Congratulations to Alfredo Abreu, winner of the 2023 Kenn Allen Award

Mobilizing a network of volunteers in Portugal

IAVE is pleased to honor Alfredo Abreu as this year’s recipient of the Kenn Allen Global Award for Volunteer Leadership.  

Abreu founded Serve the City Portugal in 2015 and has served as chairman of Serve the City International from 2020 – 2023.  

Serve the City calls itself “a global movement of volunteers showing kindness in personal ways to people in need.” There are more than 80 local organizations around the world.

In Portugal, Serve the City mobilizes volunteers from companies, schools, associations, and the faith community to spend time with people on the margins of Portugese society, including isolated seniors, vulnerable children, recent immigrants, and people who are unhoused.  

Under Abreu’s leadership, the organization has grown into a network of 8,000 volunteers and 85 partners, who have volunteered over 45,000 hours toward strengthening community connections across Lisbon. 

“We know them for their needs,” the Serve the City Portugal website challenges. “What if we knew them by their name?”

An attitude of humility and service 

“Alfredo has served on the board since its inception and has been a crucial player in the strategic vision and overall development of Serve the City International over the years,” his bio on the Serve the City International website states. “He has extensive experience helping refugees, the homeless and the vulnerable.” 

Abreu also serves on the board of the Portuguese Confederation of Volunteers (CPV), an umbrella organization of volunteer organizations in Portugal, including Serve the City.

“With his leadership, CPV stopped being an organization closed to large NGOs,” said Sonia Fernandes, president of Pista Mágica, who nominated Abreu for the award. “Now, different organizations, with different sizes and areas of activity, come together to change national legislation and carry out advocacy work.” 

“I worked in the third sector most of my professional life,” Abreu wrote on LinkedIn. “In youth work (Scouts), university student movement, nature conservation/education, culture, social needs/volunteering, and Christian communities‘ leadership. My focus has been leadership, communication and development/ fundraising, training, public speaking, and volunteer management. I’ve been trained in sociology and spirituality in Portugal and Canada. I’ve lived in Africa, Europe and North America.” 

With his wife, Rita, Abreu also co-pastors a church in Lisbon affiliated with the global Charis Alliance.

“Alfredo is the person with the greatest volunteer spirit I know, always assuming an attitude of humility and service,” Fernandes said. “Despite all the work he has carried out in Portugal and abroad over several decades in volunteering, he always remains ‘behind the curtains,’ giving the stage to other actors in volunteering.” 

About the Kenn Allen Award 

IAVE created the Kenn Allen Global Award for Volunteer Leadership in 2021 to recognize the power of individual leaders in volunteering.  

The first award was given to Christine Ntahe from Burundi, a volunteer leader and human rights activist promoting children’s rights, women’s empowerment, and peace beyond ethnicities. Last year, the honoree was Giselle Mendez from Trinidad and Tobago, who as a volunteer led the development of innovative online volunteer opportunities in response to the COVID shutdown. 

Kenn Allen is the founder and president of the Civil Society Consulting Group LLC. He has worked as a consultant and trainer in over 30 countries worldwide, helping develop organizational systems to effectively engage volunteers, designing and facilitating strategic planning processes and advocating for corporate volunteering. For 11 years he was a senior executive of the Points of Light Foundation. Allen has been a member of IAVE since 1980 and served as its elected volunteer World President from 1996 through 2001.  

The award provides a stipend of $1,000 for professional development.