ITALY AND THE UNITED STATES COME TOGETHER FOR THE CITY OF FLORENCE
Biocontainment ambulance donated by RFK Human Rights Italia

In collaboration with the City of Florence, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Italia has donated a biocontainment ambulance to the Italian Red Cross Committee to help the community counter the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the RFK International House located at Le Murate has been made available to home health care workers needing housing during this crisis. RFK Human Rights Italia has also partnered with major sponsors for the distribution of food and basic necessities from RFK Human Rights Italia’s headquarters to Florentine families in need.

The new ambulance was presented to the city on May 15 in Piazza della Signoria by Mayor Dario Nardella, U.S. Consul General Benjamin V. Wohlauer, RFK Human Rights Italia Secretary-General Federico Moro on behalf of RFK Human Rights Italia Board Chair Stefano Lucchini, and Lorenzo Andreoni, President of the Red Cross Committee of Florence. The vehicle is equipped with a biocontainment stretcher, pulmonary ventilator, infusion pump, and multiparameter defibrillator monitor. In addition to the Red Cross emblem and the RFK Human Rights logo, the flags of Italy and the United States appear on the sides of the vehicle as symbols of the friendship and cooperation forged between the two nations that helped finance the purchase. Symbols of the organizations that facilitated the purchase—the Fondazione Snam, the Tramuto Foundation, and the Friends of Florence—also appear. The ambulance was donated in memory of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and her son Gideon, who passed away in April of this year.

“Florence is grateful to [RFK Human Rights Italia] for this important donation,” said Mayor Dario Nardella, “and I would like to express my warmest greetings to Kerry Kennedy, and my most sincere thanks. It is a very significant gesture toward our community. This state-of-the-art ambulance will transport and [aid] COVID-19 patients, and I am particularly pleased that the recipients of this donation are the volunteers of our Italian Red Cross. Today, a new alliance is being created between two important entities, with the support of the U.S. Consulate General, which we thank for the support it has shown us in this difficult period. It is also a source of pride that the Italian Red Cross in Florence is the world’s laboratory for the entire international Red Cross for the management of the COVID-19 emergency. This is a source of pride not only for the volunteers, but also for us Florentines. After all, the history of the Italian Red Cross in Florence is a great story, and our network of volunteers is among the most important in Italy.”

The RFK International House of Human Rights, located on Via Ghibellina, was founded with the aim of hosting human rights activists from all over the world. During this COVID-19 emergency, the 12 rooms of this guest house have been loaned free of charge to the Red Cross of Florence to provide lodging to health care workers fighting on the front lines against the coronavirus. It is intended for those who need an alternative to their home either as a precaution to limit the risk of infecting family members or for logistical reasons and will provide a more convenient place to stay. RFK Human Rights Italia will consider extending this offer based on the needs of Florence area doctors and nurses.

In collaboration with RFK Human Rights Italia, the Red Cross of Florence is distributing aid and goods once a week to families with children at the RFK International House. This service, which started May 15, is being generously supported by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze along with other sponsors in collaboration with IKEA, which has provided toys, colored markers, home care products, and books. 

Kerry Kennedy on RFK Italia’s donation of a unique ambulance for COVID-19 related uses to the people of Florence

“As beacons of joy and hope in our family, my niece Maeve and her son Gideon’s legacies will live on in causes that remind us of their indomitable spirits,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of RFK Human Rights. “Therefore, it is only fitting that an anti-COVID-19 ambulance has been purchased and donated to the Italian Red Cross-Florence district in their memory. This vehicle [...] will operate daily as a reminder of their devotion to service to others in a cause that was Maeve’s life’s work—the intersection of global health and human rights. The only unit of its kind available in the area, the ambulance allows first responders to immediately adopt containment measures in handling suspected symptomatic patients, without burdening ordinary EMS activity. The donation, a beautiful symbol of friendship between the Italian and American people, is the latest development in [RFK Human Rights Italia’s] ongoing association with the Red Cross. Access to public health care is a basic human right and at the heart of my father’s ideals of equity and social justice. As a human rights organization, we are tremendously proud that this new technology will be used to help those in need gain access to health care. Maeve saved countless lives through her advocacy for public health, and Gideon brought joy to every occasion. What better way to celebrate them both than the Gideon and Maeve mobile—a gift from RFK Italia to the people of Florence.”

U.S. Consul General Benjamin V. Wohlauer remarked, “I am extremely proud to see the Italian and U.S. nonprofit sectors collaborating to confront the COVID-19 crisis, which is impacting both our countries. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Italia raised funds from around the world, including generous donations from Americans whose great love for Italy, Tuscany, moved them to offer their support. The United States and Italy are united by a centuries-long friendship based on shared history, culture, and values. Together we will overcome the pandemic.”

RFK Human Rights Italia (www.rfkitalia.org), the organization dedicated to Sen. Robert Kennedy, is based in Florence in the former prison of Le Murate. The foundation deals with projects in defense of human rights, in particular education projects in Italian schools on issues such as bullying and gender discrimination, and is against all forms of violence. Activists from all over the world are hosted, protected, and trained in Florence, and projects aimed at improving the socioeconomic inclusion of migrants are also organized. The RFK Emergency Fund was launched to deal with the COVID-19 crisis to raise funds in Italy and the United States to support concrete actions to help individuals and families in need in Florence, Rome, and Milan.

The Italian Red Cross (www.crifirenze.it) is a volunteer organization engaged in health care and social assistance both in times of peace and in times of conflict. With no external funding, it fully relies on the commitment of volunteers and donations, and is considered a high-profile association under the high patronage of the president of the Italian Republic. The Italian Red Cross is part of the International Movement of the Red Cross and operates all over the world according to its seven fundamental principles that constitute its spirit and ethics: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, volunteering, unity, and universality. In Florence, the Red Cross is headquartered in the historic Capponi Palace located at Lungarno Soderini 11 and has about 1,000 volunteers who are working daily to provide social assistance, civil protection, and ambulance staff during the health emergency.

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