Meals On Wheels
Meals on Wheels The Whitehall Council of Social Services 1970 - 2007
It all began in 1970 at a Parish Retreat for the young people of the Parish. They were asked what in their opinion was lacking in the area. Unanimously the reply was “there is no place for our grannies and granddads to go in the afternoon and nights”!!
So these young people had put their finger right on the problem and they themselves started the ball rolling by organising a “walk” and raising a wonderful £1,500 in so doing. Gradually, other groups in the area started to fund- raise particularly Majella Ladies with Lily O’Connor (R.I.P), Kay Philpott and Pauline O’Connor on the Committee. Sales of Work, Cake Sales and more Walks were all held and little by little the Fund grew.
The Parish Priest at the time was Fr. Menton and he and the priests of the Parish supported the venture wholeheartedly. To get the whole undertaking on a proper basis Fr. Menton knew a Committee would have to be formed. Contacts with Social Welfare, Corporation, Architects, Builders etc., would have to be dealt with and as Richard Scully was a Civil Servant he was asked to get something started. Numerous meetings were held particularly with the Corporation regarding a site and finally waste ground at the corner of Thatch Road and Collins Avenue was given at a nominal rent of £1 per annum! Unfortunately, a permanent building could not be built on that site and so finally a lovely pre-fab was built in 1971 and officially opened and blessed by Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Ryan in May 1974.
As it was now necessary to form an Executive Committee to take responsibility for the running of the new centre a meeting was held on 20th May 1974. From those present the following were elected officers: - Chairman – Richard Scully, Hon. Treasurer –Winnie Gannon, Hon Secretary – Pat O’Donoghue assisted by Joan Pembroke. In future this Council would be responsible for the day to day running of the Centre and be known as the Whitehall Council of Social Services.
The months and years rolled by and all the activities and services were operating successfully. Bingo on Tuesday night, Darts on Tuesday afternoon , Snooker, Arts and Crafts, Library (books supplied by Ballymun Library), Bowls, Hairdressing, Chiropody, weekly Barber service to the Centre and home visits, baths (District Nurse) every Wednesday. Friday Night Socials, and monthly parties.
Large functions – Christmas Party etc. had to be held in the Assembly Hall as we now had 300 plus members! A visitation Group was also there to visit the housebound on a weekly basis and to visit those in hospital. Also a very important service was the delivery of the daily newspapers free of charge.
By virtue of the fact that it was a Social Services Centre and entirely voluntary the use of the premises was made available to the following organizations;- St. Vincent de Paul, Legion of Mary, Whitehall Musical Society, Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovery Group, Monday night Club for teenagers with special needs, Schizophrenics and at a very late stage a Reformed Narcotics Group. Each and every one of these groups was deeply appreciative of the use of the Centre for their meetings in complete privacy. Another very important group using the Centre was the Bazz-Off Club for teenagers.
C.I.C. came on board 1979 -1980 and provided a wonderful information service 5 days weekly.
Without a doubt the most needy and most rewarding service to be undertaken was the Meals-on-Wheels. After a lot of research visiting other Centres and buying equipment the service started in September 1976 with 41 recipients initially. Councillor (Nurse) Hanna Barlow gave us wonderful support at this time putting us on the right road when needed. Some of the dinners were delivered and about 12 people came to the Centre for the meal and then stayed for the afternoon.
It would be very remiss at this stage if I failed to mention once again that while the Centre was self-supporting by continually fund-raising, that we had the full support at all times of the Parish priests, Fr. Menton, Bishop Kavanagh, Fr. Owen Sweeny, Fr. Joe Kelly and Fr. John Fitzpatrick, and all the rest of the clergy over the years, especially Frs. Flanagan, Fagan and O’Keeffe.
As the years rolled on to the nineties it was obvious the old Centre was coming to the end of its days. Repairs were not effective anymore and meetings were taken up mostly with “where do we go from here?” But the Lord never closes one door but he opens another, and that eventually is what happened. Fr. John Fitzpatrick and Richard Scully worked tirelessly on alternatives. Plans were drawn up for a red-bricked Centre to be built at the Bell Tower side of the Church. That did not work and finally the plans for a New Pastoral Centre as part of the Church were approved. By 2003 the building was finished and arrangements were being made forMeals-on-wheels and some activities to move there.
There was a slight delay in moving as the new kitchen had to be built and fitted to Health Board specifications. Eventually inAugust 2003 we moved in. We now have a cook Margaret to take the hassle and worry away from the voluntary workers, things are running absolutely wonderfully smoothly. As we cook and deliver 80 meals daily there was a shortage of drivers for a number of months, but our plea last October for ‘Help!” was answered. With a wonderful bunch of ladies and gentlemen delivering the dinners with a smile and a chat, how could we go wrong?
Our sincere thanks finally must now go to Fr. Michael Carey Adm., Fr. Aidan D’Arcy, Fr. Tom Kearney and Fr. Jim Hickey for their unfailing support and to Parish Secretary Anne Flanagan, Sacristan Des Ward, Tina, Sam and Harry for being always there for us.
Sadly our chairperson for so many years Richey (Scully) died March 2004
Hon Treasurer Winnie (Gannon) died August 2005
Chairperson Máire (Cassin) died December 2006
But they have left us a wonderful legacy and with God’s help it will be continued.