Today marks a defining moment for me – earlier this year I co-founded a non-profit organisation, Serve the City Limerick, which seeks ordinary people as volunteers for once off monthly projects benefitting the marginalised and vulnerable in my hometown.
During this time, I’ve been living and working in Dublin crafting the strategic vision, building and maintaining data systems, developing communications and organising the committee, volunteers and many of the individual projects. The charity would be almost redundant were it not for co-founder Etan and our latest addition, committee member Tania, who are building relationships on the ground in Limerick and seeing through much of that vision. This trio has been a great working group with each member falling into place as the organisation was ready for their support and abilities.
Serve the City Limerick is, without doubt, my proudest achievement to date – in the short few months we have built strong connections in city hall as well as with the local media, we have attracted the support of numerous businesses, are hosting monthly projects, have hundreds of people following us on social media, have over 50 active volunteers signed up and, most importantly, have facilitated those volunteers to make big impacts in the lives of dozens of less well off people in the city. STC Limerick is performing so strongly in such a short period of time that other cities are keeping a close eye on our organisational model to see how they can achieve similar feats.
My initial focus for STC Limerick was sustainability – I want to be sure that the organisation is strong enough that I know it will remain beyond my, or anyone else’s tenure. I want to hold STC Limerick up as a lasting legacy, not a short term city project. I want to be sure there are structures in place that shared burden among numerous volunteers, while at the same time being an inclusive and welcoming organisation to join.
Today, marks a major milestone in that process. For the past month I have been attending a Web Design bootcamp in Chicago, leaving the other committee members to oversee the day-to-day activities, including the organising and hosting of our November serve day which took place earlier this afternoon. This is the first time that I have not co-ordinated volunteers, not planned out the project and had almost no input in the day. All reports suggest that it has gone off flawlessly, and focus is now turning to December’s Serve Day.
While I know the charity is still in start-up stage, and we’re still developing relationships as well as building up a strong volunteer base. I am hugely encouraged to know that STC Limerick is well on the way to becoming a sustainable operation; and thus not needing me. I want to be sure that we have a strong dynamic leadership structure in place with more project opportunities to engage our volunteers and additional ‘tiers’ to allow eager volunteers step up and take a path towards taking a leadership role – and I am excited to lead with that vision for the new year swiftly coming upon us, but feeling unnecessary or ‘unneeded’ is, unusually, one of the greatest feelings I have had throughout this entire experience.
Knowing that the small acts and big ideals that I wanted to orchestrate in Limerick are still being carried out without my input is just so powerful to me. The hard work, and our commitment to doing things with purpose, rather than doing them the easiest way possible – has totally paid off, and has filled this Irishman with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment.
A lot done, more to do!