Irene Lacey started as a Foróige volunteer the day before her 18th birthday. A local Garda asked her if she would be interested in volunteering at a new Foróige Club being set up in their small town of Newcastle. The club started on a Thursday night and her birthday was the next day. That was back in 1986. Irene is still a volunteer 28 years later and is now sharing her learnings and experiences with new volunteers as a volunteer trainer!
When it was suggested to Irene that she become a volunteer trainer last year, she thought to herself, “What am I doing? Why did I put my hand up?! I think that a lot, wondering why I am throwing myself into it. Then when I arrive I quite enjoy it and I meet new people! It’s quite sociable actually. I met a girl at a training session and I met her again then at the conference which was lovely.”
Irene trains new volunteers on the Foróige basics such as starting a club, insurance, policies, child protection. She has some advice for volunteers just starting out.
“Use your District Council! They are likely to have seen it all before. They know most things by this point. You should also take the time to meet other volunteers. Ask them questions, get ideas. Talk about discipline, games, things to do.”
Why does Irene return to volunteering each September?
“I always say to myself that if I look back on the year and can’t think of a child who has benefitted from taking part, then I won’t go back for the coming year.” Year after year, she thinks of someone who has changed for the better, who has come out of their shell, who has put themselves out there. There is always a young person who has blossomed, if not more than one.
“Two occasionally troublesome boys joined the Club. We were all going on a trip to try orienteering and the two boys decided they did not want to take part. They sat in the grass and weren’t going anywhere. I ended up sitting on the grass with the two boys and we watched the clouds go by for the afternoon, talking and chatting about life. The two boys told me they had jobs in the evenings involving carpentry but they didn’t go on Thursday nights because that was Foróige night.”
“I’ve enjoyed it all immensely. I think Foróige has made me more confident and understanding as a person. I see how there are so many different types of individuals, with different agendas and concerns. The things I have learned like listening skills, using the circle to sit around and speak, these are things I have used in my home and work life. The training is fantastic.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer trainer, contact [email protected] for information.