Volunteering can positively change peoples' lives, at a very early age this fact was understood by Seán who shares his story as part of Kerry Volunteer Centre's National Volunteering Week #WhyIVolunteer initiative. Seán grew up in Mayo where his mother owned a small grocery shop which became the centre and heart of the local community. Sean recalled her as his inspiration for volunteering ‘my mother set a positive example, that giving back within your community, by giving your time, does so much to help those in need and contributes to the common good.’
For Seán, like many volunteers retired or otherwise, volunteering gives him a real sense of purpose. ‘If you want a change or want to make a contribution you can be that person. You just have to find a cause that you are particularly drawn towards. I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in very rewarding volunteer opportunities. When you contribute your time, you get back far more in return.’
Seán is a former Chairperson of Listowel Writers Week; he continues to volunteer his creative background in spoken word and poetry to help coordinate the successful festival. ‘We give encouragement to local writers and poets and bring in international writers so that people can meet their idols’. Additionally, Sean has volunteered with Tralee International Resource Centre to support migrants who have recently arrived in Tralee with their integration into the community.
Seán was instrumental in setting up Action Lesotho which is an Irish NGO whose aim is to bring much needed humanitarian and development aid from Ireland to the Kingdom of Lesotho. He actively volunteers internationally in West Africa, Gambia, supporting women who want to go back into education. ‘As a teacher I felt I had a lot to contribute but also as parent to a daughter, who has been very fortunate to access a fine education system from primary right through to university. Women in Gambia have had to leave education from 9 or 10 years of age for no other reasons than poverty or being a woman. Simply by circumstance, they have been denied the option for education. We help women return into education, which hopefully supports a better future for themselves and helps them reach their full potential’.
Presently, Seán volunteers as a director of the Kerry Cancer Support Group. ‘It’s a wonderful organisation that supports people who are on their cancer journey, from all over Kerry. The charity supports the emotional well-being of the patient and their families by giving them the peace of mind to know that they are not alone on their journey and shall be supported to attend their treatments and hospital appointments in Limerick and Cork. It’s great to see that we were able to bring some comfort to people who are in a terrible situation and alleviate some of the stress they are placed under.’
Through Volunteering Seán meets inspiring people, ‘the inspiration comes an awful lot from their humility and from their ability to accept what ever challenges have been thrown at them. I have witnessed people grow through adversity and the challenges they face. People can be so strong and it gives you hope.’ Overall, Sean feels that volunteering has provided him with ‘Gratitude, humility and the gift of companionship.’
Feeling inspired by Seán’s Volunteering story? Then why not click on this link to register your interest in Volunteering with Kerry Volunteer Centre toady!