KERRY'S Community Awards are celebrating a decade of success and the 10th edition of the annual initiative promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
This year's awards were launched in The Dromhall Hotel on Monday evening and the message from the organising committee members was loud and clear as the drive for sponsorship begins.
"If we didn't have sponsorship we wouldn't have these awards - this is about giving real money to people to be put to good use for a better society," committee member Brendan Doran of Southern Advertising stated.
"Because of cut backs and budgetary reductions, we are seeking new sponsors, people who me may not have approached in the past and others who may have originally said no," he added.
Reiterating this message, Kerry Community Awards Chairman Seán Quinlan highlighted the benefits of an initiative that gives due recognition to social, cultural and humanitarian volunteers.
"Volunteerism is the ultimate exercise in democracy, you vote in elections once a year but when you volunteer you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in," he stated.
Meanwhile, General Manager of The Kerryman, John Feerick, said the newspaper was delighted to be involved in an event that highlights unsung heroes and he gave special mention to last year's winners, Castleisland Family Resource Centre - St Vincent de Paul.
"Last year's winners demonstrated what community spirit is all about with their innovation in providing pre-school courses, computer courses and many other services and we need to encourage and help these community groups progress," he stated.
Marie O'Connor, President of Castleisland Resource Centre said that winning the award had been an honour and a huge thrill but, more importantly, had helped refocus the energies of the group.
"We can lose site of the passion when we become immersed in the day to day running of an organisation but we found that the application process was a very valuable exercise for our group as it gave us an opportunity to revisit our goals and objectives," she added.
Meanwhile, guest speaker Tom Lawlor, Chairperson of the Credit Union's Chapter 23, said that the Kerry Community Awards met much of the ideals of the Credit Union as it was in witnessing social problems that the Credit Union first came into being.
Approxinately 100 community organisations and groups enter the competition annually, resulting in over €300,000 being handed out to Kerry's deserving causes.
There are six categories this year. Entries for the first three categories are to be returned by November 30, 2012: Groups with Particular Needs; Community Enterprise & Innovation and Groups supporting Environment and Heritage.
Three further categories are to be returned by February 8, 2013: Community Spirit and Neighbourliness (Meitheal); Community Arts, Culture & Gaeltacht and the Youth category.