Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

COVID-19 Awardees 2020

We are so proud to announce this years winners in the COVID-19 Category. This year we are celebrating three outstanding volunteers in each category.

Read each of their inspiring stories below.

Ciara Dowling, Serve the City, Dublin

Ciara was swept into the volunteer corps at Serve the City through a recruitment drive at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ciara is the personification of dedication; she did not sign up with a few assignments in mind. Instead, facing tremendous challenges of her own as her business was temporarily closed due to COVID-19, she re-channeled her unbridled energy into helping others.

Ciara volunteered for hours each day, accepting multiple assignments one after the other. The M50 became Ciara’s friend as she racked up the miles from supermarket to client, butcher to grocer, back home and then back out again. From early in the morning to well after dinner each day, every assignment was delivered without question, no matter the hour, no matter the inconvenience and always to support the cause.

Ciara was always there when a crisis or problem hit. The project ran into difficulty one afternoon as they were short of delivery volunteers. One call to Ciara and 15 minutes later she arrived at the premises of one of their partner organisations, loaded the car to the hilt and set about on her merry way ensuring people had dinner that evening.

John Murray, COVID-19 Test Centre, Kildare

John has been volunteering at HSE COVID-19 test centres since March. Currently in Punchestown, he has been managing operations on the ground, recruiting volunteers and organising rotas for volunteers to cover shifts at the testing centre.

John made sure that a proper system of directing cars was put in place and brought in some volunteers from the Army to direct the flow of traffic. Any issues on the ground were always dealt with by John in a calm manner and nothing was ever too big of an issue. He made sure all the volunteers were well looked after and received breaks even on the busiest of days. He got communications equipment from the Army so that he could communicate with people on the ground to ensure the smooth running of the facility. When essential PPE was in low supply for the volunteers he got the Army to make face visors for them all.

He spends a lot of his free time away from the test centre organising rotas to make sure all shifts are covered and that there are enough people for each shift. People become unavailable for shifts at short notice and he always manages to find a way to make sure everything is covered.

There is nothing John can’t find a solution for. He has a very calm deameanour and nothing is ever too much trouble. He has dedicated all of his free time which he should be enjoying in his retirement to serving the Kildare region through this pandemic and without him an already difficult job would be made so much harder.

Róisín Kilgannon, Dromore West Sings, Sligo

When COVID-19 hit, Róisín (a music teacher and entertainer who had to move back home to Dromore West from Cork) wanted to put together an online concert of some sort to entertain the people in the area. In creating the concept of “Dromore West Sings”, which was for Pieta House – Roisin brought together a very large group of people to create an amazing event for the local community of Dromore West, also the county, the country and around the world (people were tuned in from all over the world to watch this event taking place in a small rural village in West Sligo).

Roisin managed to raise €12,000 for Pieta House in just 2 weeks. The concept of the concert not only brought people together, when we are so far apart and distant, but it also gave them a chance to speak directly to people about mental health and the importance of services like Pieta. And it gave so many people hope, not only with mental health, but during a time where we were faced with so much uncertainty, sickness, isolation from others and lack of socializing in society.

According to Gerladine who nominated her: “There are no words or anything fitting enough to show her how much her idea ended up doing for our community, how much hope she gave us all, the energy that she brought to everyone that tuned in that night and all those who were involved performing and behind the scenes. It takes a special person, someone with a big heart, to do what Roisin did.”