The evening was an opportunity to recognise eleven volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to the lives of young people across the midwest.
Either with youth clubs or at LYS’ Community Training Centre, the volunteers have gone above and beyond in supporting LYS, with some volunteering for almost 40 years.
Welcoming guests, Fiona O’Grady LYS CEO said ‘over the years we have relied on the support of volunteers across a range of projects and programmes including young clubs, the Community Training Centre and on our Board.
‘We would like to thank all of you for your dedication hard work and commitment to the young people of Limerick,’ said Fiona.
The volunteers were presented with a plaque by the Mayor of Limerick, Cllr. Daniel Butler, who paid tribute to the recipients saying on ‘on behalf of the people of Limerick, I would like to thank you for all you have done for the young people of Limerick.’
‘It is a great privilege to be here and to see your achievements recognised this evening, particularly after the challenging few years we have had,’ said Cllr. Butler.
Among the volunteers that were honoured was Declan Real who established Clonlara Youth Club in 1986 and has seen generations of families attend the youth club.
‘Youth clubs are invaluable to young people- it’s a place where they can go, relax, play games and just enjoy themselves,’ said Declan.
Throughout his 36 years with Clonlara Youth Club, Declan met many people and thanked them for their support in running the youth club, from planning and organising events to running programmes and trips.
‘I loved every minute of it (volunteering) and met some amazing people and friends,’ said Declan, adding ‘because of my involvement with the youth club and LYS, I was able to return to education in 1993 and get a Diploma in Community Development with University College, Cork.
Kitty Dwane was another volunteer whose 40 years of involvement with LYS was acknowledged on the evening.
After starting as a volunteer with after school clubs with Sr. Joan Bowles in Ballynanty, Kitty moved to the original LYS youth space in Patrick St, Limerick in the early 1980s.
‘From Patrick St, I moved to what is now the Community Training Centre, where I worked in the Bakery and Catering Departments before retiring in 2013,’ said Kitty.
However, upon retiring Kitty’s involvement with LYS did not end as she returned as a volunteer with the Community Training Centre and continued to bake her delicious apple tarts and festive mince pies.
LYS would like to thank the volunteers honoured who are:
For more biographies on the volunteers, click HERE
Youth Clubs Look to the Future
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been significant for volunteer led youth clubs. While some have continued online, many have been inactive for most the past two years and are now beginning to reopen.
‘Re-opening and establish volunteer led youth clubs in communities is a key priority for LYS and we would encourage new faces to get involved through volunteering with us,’ said Fiona.
Everyone can volunteer, regardless of age, gender or experience with the mix of volunteers complimenting each other.
‘For a young person, volunteering can be a way of building skills, gaining practical experience while those ‘not-so-young’ have a huge source of experience that can be shared,’ said Fiona.