Clontarf Friday Friends Second Season Finishes on a High Note!

With our Christmas Disco / Party & The Jim Gavin Fundraiser (Thanks Lady Captain Madge, Lady Vice Captain Orla and Ordinary Member Gerry Keevey) there was no better way to bring the curtain down on our second season!

New Volunteers Sought!

We are now actively recruiting new volunteers from our golfing and bowling community for Season 3.   This will enable us to improve the experience, expand the number of golfers and bowlers we can accommodate from St Michael’s House and pursue the goal of some of the participants of becoming Special Olympians.

For those of you who are unsure of the role and what it is like to be a volunteer we asked two of our current volunteers to describe their experiences and this is what they had to say.

The Friday Friends Experience

“Listening to the news bulletins on the morning of Friday 24th November was not a pleasant experience. Hearing of the appalling attack in Parnell Square the previous day and the orgy of violence later that evening gave one a feeling of sadness and despair. A lift was needed, the reminder on the phone that the Friday Friends End-of-Season/Christmas party would take place that morning really lifted the gloom. Right through the season, from April to September, Friday mornings in the golf club have been all about activity, participation, achievement and fun, this day proved to be no different. Participants and volunteers gathered early, the room was laid out, and the DJ was in place. By 11.00 am the dancefloor was alive and only stopped when the food was ready (thanks catering staff and volunteers). The dancing recommenced before stopping for the presentation of certificates to all participants. There was a song or two, and yes, more dancing.  Before the season 2 was wrapped up each participant received a tub of sweets to bring home.   As we said our “Goodbyes” without wishing half the year away, there was lots of talk of Season 3, the progress of the participants and the possibility that among them there could be a Special Olympian or two..

So, what is Friday Friends? It is a group activity that takes place in the club every Friday morning from April to September. The participants are service users of St. Michael’s House and relatives and friends of Club members.  Volunteers are members of our golf and bowling club. The participants divide into small groups and after an exercise warm-up accompanied by a couple of volunteers and St. Michael’s House staff go to their first station.  For the bowlers, it is the bowling green and for the golfers it might be, the putting green in front of the pro-shop, the chipping green in front of the clubhouse or the garden area.

At each station there are volunteers so one week you might be going from station to station with a group, another week you could be stationed in the garden. Either way, you are never alone, there is always another volunteer close-by. And so the participants have a go at their sport of choice – bowling, putting or chipping. Thanks to the lads in the Pro-Shop, and to all volunteer golfers and bowlers, all necessary equipment is provided.

The two-hour session passes quickly, punctuated by shouts of joy from the bowling or putting green to celebrate getting nearest the jack or that elusive hole-in-one. But it is the nearly-ones we talk about most (sound familiar?), then the best bit – inside for minerals and goodies, and the presentations for best bowlers, golfers, etc.

Such is the standard that we have different winners every week. Presentations often involve an unscheduled speech or Seve/Tiger like air-punching and the odd song. Whatever transpires, it is like beginning your weekend early. The Clontarf Friday Friends look forward to season 3 and thanks to the fundraising lunch held in November will be in a healthy financial position for the coming year.

We have come a long way since Autumn 2021 when Ray Maguire and Alan Smith put forward the idea. Does anyone remember the to-ing and fro-ing over what we would actually call ourselves? But Friday Friends it was and is, and it is a very apt name.

As a volunteer I think I can say we all know people within the club we did not know before. When we meet participants, as we go about our daily business, the experience is precisely that of bumping into a friend. To those who are not involved you may feel you are missing out, but there is lots of room for you. While a 6-month commitment seems like a lot, in reality, because of our every second week/2-pod system, what you commit to is 12/13 mornings in total.   There is a very helpful swap system between pods as inevitably, there are one or two Fridays you cannot make.

So simply contact either Ray Maguire  (raymondmaguire@icloud.com) or Alan Smith ( alanjcsmith@gmail.com) as soon as possible,  as the necessary Garda Vetting process can take a while.  Come April you will be all set to join the gang.  No special skills are required, but do bring your sense of humour”

No need to be a good golfer to join Friday’s Friends

“I volunteered this year to participate in golf activities with Friday Friends.  Training was provided by the club.  After attending a training session on Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults, I was apprehensive as I had no previous experience.    I mentioned this to an experienced Friday Friends Volunteer and she encouraged me and said she would mentor me when we started the programme.   After initial awkwardness – on my part- I developed into a somewhat helper role.  My apprehension dissolved as time went by.

It is reassuring to know that each group of golfers have a staff member from St. Michaels House with them who are very helpful if you have any concerns.

There are a wide range of abilities and one has to assess how best to maximise each golfers’ abilities.  This ensures everyone gets as much enjoyment from the event.
It is extremely fulfilling  to see the enjoyment as progress is made, everyone is very supportive of one another – especially when  “a hole in one” is achieved !

Over the season you get to know most of the Friday Friends family, there is a great sense of satisfaction after each golf session.

We wish all the Friday Friends Family a happy festive season and look forward to welcoming new faces to our Programme in 2024

Ray & Alan

 

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