk about was this association! Next year will be the 10th anniversary of its formation and it has continued to become more valuable to the community of Modena and the women who make it what it is today.

Launching the IWAM App

Ekaterina; App Development Team Leader, spoke to the group a little bit about our journey discovering how to use the app as administrators and the benefits it offers our members and association. Members of the App Development team were then available to help attendees download the app and register within it. Following the event, the team finished off an instructional guide in video and pdf format and shared it with the rest of the members. We are so excited to have the possibility to use it, particularly to post our events for members to sign up to. If you are a member and have not yet downloaded the app or registered, please check out the guide or contact us for any assistance required.

The event took place at Bottega 39 in the centre of Modena. We had our own room and quite the crowd filled it up. Everyone was chatting and laughing, sharing news and I’m sure not just about IWAM. We had snacks on the table to start with, followed by pasta and then some breaded chicken (for the non-vegetarians). We were also able to talk to a large group of active members of our association to continue the rollout of our new app.

Feedback from Volunteers

I asked if some of our volunteers wanted to share their experiences and feedback about volunteering with our association so you can hear from them personally:

I’d like to give a big THANK YOU for the Volunteers Aperitivo we had. It was such a great celebration of the true IWAM spirit. Volunteering for IWAM has given me the chance not only to know some of the amazing women of our association better and do really interesting things, but also to give back a bit of what this group has given me: a sense of belonging, support and empowerment that was difficult for me to find away from my home country (even after 14 years in Italy and considering myself “almost” a local). Thank you so much for that! To those of you who are new or haven’t volunteered in the IWAM teams before, I encourage you to try it. There’s no better way to really live and breathe this wonderful association, and I assure you, you won’t regret it 😉

Evelyn Montes

Welcome Book, Digital Team

I joined IWAM just over a year ago. I was unable to continue working remotely in Italy in my UK job after Brexit. Finding a job here (at my age; 61 and from UK) without Italian fluency or Italian qualifications is very difficult. I like to be busy and have a strong work ethic too, so I was lucky that IWAM came to the rescue! First, I agreed to be a co-leader for the Biking Group which got me back into communicating and getting to know people whilst enjoying cycling too. Then I accepted the role of Interest Group Coordinator; developing support for the group leaders using my admin skills gained over the years and gaining some new ones too! Additionally, I joined the Community Engagement group (my last job was with a large UK charity) and the IWAM Porta Aperta volunteering group and participate regularly. I have made new friends and connections too, giving me a sense of purpose and giving back to those less fortunate. So, volunteering has given me a sense of purpose, connection, and community engagement opportunities. Thank you IWAM.

Liz Dirjal

Interest Group Leader: Biking, Interest Group Leaders Coordinator

I like to create bonds with strong women with whom I share the same interests. With the Porta Aperta initiative I feel more integrated in the Modena Community, as it’s not all about an expatriate experience, but sharing with the community I am living in and donating my time when possible.

Elizabeth Rodriguez

Interest Group Leader: Book Club, Community Engagement, Welcome Book

I have benefitted from and appreciated the hard work of the IWAM members who generously give their time to organise so many events for us. When the Community Engagement team presented a new opportunity for volunteering at Porta Aperta, I decided to join as it was for a cause that is important to me. I believe it is a very satisfying experience that brings a sense of purpose but also a way to connect again with other people. Personally, I feel it also helps increase self-confidence again after transferring your whole life to a new country, which can be destabilising. Knowing you can make a positive impact, even at a small scale, in your new community really is a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Clémence Foltz

Community Engagement

I often wondered how to make new friends when I arrived in Modena all those years ago. I love welcoming new ladies to IWAM and making sure they are loving the whole Modena experience as much as I am. Going out for drinks a couple of times a month and editing the Welcome Book seemed a great way to connect to IWAM members. I’ve met so many interesting people, made a few good friends and enriched my life in the process. Thank you IWAM!

Arpita Pandya-D'Amico

Welcome Book, Community Engagement, Events (Aperitivi)

First, I would like to thank IWAM for giving us this platform to create beautiful memories with people from different parts of the world. Being a volunteer in 2023 was an overall great experience as it helped me make new connections. Also, I have learned more about different cultures. What I enjoyed most was learning more about food from various countries from the Foodaholics group where we share lots of food stories and recipes to create. Other portals such as Porta Aperta and Casa delle Donne are places where what I experienced; I can’t put into words. It was so heart-warming and I’m looking forward to many more such volunteering events.

Shilpi Mehrotra

Interest Group Leader: Foodaholics, Community Engagement

If you would like to become an active volunteer and attend the next thank you event, please message one of the board members who can get you in touch with the group leader for more info.