Michael O’Regan has volunteered with COPE Galway’s Community Catering service, delivering meals for over twenty years.
His spirit and good humour meant clients could always look forward to a smile and friendly chat as well as a nutritious meal when he made his Monday deliveries.
He began volunteering in 1999, when COPE Galway was based in Galway City Centre ‘and it was a lot harder to find parking.’ He continued his work when the service moved to Ballybane, and says he enjoyed ‘every minute’ of his work with the organisation.
Michael would always make his rounds on Mondays and he had one or two clients to whom he would always bring the newspaper every week.
Michael said. “And this went on and on for years. There was always somebody on your route you knew from your past life, and I’d usually keep them [for the last delivery] because you knew you’d have time to discuss all sorts of matters with them.”
He emphasised that the service provides regular contact for people every day, and that different delivery people every day meant a different person to see and get to know. “It was great because you knew you were bringing them a nice, tasty meal and you had a little chat, Michael said. “And it was always fun, really.”
“I’d always set off at a quarter past ten every Monday morning, and I didn’t think ‘oh God, I have to do this or I have to do that. Not at all. You’d meet [the staff team] inside and there was always a laugh or someone would give you a tip for a horse.”
Michael said he was very sorry to have to give up his meal delivery work at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, when his daughters wanted him to stay home for his own well-being. He is a very active man, full of energy, fun and, at over 80 years old, he is a great example of ageing well. His life changed dramatically when Covid-19 struck and he had to give up his visits to his beloved wife, Rita, who resided in a nursing home before she sadly passed away in 2021. He couldn’t continue with volunteering, golfing, and his regular socialising. The people at Community Catering have kept in touch with Michael and have remarked on his ability to keep up his spirits and great humour, while throughout 2020 he kept up his daily walks and zoom chats with Rita.
He has nothing but praise for the COPE Galway staff he has interacted with over the years.
“I can confidently say that I enjoyed every minute of it. There was always something new, and I had great fun.”
Michael added that he always enjoyed volunteer meetings over the years, as well as annual volunteer recognition luncheons. The first time he went to a luncheon, he said he was surprised to see a number of people he knew well but had not previously known they also volunteered with COPE Galway. “I did Mondays,” he said. “But I never knew who did Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We were down in the Salthill Hotel for one luncheon and I don’t think we were home until eight o’clock!”
Michael’s story reflects the stories of more than 60 older volunteer drivers and volunteer kitchen assistants who had to step aside in 2020 due to Covid-19. The positive impact of their volunteer work and friendship will be felt for years to come.
We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for our volunteers’ work and friendship over many years… they are such a part of the ‘community’ that makes community catering so special.