Hope: Making Connections in Maastricht

Season 2, Episode 15

Loneliness is one of the top mental health issues in cities—one touching people of all ages and backgrounds. Serve the City Maastricht, responding with hope to this crisis of loneliness, has introduced the Noah Friendship Platform in their city. The team matches individuals with potential friends based on common interests and personalities, and hosts events for people hoping for new connections. Whether you cherish a love for cats or an interest in sword fighting, there is hope for a friend to share it with!

In this episode, we visit a Noah Community Dinner and meet some of the people who have become “Noahs,” as well as the “friendship matchmaking” team that leads it. We learn how “Noah” has become a household word in Maastricht for a person who is dedicated to being a friend. And we find out how Serve the City Maastricht is giving hope to their city by living out their own unique motto:

We connect the city by helping each other!

Listen to this episode here:

The Serve the City Maastricht team! In this episode, we met Greet Rechter (far left), Ingeborg Dijkstra (kneeling, in glasses), and Matthew Lunders (behind Ingeborg). Though we were primarily discussing the Noah Platform, Matthew also told us about some of the volunteering opportunities that give hope to their city.

One of the reasons we wanted to come to Maastricht was because Ingeborg introduced us to the Noah Platform at our Serve the City Europe Forum. But also while there, Ingeborg told this inspiring story about hope for a woman struggling with mental health at our Serve the City Live Session. We wanted to share this story with you as well—you can listen below!

Shannon Deal (producer/writer of Serving Stories) interviewed the Noah Friendship Platform team both in the STC office (with Greet, at left) and at the monthly Noah Community Dinner for May 2024. At right, Shannon is talking to Greet Rechter (the Noah team coordinator) along with her team member, Mariana Serrano, and Mariana’s husband Juan. Greet and Mariana described for us how the Noah Platform works to match friends, and told us some very inspiring stories of how the program had brought hope in people’s lives.

Maastricht University just published a fantastic article featuring one of their international students who has become involved both with volunteering with STC Maastricht and with the Noah platform: you can read it HERE.

As the Noah Community Dinner opened for business, Mariana registered the guests (left), while the rest of the volunteer team welcomed each person who arrived (Ingeborg is in the centre, Greet talking to the guest at right).

The guests at the dinner were a real cross-section of the varied population of Maastricht: expats and locals, refugees and young professionals, university students and retirees. There were guests all around the world, as well as some who deal with disabilities (like the blind lady pictured at right with Greet)—but everyone came with the hope of making new friends.

(If you want to hear a Serving Stories episode specifically about hope of integration and recognition for people with disabilities, listen to Hope: Everyone’s Got Talent!)

As the dining room at The Social Hub filled up, people already started in engaging in lively conversations around their tables! Greet also let the guests know a little about Serve the City Maastricht and their upcoming events.

The volunteer team served a free dinner of vegetarian Indonesian food to the diners at their tables! (Who wouldn’t want to come for that?) Ingeborg dishes out Nasi Goreng in centre at left; Juan, Mariana’s husband, serves at the tables (right). Juan just celebrated 25 years with the Coast Guard by organising a Serve the City volunteer project with his colleagues!

One of our favorite stories from this episode was about how the team managed to match two Noahs who both loved medieval sword fighting. Our music maestro, Parker Deal, composed some Celtic metal swordfight music just for this story! (Imagine your favorite medieval videogame…) We liked it so much we thought we would share it by itself for you to enjoy… so here it is: “The Epic Swords of Maastricht.”

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