Foróige Youth Club leaders from Laois were among those honoured by President Michael D Higgins as part of the charity’s 60th anniversary celebrations. Volunteers Trish Mulaney and Maureen Bradley, and Foróige staff Jim Maher, Aiden McQuillan represented Laois at the 42nd Annual Foróige Leaders’ Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin.
Maureen has been a volunteer for 30 years, running the Daredevils club in Portlaoise which has 40 members. Trish runs two clubs in Castletown such is the demand, with 50 members between them, and has been volunteering for 28 years.
“It was a great weekend, we had a banquet on Saturday, stayed over and had the AGM on Sunday,” said Trish, who votes on behalf of Laois clubs at the national council.
President Higgins spoke of the importance of volunteering in the community.
“So much of what Foróige does nurtures the curious mind, prepares it for adult life, and also provides young people with valuable skill sets to meet challenges. The range of services and opportunities you provide are hugely impressive by any standard including a number of firsts; the first organisation to provide general youth work services in disadvantaged areas; for example, working with An Garda Siochána to roll out one of the first Garda Youth Diversion Projects; Drug and Alcohol Prevention Projects; bringing the internationally proven one to one mentoring programme ‘Big Brothers, Big Sisters’ to Ireland.”
There are nine clubs in Laois, catering for people aged 10 to 18, run by volunteers. There are three clubs in Portlaoise, and clubs in Ballylinan, Castletown, Cullohill, Mountrath, Ratheniska, and Timahoe. BLOCK projects for youngsters who were in trouble with the Gardaí, are running successfully in Portlaoise and Portarlington. For information on joining or starting up a club, call Bríd Canny on 086 204 3599.