Belvedere college student Nathan O’Shea (pictured here with headmaster Gerard Foley) was chosen as one of the top twenty Youth Volunteers in the Pramerica Spirit of Community awards by a judging panel led by Nobel Laureate, John Hume. The winners, from all corners of Ireland, each received €500 and an engraved medallion and will be honoured at a gala dinner next March in Galway where two will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year. “These twenty finalists are our shining lights who bring so much to their communities today and will bring so much to our society in the future”, said John Hume. “They are leaders in the making”. Nathan’s work with St Vincent de Paul on a soup run and visiting the elderly was commended by the judges. You can read from his application form below. Application Information:
Nicholstown, Kilcock, Kildare
4th Year student of Belvedere College SJ
Volunteer community activity:
Saint Vincent De Paul TEFL, collecting for Focus Ireland
Hours per week spent on activity:
5 hours No. Of weeks 112
Starting 2008 and ending 2009
What motivated me to help others was when I first did the soup run out of curiosity. While on the soup run I encountered a homeless Spanish man. He had cuts and bruises on his face. He came to Ireland to find a job but was not successful and so he had to live on the streets. He also told us how his father died two weeks before. Weeks later I found out that the cuts on his face were due to being beaten up by two drunks. Their reason for doing it was because he doesn’t pay taxes. This is why I help people.
Service involves doing the soup run every week with the SVP society. This consists of feeding homeless people throughout Dublin every Wednesday. We sit down and chat with them as well. Visitation involves me visiting an elderly lady called Josie with my friend Brian and occasionally Peter. Josie is 92 years of age. She used to live in a flat but unfortunately was put in hospital. We continued to visit her while she was there. She was recently put in a home, where she is still visited. The Christmas party for the elderly consisted of eating a meal with them, chatting with them and dancing with them. I learned a lot from some people there. The children’s Christmas party involved colleting second hand belongings in good condition from other pupils and donations of new toys from companies. We then gave toys and sweets to children who live in a disadvantaged area. Flat decoration involved painting people’s flats in a disadvantaged area.
I like to think that I gave those who needed help some hope. Josie would open up to me and my partners and tell us about when she was younger or everyday stories. She tells us how delighted she is when we visit her. During the soup run I have had guidance from people who are homeless about the danger of drugs. They have talked to me about their drug addiction, or how they were in jail. During the party for the elderly a man told me how two men broke into his house and hand-cuffed him and threatened to cut him if they didn’t tell him where his money was.
I hope that the work I do helps others through life. These people who are lonely or just down on their luck help me by giving me a purpose in life. I hope that what I do inspires those to do the social justice activities I do. I like to think that what I do helps the disadvantaged areas and creates a more positive atmosphere. Once helping the local disadvantaged community I saw a woman cry because her children could have toys for Christmas. I plan on carrying out these social justice acts throughout university or abroad because i might have to move country due to the current economic climate. There is poverty everywhere in the world so where ever I go I can still contribute.
Sometimes on the soup run we get surrounded by a group of homeless people, who proceed to open the bag and take the food out. We tell them we need enough for everyone but if they get aggressive we have to keep calm and sometimes give them what they want. In terms of visitations Josie has a very bad memory and we have to be patient with her because it can be hard to communicate or she might tell us she doesn’t want a visit and the next week claim that we haven’t visited in weeks. I don’t mind because I know she can’t help forgetting.