Ron Martin is a community guy. He advocates for small businesses and his firm, RMG Insurance, hosts an annual Ladies Golf & Gourmet fundraiser to support the Freddy Awards for high school musical theater.
Ron Martin is also a guy who adores Italian food and culture. Always has. So when Martin pondered a recent trip to Italy, he embarked on a plan that satisfied both his Inner Italian and his community guy.
Martin volunteered for the month of October in an International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) program. Working with the Piedi per la Terra nonprofit, Martin helped refurbish the Vigna di San Martino.
The 17-acre UNESCO world heritage site clings to the Vomero hillside in the heart of the city. Atop the hill is the former Charterhouse of San Martino, which is now a museum, and Castel Sant’Elmo.
In exchange for a $1,000 fee, Martin received hostel lodging, modest meals, and at age 51, the honor of being the senior volunteer in the group. Among his colleagues were Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, and Australians.
Martin labored–clearing land of undergrowth, harvesting olives, and turning compost piles–but he also fell into the rhythm of southern Italian life. Rainy day naps, a weekend on the Amalfi coast, the famous pie at Antica Pizzeria Michele. Walking to and from work each day through a living tapestry of ancient street culture.
He summed up his experience on his parting Facebook post:
“Tonight I leave Napoli. I have spent a whole month here. I will miss it incredibly. I have lost two notches on my belt working in the vineyard. I have not watched TV at all. I have connected with its people and its rhythm. It’s not the prettiest city but the people here make it feel like home. My fellow volunteers are all awesome and deserve all of the praise in the world. Love them all! I’ll be back!”