5 March 2015
By Bryan T. Smyth
15 years of the Cork Simon Annual Fundraising Ball were marked today (Thursday 05 March) by a special gathering of 30 volunteers, supporters and sponsors who have contributed to making the event one of the highlights of the social calendar in Cork.
Volunteers Phil Vaughan, Mary Wilson and Rose Donnery organised the first ever Cork Simon Fundraising Ball in the year 2000, and since then the event has raised a staggering €875,000 in support of people who are homeless in Cork.
As the voluntary organising committee were putting the finishing touches to this year’s sold-out fifteenth anniversary Ball, to be held on 27 March, Cork Simon’s Director, Dermot Kavanagh, paid tribute to the volunteers, supporters and sponsors, past and present, who have helped make the Ball such a success. He said, “The calibre of individuals who give of their time, energy and talents to support our work is incredible.”
Up to 1,000 volunteers from all walks of life are active within Cork Simon throughout the year, including volunteers from the corporate sector who contribute their time and skills as members of Cork Simon’s voluntary Board of Directors, as participants in Cork Simon’s Business Group, as organisers of the Annual Cork Simon Golf Tournament, as well as organising the Annual Fundraising Ball. In 2014 alone volunteers from the corporate sector in Cork helped raise around €90,000 in support of people who are homeless in Cork.
“We’re most fortunate to have CEOs, managing directors, barristers and consultants lending us their particular skills and experience as volunteers”, Mr Kavanagh commented.
The Managing Director of GE Healthcare, Paschal McCarthy, joined the Cork Simon Ball Committee three years ago and serves this year as Chair, “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to give something back to society. Cork Simon is a tremendous organisation that does great work in the local community. Considering the dramatic bust this country experienced after the fall of the Celtic Tiger, it could have been any one of us who needed to turn to Cork Simon for help”.
Commending his fellow Ball volunteers who work year-round to make the annual event a success, Paschal said, “The Cork Simon Ball is a big operation that requires a lot of planning and project management. It’s an honour and a privilege to work with such talented and skilled people who give of their time and energy to pull off what has grown to be one of the highlights of the Cork social calendar.”
Volunteer Phil Vaughan, who helped organise the first Cork Simon Ball in 2000, and many more since, was inspired to fundraise for the charity after visiting the Cork Simon Emergency Shelter: “Having met the incredible staff and the people they support, I knew I had to do something to help”. The first Ball raised £21,000, which at the time represented the largest amount of money that any Cork Simon fundraising event had raised. Speaking of her experience volunteering with Cork Simon, Phil said, “It has been a pleasure to fundraise for such a wonderful organisation. It is very rewarding that what we started 15 years ago continues to day and has become bigger and better. The generosity of Cork businesses and companies has been outstanding and I have seen that their support has only grown over the years.”
Up to 50 Cork companies support the Cork Simon Ball each year through sponsorship, donations and items for auction. Cork Simon Director, Dermot commented, “Cork is currently experiencing a homelessness and housing crisis. The number of people sleeping rough at present is double what it was just 12 months ago. We’ve seen significant increases in the number of people turning to us for help and we are very concerned for the future. Cork Simon needs to raise €2.7 million a year to keep our doors open so that we can be there for everyone who needs us, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. So many people in Cork’s business community are helping us do that by giving us their time, energy and talents to help raise these vital funds, for which we want to say a big thank-you”.
The Cork Simon Ball will take place this year on 27 March in Fota Island Resort. The Cork Simon Ball 2015 is sponsored by HEINEKEN Ireland, MSL Cork, Bon Secours Hospital Cork, Dunnes Stores, E&Y and SolarWinds. For more information visit www.corksimon.ie/cork-simon-ball-2015/.