Words from our Chairman George Shiels
WE all like to mark anniversaries and I suppose that the pitfalls of human frailty mean that any anniversary reached is truly an achievement. It is therefore with great delight and pride - and not a little nostalgia, that Cookstown and Magherafelt Volunteer Centre celebrates its tenth anniversary. Cookstown and Magherafelt Area Partnerships, through separate steering committees, spawned the foundation of the two centres which came together to form one volunteer centre.
The first Co-ordinator of the centre was the late Cherry Dickson, and the first Chair was Bernie Quinn. We look back with sadness that Cherry didn't survive to mark this anniversary. Along with a very professional management committee - most of whom are still with us - these two nurtured the centre and developed it during those formative years.
It soon became apparent that only 60 per cent of the budget required to run the centre would come from the Department of Social Development. That meant locating and successfully applying for the 40 per cent shortfall. The shortfall that first year and each subsequent year was successfully addressed. This has been no mean achievement, and is down to the hard work of staff and committee.
The availability of quality volunteers has been one of the great strengths of the Volunteer Centre, and great friendships have been formed over the years amongst volunteers and between volunteers and staff. The other side of the volunteering equation is the availability of good placement organisations and we have been fortunate in having a sufficient number of organisations ready and willing to accept volunteers.
Nothing stays the same, and the Volunteer Centre continues to face the challenges of change, indeed the Department of Social Development is currently questioning our very existence. We will no doubt meet those challenges and remain in Cookstown and Magherafelt to work with Volunteers and Placement organisations.
The centre has had many partners over the last ten years and those partnerships have been invaluable, none more so than the current linkage with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. Together we cooperate to deliver services to those amongst us who have learning disabilities.
Finally, I have always been interested in the origin of words and their meanings. I was therefore interested in the definition of volunteering which is approximately: The choice to offer oneself for a particular task, of one’s own free will.
At Cookstown and Magherafelt we are optimistic that we will provide that choice, and we are confident that volunteers will make themselves available to volunteer - of their own free will. We can therefore all look forward to ten more years of volunteering.