McAleese hails 'priceless' work of Rotary volunteers
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese yesterday praised Ireland's Rotary Club for making the world "a more decent and fair" place to live in as it celebrated its 100th birthday.
Speaking at the Rotary Ireland Centenary Conference, Mrs McAleese said the club was about caring for those who were neglected or overlooked in society.
"Your volunteers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things, not because there is a selfish personal reward or recognition at the end of it but because there is a chance to infuse goodness into community life," she said.
The club is part of a worldwide organisation formed in Chicago in 1905, in which businessmen and women raise funds to help communities. When the organising secretary of the Dublin club arrived in the capital in January 1911, he did so to a city of crushing poverty and increasing middle-class wealth, with thousands living in one-room tenements.
The organisation last week launched a book, 'First in Service', to mark the centenary.
Mrs McAleese said the sheer volume of people committed to the club meant that they could tackle things that would otherwise be impossible.
"It has been said that volunteers don't get paid, not because they are worthless -- but because they are priceless," she said.
She insisted that unlike some investments, the club continued to pay huge dividends for society.
Mrs McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese went from the Rotary conference to Breifne College in Cavan town, where they were given a guided tour and met staff and students to examine the work being done at the school.