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Expo proves volunteerism in Wexford is alive and well

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Laurence Murphy with Catherine Grey and Tony Murphy, Wexford Able Disabled Club.

Laurence Murphy with Catherine Grey and Tony Murphy, Wexford Able Disabled Club.

Melrona O’Neill with Deirdre Finn, Samantha Freegrove and Julie Jackman, Relay for Life attended the Volunteer Expo.

Melrona O’Neill with Deirdre Finn, Samantha Freegrove and Julie Jackman, Relay for Life attended the Volunteer Expo.

Nicola Toughey and Emily McCann, Catholic Guides of Ireland.

Nicola Toughey and Emily McCann, Catholic Guides of Ireland.

Sharon Dempsey, Glynn Killurin First Responders with Eva Law, Wexford Volunteer Centre and Alison Wogan, Glynn Killurin First Responders.

Sharon Dempsey, Glynn Killurin First Responders with Eva Law, Wexford Volunteer Centre and Alison Wogan, Glynn Killurin First Responders.

Calodagh McCumiskey, Rotary with Michelle O’Neill, Guest speaker, Dmytro Shchedrin, 1st Secretary Ukrainian Embassy and Karl Fitzpatrick attended the Volunteer Expo organised by Rotary Wexford in The Talbot Hotel on Tuesday evening.

Calodagh McCumiskey, Rotary with Michelle O’Neill, Guest speaker, Dmytro Shchedrin, 1st Secretary Ukrainian Embassy and Karl Fitzpatrick attended the Volunteer Expo organised by Rotary Wexford in The Talbot Hotel on Tuesday evening.

Fiona Dempsey with Calodagh McCumiskey, Rotary, Michelle O’Neill, Guest speaker and Ann O’Neill.

Fiona Dempsey with Calodagh McCumiskey, Rotary, Michelle O’Neill, Guest speaker and Ann O’Neill.

Claire Maher with Caroline Flanagan and Lisa Redmond, AD Caller.

Claire Maher with Caroline Flanagan and Lisa Redmond, AD Caller.

Martina Berry, Cottage Autism with Eleanor Egan and Ann Murray.

Martina Berry, Cottage Autism with Eleanor Egan and Ann Murray.

Jane Byrne with Eva Law and Ewa Juodis, Wexford Volunteer Centre.

Jane Byrne with Eva Law and Ewa Juodis, Wexford Volunteer Centre.

Sue Karron, Soroptimist International Wexford and Mary McDonald.

Sue Karron, Soroptimist International Wexford and Mary McDonald.

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Laurence Murphy with Catherine Grey and Tony Murphy, Wexford Able Disabled Club.

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At the first Wexford Volunteer Expo in January 2020 over 500 people walked into the Talbot Hotel to see how they could offer their services. However, a couple of months later, as we dealt with a global pandemic, the connections made at that inaugural event were temporarily placed on hold, put to one side as we all sought to make sense of the most seismic event of our times.

Yet now, a little over two years later, the Expo has returned to the Talbot Hotel.  

“Lots of people signed up in 2020 but then all of a sudden Covid happened, so we launched this again at the first possible opportunity,” said Calodagh McCumiskey, President of the Rotary Club who organised the event. “People want to do something, a lot of people have reassessed their lives during Covid and they want to give something back, they want to participate and engage with their local community.”

International football official Michelle O’Neill has some recent experience of volunteering having been sequestered for sandwich-making duties at Leisure Max for the visit of some Ukrainian children. Sharing her story with the audience Michelle said the experience, one which also saw her mother lend her services, had not only underlined the importance of volunteering but also proved humbling and rewarding. 

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She was followed onto the podium by special guest, Dmytro Shchedrin, First Secretary at Embassy of Ukraine in Ireland, who commended Ireland’s efforts in supporting his compatriots. 

“Four million people have fled Ukraine and we have had to rely on people like you, there are only seven of us at the embassy and the amount of work we have to do is enormous, there is only so much we can do, we as an embassy are doing our best but the amount of work being done by volunteer organisations is unbelievable,” he said.

Jane Byrne is manager at Wexford Volunteer Centre, an organisation which, although only founded a year ago, has quickly grown into one of the county’s most vital resources. 

“We can’t get over how quickly we’ve grown as an organisation, me, my wonderful board, the team we’ve grown into, none of us ever expected it to take off like it has,” said Jane.

“We knew volunteerism was alive and well in Wexford, especially after Covid, but we were expecting people to be a little jaded, yet in the last 12 months we have logged in excess of one thousand volunteering hours. We’ve 1700 volunteers and 170 organisations, and this has all happened in the space of a year.” 

 


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