This story is about my Mother. Looking back I guess I became aware of her helping out in the neighbourhood from an early age and different children coming to stay at our house for short holidays. I remember extra siblings in the double bed, less space but most importantly they just became one of the family. In my late teens I remember saying have you not enough with 9 of us? NO it is our duty to look after others says she. I was the selfish, jealous one wanting some space. She continued taking kids/teens from Lota house and fostering for many years. She has been involved in COPE foundation, meals on wheels and CASA – fundraising and volunteering- until last year when ill health prevented her to continue being actively involved. Many of her family from different generations are continuing the tradition. She is still sharing and caring by spending time praying for all and enjoying going for her game of cards with her national school friends and that is my Mother 79 years of age Grannie Nora yahoooooooo.
The VitalSigns research team comprises of 5 dedicated volunteers who are striving to ensure that the voices of those who are often pushed to the margins of society are heard and listened to. The premise of the VitalSigns report is to report on the vitality of the nation and measure the quality of life of those who live, play, work and learn in Ireland in order to inform The Community Foundation for Ireland, a philanthropy organisation where best to place their funds. However often with reports such as these only those who are educated and have access to the available resources are able to partake. The VitalSigns research team is changing this. Each a volunteer, they are going out to lower socio- economic areas, residential homes and areas with a predominantly elderly demographic to ensure that each person is given the option to participate. They have battled angry jack russels and torrential downpours all while trying to convince residents that they are not asking for money or personal information, simply making sure your opinions are heard. To learn more about VitalSigns you can visit www.irelandsvitalsigns.ie
Story by The Community Foundation for Ireland
It is hard to put into 100 words the care that the volunteers within the CASA Breakhouse bring. These wonderful people have come from all over the world to give their time to the CASA members, always putting their needs at the forefront.
The volunteers are an absolute credit to themselves and we are blessed to have them within CASA.
Story by Anna Mulville, Breakhouse Manager.
The person that has dedicated his life to caring and sharing has to be my father. As well as caring for his 4 kids, all grown up now and his wife he has given all his free time to the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps which he does all voluntary.
He joined up when he was about 9 years old and loves every moment of it. He has been in Lourdes a number of times helping with the sick but his favorite duty has to be the horse racing where you will see him driving the ambulance after the jockeys or standing at the last fence to administer first aid to any fallen jockey. My mother also needs to be thanked for letting dad undertake so many duties.
I wrote to John & Francis Brennan a few years ago to tell them how much I loved their programme ‘At Your Service’. At the time I wanted to be a Hotel Manager and I thought they could tell me what it was like. We kept writing and one day John e-mailed me and said they were thinking of doing a Charity ‘At Your Service’ programme and did I know of anywhere that needed their help. I thought of the Respite House in Malahide. I love going there, it is always great fun, but because it’s used so much it was starting to look a bit tired.
John & Francis thought it was a brilliant idea and that was how it all started. I couldn’t believe so many people responded to a request for help on the Miriam O’Callaghan show on RTE Radio. It was brilliant to know all these people cared enough to share their time and skills to help make the programme happen.
I hope John & Francis know that they have helped to make a lot of people very happy, especially me!
There is a remote peninsula on the East coast of Ireland in the Co Louth. Cut off from the rest of the country, surrounded by the Irish sea and majestic mountains of Mourne, this mystical land filled with so many ancient legends is my home and it is called the Cooley peninsula. It is a very special place, as down through the generations, the people living there have always relied heavily on the helping hand of their neighbour for survival. Today, that tradition of helping another is very much alive in this quiet rural area. There is no branch of CASA in Cooley and yet the majority of homes have a ‘CASA Bag’ in their hot press, and the name ‘CASA’ falls easily from their lips. Stephanie and her ‘CASA Van’ is a familiar sight on the winding country roads. Every six months, a local Haulage Company, Hanlon Transport park their 40 ft lorry and trailer at Cooley Parochial Hall on a selected Saturday morning.
Through the kindness of local newspapers and radio, people are invited to come along and donate their unwanted items to the chain of CASA charity shops. The lorry remains at the hall from 8 am to 1 pm, and during those hours, the local people come in their droves to donate. By 1 pm, the heavy doors of the trailer are closed, another full load of donations is got ready to make it’s way to CASA.To an onlooker, this may seem like another lorry load of bags, but to those of us who know, we are very aware that this lorry has a very special cargo, it is filled to the brim with love, caring and sharing.
Every six months this operation is repeated, and for the past six years, the lorry has been filled to capacity. Many volunteers arrive on the morning of the collection to help load the lorry, children come and help wrap delicate items to ensure they will arrive safely in Dublin. An army of young men get out of their beds at 4 am following Sunday morning to travel with the lorry and help off-load it in Dublin. Each one happy to play their part in helping another.
Each time the lorry is loaded, many familiar faces appear. Elderly couples who have witnessed hard times, always seem to search and find a few items to donate. They appreciate the value of their donation. Mothers with car’s filled with children come with the clothes which fit them no more. The children stand on tippy toes, handing over toys which they will play with no more. Their mothers happy that they are discovering at a very early age the most precious lesson of caring.
Ladies come with dresses which have seen many parties and have lived wonderful lives. They hope that their glamorous dresses will go on to enjoy more exciting days. Some sad strained faces appear at the trailer, donating the remnants of lives which now are no more. With heavy hearts, they place the memories of their loved ones into black bin bags, and struggle to find comfort in knowing that they will now live on in the helping hand of another. People travel from the high mountains with perhaps just two donations in a small bag. Others travel from outside the area with cars filled with donations, on hearing the wonderful story of CASA. Cars, vans, tractors, and trailers all come through the wind, rain, or spring sunshine. Each person who comes to the trailer, hands over their bags, and then walks away with their good deed warming their heart with delight.
In these days of recession, our spirits can only be lifted by the story of CASA. These lovely country people will never witness the happy smiling faces of the disabled children as the great aeroplane lifts off the runway as it jets off for Lourdes. They will never meet the Africian mother who struggles in the hot sunshine to carry her disabled little girl to the new CASA Day Centre. They will not speak with the many brave sick people who find so much solace at Our Lady’s grotto. They don’t know the team of wonderful CASA helpers who give so freely of themselves to others. Yet, they continue to reach out, happy to support and share what they have. Delighted to extend the warm hand of friendship to people who need a little extra helping hand. I pray that this wonderful spirit of generosity, this wonderful story of caring and sharing will continue to thrive in this special place called The Cooley Peninsula.
I have only been involved with CASA for a short time but in that space the Caring and Sharing that i have witnessed from the Malahide community is exceptional. Donations are brought to the Breakhouse every day without fail and always given with a smile and a kind word, everything is put to good use in the CASA Shops to provide funding for our vital service. Not only have the community provided support through donations but also by giving their time as volunteers to cook or help out where they can. I have been so touched by the generosity of the community and we so gracious for all the support and care that people have given.
Even through difficult times in our country the sense of a caring community is very much evident.
Story by Anna Mulville, Breakhouse manager
It takes courage to step beyond our boundaries, leave our comfort zone, and go into unknown territory. In May 1990, two ladies from the CASA organisation visited my home in Leitrim and invited me to travel with CASA to Lourdes. I am a man, disabled because of Motor Neurone Disease. The ladies asked me to walk away from the comfort zone of my family, and spend five days with a stranger who would care for me. I really struggled with this idea, but in the end, their gentle persuasive powers won over my confidence, and I agreed with reluctance, to travel with CASA to Lourdes.
Twenty four years later, I am very privileged to say that I am still travelling to Lourdes with CASA, still getting so much from each pilgrimage.
Each year I find myself sitting at Mass, attentively listening to the story of Bernadette, and each time the CASA Priest tells it with so much meaning, making me feel that I am hearing it for the first time. Each year Our Lady welcomes me to Lourdes, fills my life with so much contentment and happiness. Lourdes is my fountain of love which I take so much pleasure in visiting each year and I treasure so much the moments spent there. As I walk around the beautiful old rugged rocks of the Grotto, and feel the holy water bless my body, I give thanks for all that I have.
Down through the years, I have had many of CASA’s well trained carers look after me. So many everlasting bonds of friendships have been created in this Blessed place. Strangers who I met at an airport have become my lifelong friends. I have not received any physical cure for my disease. I have received something much greater, the gift of acceptance and a deep feeling of happiness which dwells within.
I am no longer dying from Motor Neurone Disease; rather I am living with it. Now I don’t pray for a cure in Lourdes, I choose to pray for the continuation of this acceptance. Our Lady of Lourdes gives me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change.
No words on paper can ever adequately explain the love, affection, and gratitude that I feel towards this wonderful Association – C.A.S.A., and especially for the two ladies who extended the hand of friendship and support to me all those 24 years ago. Bless you! You wonderful people.