HOME AWAY FROM HOME The exterior of Cuan Módh House in Newport.
Call for new volunteers for Newport day-centre
IT is just past midday at the Cuan Módh Day Centre in Newport and the clients are gathering in the dining room for a three-course lunch. Volunteer, Stella O’Reilly is helping one elderly woman into her seat while she chats away with the friends she has made on her weekly visits to the restored convent, home to the Mercy Sisters for many decades.
Since 2001 this sprawling building – with its sitting and activity rooms, has provided a home-away-from-home for dozens of elderly people from the area, mainly through a dedicated spirit of community volunteerism.
But now, says Anne O’Dowd, a volunteer at the centre for the last two-and-a-half years, there is an urgent need for new volunteers to ensure the future of this wonderful facility, situated at the top of Barrack Hill.
Over lunch, served with a beaming smile by Trish Farrell, one of the three Community Employment Scheme workers, who clearly go way beyond their remit, Anne O’Dowd outlines to The Mayo News the priorities for this centre.
“We really need new volunteers for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 11am and 3pm. They would just have to commit to one of these days which is just four hours. Our clients are aged between 65 and 95 and they enjoy such activities and pastimes as exercises, led by client John Guerin, bingo and card games are very popular as are the art classes and musical sessions,” says Dr O’Dowd, a retired curator at the National Museum of Ireland: Country Life.
As secretary of the Board of Management, she explains that Cuan Modh has had huge support from the community with ongoing fundraising initiatives, in particular a monthly car boot sale and weekly card games for the wider community, organised by Carl Cervi and Mary Finucane. Indeed, the fundraising drives have helped to raise several thousand euros over the last few years.
The centre is also significantly supported by South West Mayo Development Company and its Chief Executive, Gerry O’Neill, the HSE and Mayo County Council.
“The role of the volunteer is simply to help for those four hours: chatting away to the clients, helping those in wheelchairs, cutting up food, collecting money (contributions for lunch (€7) and the centre’s bus (€5) whose volunteer drivers collect them and return them home). It is a two-way process because volunteering has its own reward,” she continues.
FOR local GP, Dr Brian Lennon, Chairman of the centre’s board, the fact that ‘this service is volunteer-led’ and ‘a fantastic effort by local people’ is its hallmark.
“We value our independence and the communal volunteerism but also welcome the support from statutory bodies,” he says, when he joins us for a coffee.
Another urgent priority for him is to identify a funding stream to employ an administrator so as ‘to coordinate all the strands of the enterprise’.
“It is important to remember that this service benefits the clients as well as the whole community. The quality of the care and the food served here is above and beyond the norm while the importance of the company and interaction provided cannot be overstated,” Dr Lennon adds.
Each year some 70 older members of the community join the clients for a great Christmas dinner which local shops and businesses support with many donations.
MORE If you would like to volunteer or support Cuan Módh, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 098 42533. The Cuan Modh Day Centre is a registered charity.