Valentine O'Kelly from Bundoran in Co. Donegal has captured the hearts of the members of her community with the level of time and assistance she has given to others in need. Val has been a volunteer with Foróige’s Ballyshannon/Bundoran Neighbourhood Youth Project (NYP) since it started operating over 12 years ago. She has been a major driving force behind the success of the project today. Valentine, known by all as Val, has had a very successful career in social work and has a wealth of experience to offer. It is because of this successful career and education that she feels she's in a position to give back to her community.
"I've been extremely fortunate to have had an excellent education and hugely successful career and I feel I am in a position where I can give back to my community and to those in need of support and help. I'm very happy to do so.” she says. Val has seen many changes in the organisation. When asked about the needs of young people and families all around the country in communities in Ireland she says, “The needs of young people and families are increasing due to huge difficulties we are facing in these recessionary times and now more than ever it is vital that we support and give back to our communities. The needs are infinite but the resources are finite. Communities need to come out in force to help one another and create a community spirit that young people and families can thrive in. I believe that everybody has a skill and a contribution to make to create a positive effect on those around them and with this we can influence others to become involved in volunteering.”
Val finds volunteering very rewarding and volunteers with a number of organisations regionally and nationally.
“I am very proud of my volunteer work and I feel that together as a team we can bring people forward and develop the confidence and skills in others to do so. We have a huge influence on others and if we all work together the results can be outstanding. We can learn from one another and I gain as much as I give to my community. This is what strengthens community and I have witnessed this first hand with my own community in Bundoran. It can work and it does work and I am very happy to contribute to it.” she explains.
One of Val’s volunteering highlights is her most recent election onto the Social Work Registration Board. Involved for two years, Val was elected as Chair of the board last October. This is a state board set up for the purposes of registering social workers.
Not only has Val herself been so involved in giving back to her community but her family are also a huge support to Foróige. As well as offering donations and fundraising, the family provide lifesaving classes for young people, free surf coaching and also volunteer their time freely. Val credits her family and her deceased husband Frank O‘Kelly, who was also a great believer in giving back to others, in encouraging the family to follow in their footsteps. How this remarkable woman can keep motivated and keep giving back is something we can all only admire and look up to. Val makes volunteerism look very simple though we all know it takes time, dedication, commitment and a true genuine interest in helping those around her. She carries out her volunteering with ease, empathy, competency and a personal approach making Val one of the most likeable characters in her community.
Val is just one of the 5,442 amazing people who give their time, talents and dedication to volunteering with Foróige to help improve the lives of young people. They are building a better Ireland, one community at a time. I for one can truly say that on behalf of the Foróige Ballyshannon/ Bundoran NYP, we are hugely honoured to have Valentine O ‘Kelly involved in our project. We want to say ‘Thank You’!
There are lots of volunteering opportunities in Foróige in our clubs and projects, in our Garda Youth Diversion Projects, in our Big Brother Big Sister mentoring programme and more. If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Foróige, please email [email protected]. For all the latest Foróige news and events, please visit us at www.foroige.ie or check us out at www.facebook.com/foroige If you would like any further information on volunteering with the Ballyshannon/Bundoran NYP, please contact Caroline Cooke, Project Worker on 087-2492862.