Richard Gere at the Table for the Poor of Sant’Egidio: “I am honored to be here, where people take care of other people”

Richard1

Smiles, handshakes, autographs, and much applause for Richard Gere, who the afternoon of June 9 presented his new film, “Time Out of Mind,” at the soup kitchen of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which was transformed into a theater packed with around a hundred homeless, volunteers, and photographers. The actor, welcomed by the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, said, “One immediately understands that one is well here, in family. It is moving seeing the beautiful faces of brothers and sisters. Something that warms my heart. Only people heal people. Not money and politics, but only people who communicate amongst each other. I am honored to be here.”

Richard6Words exchanged by Marco Impagliazzo, who observed, “we are grateful for the occasion that was offered to present the film “Time Out of Mind” in this soup kitchen, which in 30 years has fed more than 200,000 persons in difficulty, helping many homeless and immigrants to find a family, the listening, and the company needed to escape the solitude of the streets. Richard Gere’s film effectively tells the story of how a person becomes invisible, and can help open the eyes of many in regards to the lives of homeless people.Richard7The first ‘invisible’ person who represents all those who live on the streets for us was Modesta Valenti, the woman who died at Termini Station 33 years ago because nobody checked on her, and who we remember every year as a victim of indifference. It is necessary to stop in front of the homeless, the 7000 who live in Rome and 50,000 in Italy. One must do it in three steps: stopping, listening, and helping. And then there is a fourth step that is also fundamental. That is the friendship to be built day by day. It is that which we try here at the soup kitchen of Via Dandolo and, more generally, in the Community of Sant’Egidio, where it is unclear who the helped and the helper are.

Richard5Before the presentation of the film, Richard Gere visited the School of Language and Italian Culture of Sant’Egidio, staying for quite some time with alumni, teachers, and a group of refugees who arrived in Italy from around the world. “The humanitarian corridors have an enormous positive effect,” commented the actor after having listened to the testimony of the Syrian refugees who arrived from Lebanon thanks to the agreement between the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Protestant Churches in Italy, and the Italian State to avoid desperate travel in the Mediterranean Ocean and to help those escaping war to safety.

Richard4

Richard3