Paulene Devereux

Cottage Autism Network

Co. Wexford 

Paulene Devereux has been volunteer Treasurer with the Cottage Autism Network (CAN) for two years.

“My favorite thing about my volunteering role is supporting children to learn and develop new skills,” Paulene says. “Being there to see them change week-on-week is such a privilege. Knowing I am making a difference is what drives me forward to do more, be more, and try harder for them.”

Paulene works tirelessly to advocate for autistic children and teenagers in Co. Wexford. She recently set up a teen youth club, teen bowling nights, and a vegetable allotment where teens grow their own veg, which they sell at a local farmer’s market. Paulene also speaks to the media to promote autism acceptance and inclusivity.

Paulene and her husband Bobby are at every CAN event with their son, and Paulene is many parents’ go-to person for information about autism.

Praise for Paulene from members of CAN:

  • “Paulene is always at the end of the phone for advice and a chat. To me, Paulene really is the heart and soul of CAN.”
  • “She gives 100% to everything the charity does. The Wexford autistic community has benefited hugely from having Paulene on board.”
  • “She has great vision and is always looking to the future and finding ways to support our growing members.”
  • “Paulene’s vision and forward-thinking has helped CAN grow to fit with the lives of our members, our beautiful children.”

Edel Finn

Books for Ukrainian Children in Ireland

Co. Dublin

As the war in Ukraine unfolded and Ireland started welcoming displaced Ukrainians, Edel Finn came up with a unique project to help out.

Edel recognised how generous Irish society had been in donating food, clothes, etc. to displaced Ukrainians and considered how else people could help. She thought about what brought comfort and joy to her own children –  books. And she was inspired to start the Books for Ukrainian Children in Ireland fundraiser.

Edel has dedicated her time this year to fundraising for, sourcing, and distributing children’s books to Ukrainian children in Ireland. The project aims not only to provide Ukrainian children with books in their native language, but also to support the publishing industry in Ukraine and the survival of Ukrainian culture.

“The most important thing to me is knowing that these books are putting smiles on Ukrainian children’s faces and connecting them with their language and their home,” Edel says.

Edel has been distributing Ukrainian children’s books to various libraries whenever she can. She has also reached out to hotels where Ukrainian families are seeking refuge, and hopes to supply them with books too.

“This amazing initiative thrives due to Edel’s dedication and commitment,” says her nominator. “Her volunteering has brought joy to others in a time of darkness.”

Brendan Hoyne

Scouting Ireland

Co. Kilkenny 

Brendan Hoyne has been a member of Scouting Ireland for 44 years. He has volunteered as a scout leader, a venture leader, a rover leader, a cub leader, a group leader, a County Commissioner, and is currently a Deputy County Commissioner.

“Over the past 30 years, I have gotten to work with young people from all backgrounds and walks of life,” Brendan says. “I have seen these young people arrive at our scout den as shy 6-year-olds being dropped to the door by their parents to maturing into independent young adults ready to set off on their next adventure, whether it be college, apprenticeships, work, or whatever challenge they decide to take on next.”

Brendan started as a member of the 1st Kilkenny scout group when he was a child and has lived his entire life by the principles of scouting – helping others and teaching young people ethics and skills that will last a lifetime.

Brendan spends much of his time working with, teaching, and traveling with scouts, as well as fixing the den, tents, and scouting equipment. He also volunteers at Scouting Ireland events throughout the year.

Brendan guided the groups under his care through the pandemic via Zoom, and came up with financial aid funds to help scout groups struggling during the pandemic.

This year, Brendan arranged for his group’s scout den to be used to temporarily house displaced Ukrainian people – sourcing beds, clothes, and other essential items.

“Brendan has put his heart and soul into scouting,” says his nominator. “He is an enthusiastic, caring person and one who will always help others in need. He is the very epitome of a volunteer.”

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