Tag Archives: Volunteers

Volunteers out in force for Irish Day of Action


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Maureen Sullivan

BY MAUREEN SULLIVAN

Residents of the Rockaways experienced a different kind of surge as almost 1,000 Irish volunteers arrived to lend a hand in a massive display of community spirit.

Seven different meeting points throughout Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx were busy at the crack of dawn on Saturday, November 24 as volunteers boarded chartered buses to the areas most badly hit by superstorm Sandy.

The New York Irish Center in Long Island City was one such meeting point and also one of several Irish organizations that joined forces to create this special day of service.

“Our aim was to get as many able-bodied people to help out as possible; to make one big, united effort,” said Jane McCarter, the Center’s arts and cultural director.

Before they departed, volunteers were given T-shirts to wear with a slogan that read “Irish Day of Action,” and underneath it, one word familiar to many that day: “Meitheal” (meh-hull), the Gaelic word to describe the long Irish tradition of coming together to help one’s neighbor.

This was by no means the first relief effort by the Irish community; it was a move to support existing efforts, according to Peter Ryan, deputy consul general of Ireland who was present that day.

“We are complementing what was already being done,” he said. “We felt that it would be nice for everyone to come together and show solidarity.”

He estimated that, combined with volunteers already on the ground, the Irish Day of Action brought an additional 500 helpers, bringing the total to 1,000.

Members from such organizations the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Emerald Guild, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center worked together in small groups that local coordinators assigned to devastated homes in areas like Breezy Point and Hamilton Beach – places that many generations of Irish Americans have called home.

“I don’t know what we would do without you, I really don’t,” said Cathy Segur, 63, of Old Howard Beach, as she watched a team of volunteers gut the home of her 90- year-old aunt, Elizabeth McCord.

Irish native Des McGoldrick, 47, his wife Fran, and their two college-age children, Chris and Caitlin, spent the day together, working on McCord’s home. Part of a team of 12, they spent hours clearing the house of its contents and knocking down walls.

“It was shocking. [That house] is as bad as it gets,” said Des, “but I was certainly impressed by all the volunteers. They were there for one reason – to get the work done.”

Runners raise funds for Forest Park


| ecamhi@queenscourier.com

Runners — both avid and amateur — came from all areas of Queens to compete in this year’s 5K race in Forest Park.

About 172 people raced on Sunday, October 2 to raise money for Forest Park Trust, Inc., which provides Forest Park with free educational, recreational and cultural events.

Joining the runners were scores of volunteers and spectators who cheered as each crossed the finish line. The race began and concluded in Victory Field Running Track, with check-points setup throughout the trail route. Professional scoring and assistance was provided by the Forest Park Runners Club.

Ricardo Cuahuizo, 23, of Elmhurst was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 17:04, while Francisco Martinez, 41, of Jackson Heights finished second with a time of 17:06. Jesus Bazan, 26, of Woodhaven finished third.

When asked about the win, Cuahuizo said he was “happy” that he did well and called Forest Park “his place” for daily training after he finishes his work day in the construction industry. Cuahuizo has been active in local races and finished first in the Mile Challenge held in Alley Pond Park this April and seventh in Forest Park’s 4-Mile Classic Road and Trail Run this May.

But the race attracted runners at all levels.

Allison Mintz, 37, of Forest Hills said she recently began participating in community races for pure enjoyment.

Frank Gallo, Forest Park Runners Club’s race director, was very pleased with the turnout and the cooperating weather. Gallo applauded the runners and also emphasized the crucial role volunteers play in orchestrating this and other race events.

“I told them, ‘You’re all special. There’s a reason why you do this. It’s something inside you that makes you feel good.’ If I don’t have the volunteers to place pointers or give out the water, it’s not happening,” he said.

Also part of the event was a Children’s Field Day, which took place in the middle of Victory Field before and during the race. Volunteers, many of whom were Forest Hills High School students, helped youngsters with a variety of activities like a 50-yard dash “Fun Run,” as well as life-size chess and checkers games.

For an official list of all winners of the 5K race,visitwww.nycgovparks.org orwww.forestparkrunners.org.

The next big race at Forest Park will be the 4-Mile Classic Road and Trail Run in May 2012.