When the lockdown ended in May, Italy hoped they had put the coronavirus pandemic behind them. But it’s back. And so are the volunteers from Scientology Churches who are helping relieve overburdened community resources.
When their helpline rang last week, Pro.civi.co.s (the Civil Protection Volunteers of the Scientology Community) immediately pulled together a team and took off to a busy COVID-19 drive-through swab station in Milan. With COVID-19 cases spiking, the center was inundated. Pro.civi.co.s took over directing traffic and keeping people calm so the doctors and nurses could concentrate on performing the tests.
Just as they did in February when the pandemic first struck, Pro.civi.co.s and the Volunteer Ministers of the Church of Scientology Milan are providing needed service to the community.
- Arranging and distributing donations of food to needy families
- Picking up groceries and prescriptions and delivering them to the elderly and those most vulnerable to the virus
- Providing masks to vendors so they are protected in their work
- Sanitizing essential service locations.
They work with the owner of a pizzeria who collects and donates food to at-risk families. In March, when collections outstripped his ability to deliver donations, he called on the Volunteer Ministers, who arrange teams and provide the service. They continue this to today.
They deliver pizza and pastries to needy families thanks to an arrangement with a local chef’s college that donates all the food students prepare in their lessons.
At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, a home for the elderly in the town of Rovellasca was in desperate need of help. Already understaffed, and with restrictions making care of the residents more exacting, they found themselves unable to cope. A dozen Volunteer Ministers worked in shifts through the rest of the lockdown, feeding and bathing residents, organizing recreational activities and keeping everyone extroverted and calm.
Seeing the work of these volunteers, the town mayor asked them for help. City officials, required to provide service despite the pandemic, were at risk. Did they know who could sanitize the police cars and the town hall vehicles? Fortunately, the volunteers knew exactly what to do and took on the task.
As soon as the pandemic began, the most effective measures were researched for ensuring the safety of Scientology staff and parishioners, and these were implemented internationally as protocols under the direction of Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige. This included locating the most effective decontaminant and making this available to all Scientology Churches along with training manuals and videos. Volunteer Ministers trained on these materials and sanitized the vehicles, making them safe for essential workers.
Teams were also arranged to sanitize ambulances, churches and police cars of other municipalities.
When the second wave hit, Volunteer Ministers contacted those they provided help to during the initial lockdown and resumed their work to protect their communities.
Volunteer Ministers also delivered thousands of copies of educational booklets in their neighborhoods to help people understand how viruses and germs spread and exactly what to do to ensure they and their families stay well. This was part of an international effort. Some 5 million booklets were distributed around Scientology Churches and Missions across the world.
The Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers program is a religious social service created in the mid-1970s by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard. It constitutes one of the world’s largest independent relief forces.
With the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Mr. Miscavige recognized that it was time for Scientologists to redouble their efforts to aid their fellow man. He issued a directive entitled The Wake-Up Call, which inspired astonishing growth within the Volunteer Minister program.
The following year, Volunteer Ministers of Italy formed Pro.civi.co.s, which was entered into the registry of the National Department of Civil Defense.
A Volunteer Minister’s mandate is to be “a person who helps his fellow man on a volunteer basis by restoring purpose, truth and spiritual values to the lives of others.” Their creed: “A Volunteer Minister does not shut his eyes to the pain, evil and injustice of existence. Rather, he is trained to handle these things and help others achieve relief from them and new personal strength as well.”