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    Serendipity and the "Around the Corner, a World Away" DG

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    Coincidence, fate, serendipity, destiny, all similar words, describing that sometimes things are just meant to be. Such is the case with my involvement in the American Women’s Club of Dublin, FAWCO and the ISPCC.

    When my husband and I moved to Dublin over five years ago it wasn’t for any other reason except for a dream come true. As a dual citizen (through my grandparents) I had always said that one day, some day, I’d live in Ireland. The impetus to finally take the plunge was when faced with a life-changing scenario: my husband’s brain tumor operation. There’s nothing like a little dose of reality to make you act on long held desires. 

    We have never looked back and savor our life on this side of the pond. In 2008 as the Celtic Tiger was ending we were starting our life here. As we began to get settled into our routine with our jobs we joined our local parish church. With our financial and spiritual fitness on track I needed a bit of help in the physical realm. 

    With the colder climate I was getting too ‘buddy-buddy’ with Shepherd’s pies and Apple Tarts! So I joined a nearby gym and as coincidence would have it I met an American lady there. She asked me if I had heard about the AWCD, which I hadn’t, and gave me the details. I didn’t really think much about it at first. I never felt the need for American friends here in Ireland (or so I thought*see footnote below), but what I did realize was lacking in my life here was community involvement.

    I had always been engaged in charitable endeavors back in the States and I was looking for a way to give back to others in my new homeland. And the AWCD had many ways to give back, which I discovered at my first meeting. When I got home that day after the meeting my husband jokingly asked what activities and groups I had signed up for (he knows me too well). There were several, of course, but fate played its hand when at the meeting (the AGM) it was announced that all of the nominated board positions had been filled except one: the philanthropic chair.

    I whispered to someone on the nominating committee that I had extensive experience with fundraising and event work, but since I was a “newbie” I didn’t expect to be the chair, just happy to offer my help. Apparently, no one seemed to mind that it was my inaugural meeting and before I could blink I was chosen as the chair!  That was my initiation. It was serendipity that the chosen charity that year was the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children).

    Myself a survivor of child abuse and neglect, I suppose I was unknowingly hand picked to be the philanthropic chairperson. I adopted an unwavering desire and passion to do whatever was necessary to raise money for the children helped by this wonderful charity. I said nothing to my committee or even the representative from the ISPCC about my past. Only my family and close friends knew about my hidden scars. Even while working one full time and two part time jobs I kept at it.

    The ISPCC slogan, “Doing it for the kids” was my mantra. I spent that year dedicated to overcoming the people who said, “It’s a recession, you have to lower your expectations about how much you can raise.” With a fabulous committee and a supportive club president, we raised over 17,000 euro. We had various fundraising activities every month, whether a gala evening or a small bake sale, there was something for everyone that year. We put on events such as a family day for example and even a poker night. You name it, we did it! We were the “Little Engine that Could”!

    Finally, on the day prior to our last fundraising event, I decided it was time I shared my story with the club members. However, when I spoke to them, I didn’t want it to be a downer, rather an uplifting and tangible version. It seems that often times in giving to a charity we don’t get to see those that are actually getting the assistance, which creates an emotional distance. But these members knew me, so I presented it in such as way as to thank them on behalf of the kids who couldn’t. Every club member that spent even 10 euro on a raffle ticket was making a difference in the life of a vulnerable child, and that child, if given the opportunity to say thank you, would mostly likely want to do just that. I know in my life there had been “angels unaware” and I wished I could have said thanks.

    Since I am still here today I feel my life can be a living gesture of gratitude. I didn’t realize that my words had made such an impact to the club until Eileen Doyle approached me and offered to help with submitting a grant to FAWCO to benefit the ISPCC. She saw the passion in me, and realized that since the club had also gotten behind the fundraising efforts, maybe FAWCO would as well. Destiny is indeed sweet as the DG 2013 recipient of 4500 euro grant for “Around the corner, a world away” was the ISPCC. Eileen, Nancy Ward (FAWCO rep) and I attended the check presentation to the ISPCC this past week.


    It took place at the Cheerios for Childline (which is part of ISPCC) kick off breakfast. It’s funny how things happen for a reason, as Cheerios was one of the products for television advertising I appeared in as a child actress. I never actually saw any money from my work in the Cheerios commercial or any of the acting jobs I did in my youth because my mother spent it all on her drug habit. So in a strange twist of fate, I feel that the check presentation was a visible sign of something positive from something painful.  

    I was delighted to see the money going to such a worthy cause. Sadly there are children in this world that can’t speak up for themselves. They are innocent victims of violence, neglect and abuse. They are blameless. Particularly in difficult economic times, their suffering can go unnoticed and unattended to if not for the help of all of us that are more fortunate. I feel fortunate to have not only survived, but also thrived from my past. I hope and pray that the children we are helping can grow up to be happy and healthy members of our community and pay forward the kindness. My wish is that they will experience the love and care they deserve and I won’t stop working towards that so long as I am alive.

    So I want to thank FAWCO and those responsible for choosing the grant winners.  Those funds will go a long way to continue the cause. And I want to acknowledge the American Women’s Club of Dublin and my appreciation for my American friends in Ireland!

    *Footnote; I really do need you after all!

    There is a quote that says, “Coincidences mean you are on the right path.” I am delighted to get that confirmation and will continue to embrace those “meant to be” moments!

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