Rose has been a volunteer with SVP for nearly her whole life. She even met her husband through the Society! As a former part-time teacher, her greatest passion through the years has been education. Now as a Vice-President of the Society, she wants to use your kind donations to reach even more students in need.
Why did you join the Society?
I joined because there was a big old folks party happening and they needed helpers. All we had to do was help serve meals and wash up. I was in the girls’ school at the time, on Eccles Street, and they also took helpers from the boys’ school Belvedere College.
So it was an opportunity for us to make new friends too. After that event, we decided to set-up our own Conference between the two schools. We organised to do lots of things in the community. My first job was painting the railings on the North Circular Road. Great friendships have come from my years involved with the Society, and there have been a number of marriages as well - including my own!
How does your Conference help in your area?
We have a mixture of individuals and families living in the area. It’s a huge parish. We provide a range of help from heating bills to uniforms for children to visiting older people who are just lonely. In 2002, we opened a resource centre for the area, called Ozanam House. In it we run an active retirement group and older men’s support group, that’s just about playing bowls or bingo or a cup of tea. You would be surprised the amount of older people living right in the heart of the city who are so isolated and lonely. This gives them a reason to get out of the house a few times a week.
We also support children all through their education years with a preschool crèche, afterschool homework club and a teenage group. We try to encourage all the children in families we visit to do one class or another at the centre. It’s great for giving mums a break. Plus if you are living in a small flat with the telly on from morning to night, the kids do homework in awful places. That’s what brought me to the education.
How did you get involved with education?
I’m mad into education, I just believe it’s the future for everybody. If every child even got a Leaving Cert when I started in SVP, it would have been good, now they need to have a degree or at least a PLC to get a job. I was President of the East Region from 2008 until 2012. When I first started students could apply to their regional office for a small education grant. We decided to develop this into a full bursary programme. We set-up a special board to interview each applicant, with SVP members and external people such as college lecturers. I’m one of the interviewers still. It has just grown and grown since then, and been such a success. Last year we had over 200 students apply and we were able to fund about 100 of those.
The interviews and keeping in touch really helps us understand what support they need. We have one girl living at home with two working parents, but she is a single mother herself. She’s studying dentistry in Trinity College. She gets up every morning, puts the baby on her bike and cycles to the DART. Then gets off, puts the baby in the crèche and goes to her lectures. Then the same back again every evening. So hard working, but she would not have been able to afford college at all if not for the bursary.
“Now as Vice-President I want to see the bursary programme grow all around the country. That will only be possible with the continued generosity of our donors.”