Our vendors: Sergio (Scarp de’ tenis, Milan, Italy)

By Elisa Rossignoli, Scarp de’ tenis

The first things you notice about Sergio are his willingness to work and his smile. He was a construction worker for many years but when the company he was working for closed he couldn’t find a new job.

It wasn’t easy at 57, but for a while he managed on his own, adapting to precarious housing situations in order not to be a burden to his family. About a year and a half ago, when that was no longer possible, he came to the shelter Il Samaritano.


Once there, he joined the day centre and started off by doing various jobs until he was asked to do carpentry and woodworking. At that point many people were already aware of his flexibility and willingness to work, and he’s never done anything to prove them wrong. He’s been involved with the department ever since, working tirelessly and enthusiastically. Since the day when he put on his blue work shirt for the first time he has cut wood into every possible shape and size: from panare (traditional round cutting boards for polenta), to toy parts, from small ready-to-assemble furniture parts to a zoo of stylized animals, and many, many more. If you go into the woodworking room and ask him to make you some impossible cut out that you designed, he will interrupt his work (which he’s never short of), smile, and say ‘Va bene’ (‘Alright’).

It won’t be long until you’ll have what you asked for. So far he’s never said ‘no’ to anyone. In the worst-case scenario, if the deadlines are tight and the bus is about to arrive, he’ll smile and say ‘Va ben, te lo faso doman’ (‘Alright, I’ll do it for you tomorrow’) in perfect veronese. The day after the requested shape will be ready for you exactly as promised.

His deadlines must take into account for the bus timetable because he’s no longer living at the shelter. A few months ago he moved into a flat provided by the progetto casa solidale (‘the supportive house project’). Sergio began working with Scarp at the end of the summer after becoming more integrated into his parish by volunteering at the neighbourhood party. He started out as a vendor right there in the neighbourhood, where many people already knew him. Over time he was able to gradually reach more readers. He enjoys working for Scarp and being a vendor gives him a small degree of independence.

Translated from Italian by Marta Anna Segit