Ger’s Story – Street Outreach Volunteer
Having grown up in a sports mad city like Limerick in the 70s and 80s and especially being reared at the top of Garryowen Green I always felt well plugged into the heartbeat of life around the place. Living in the shadow of St John’s Cathedral there was always something going on and interaction with people of all walks of life was common as each day we bumped into residents of St Joseph’s Hospital where my father worked or indeed passing the prison which was a high security unit during that time. My mother was a darling and many is the meal she provided for those in need of it, thus showing us how charity and decency began at home.
That local upbringing when times were so much simpler and uncomplicated definitely introduced me to the fact that life can be kind to some and less kind to others through no fault of their own such as losing a job, marriage breakdown, alcohol issues and so many other reasons.
I always wanted to give something back and through a contact Donal O Carroll, I was introduced to an organisation called Novas that do so much wonderful work in being there for those down on their luck.
Novas do buckets of good work but the area I helped out with was the Street Outreach Programme or soup run as its better known. It does exactly what it says on the tin and delivers a hot meal and drink for clients who come from across society 365 days a year. I usually drive the bus with a volunteer and along the way we pick up grub from local businesses who are happy to extend the hand of friendship quietly (The Greenhills, Hook & Ladder and Noms) and this is then distributed with a smile at the top of William St each evening around 7pm. The whole exercise between picking up the Novas Van to distribution is around an hour maybe an hour and a half at most and all us volunteers find it hugely rewarding.
The other area we help out is with the temporary shelters on Edward St where clients have overnight accommodation which means a good hot meal, a shower and a night rest after being on the streets all day which must be desperate difficult. Again this whole exercise takes no longer than an hour so not a huge drain on volunteer time.
One of the things I most admire about all the volunteers and staff of Novas is that everything is done in a quiet, non-judgemental manner. All clients who show up at the various service outlets are treated with total respect and enjoy the chat and banter with volunteers who they get to know over time.
A pleasure to be involved, be it only in a small way and delighted and thankful to Novas for providing the opportunity.