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The people I meet and the service provided motivate me to keep volunteering!

Meet Donal

Community Catering volunteer Donal Ryan devotes twenty hours a week to making deliveries five days a week.

Donal Ryan COPE Galway Community Catering volunteer

His expertise and commitment have been hugely supportive to expanding the geographical reach of COPE Galway’s Meals4Health, allowing accessibility of a home delivered meals service to a larger cohort of older people in County Galway.

Donal began volunteering with COPE Galway in October 2019, following a hip replacement, which forced him to retire. After a career spent working twelve-hour days, six days a week, Donal knew he would benefit more if he kept busy after retirement and was attracted to COPE Galway because of its broad spectrum of services and volunteering opportunities.

“When I picked COPE Galway as the charity I would volunteer with, I needed something to keep me busy and active. The people I meet every time and the interaction and services we provide is enough motivation in itself to keep me volunteering.”

Donal delivers meals on his Corofin-Claregalway route, which spans a 40km area. His work with COPE Galway also incorporates the FEAD distribution programme.

“I’m happy to do it, it gets me out of the house,” Donal said, shrugging off the significant time commitment he dedicates to his deliveries. Fortunately, deliveries continued without interruption throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the outset of the pandemic, COPE Galway Community Catering very quickly put enhanced sanitising and meal collection procedures in place and provided PPE and training for all volunteers to safely deliver meals, safeguarding clients and volunteers, allowing for the continuation of the service.

Donal praises COPE Galway staff’s professionalism and dedication. “Anyone I’ve met within the COPE Galway organisation, they’re all committed to what they’re doing and there’s a good, friendly atmosphere throughout everything we do and a good working relationship with other agencies and charity partners,” he said.

Donal began volunteering with COPE Galway in October 2019, following a hip replacement, which forced him to retire. After a career spent working twelve-hour days, six days a week, Donal knew he would benefit more if he kept busy after retirement and was attracted to COPE Galway because of its broad spectrum of services and volunteering opportunities. “When I picked COPE Galway as the charity I would volunteer with, I needed something to keep me busy and active. The people I meet every time and the interaction and services we provide is enough motivation in itself to keep me volunteering.”

Donal delivers meals on his Corofin-Claregalway route, which spans a 40km area. His work with COPE Galway also incorporates the FEAD distribution programme.

“I’m happy to do it, it gets me out of the house,” Donal said, shrugging off the significant time commitment he dedicates to his deliveries. Fortunately, deliveries continued without interruption throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the outset of the pandemic, COPE Galway Community Catering very quickly put enhanced sanitising and meal collection procedures in place and provided PPE and training for all volunteers to safely deliver meals, safeguarding clients and volunteers, allowing for the continuation of the service.

Donal praises COPE Galway staff’s professionalism and dedication. “Anyone I’ve met within the COPE Galway organisation, they’re all committed to what they’re doing and there’s a good, friendly atmosphere throughout everything we do and a good working relationship with other agencies and charity partners,” he said.

Describing his food delivery runs, Donal said,

“A lot of the people you’re delivering to wouldn’t have any other interaction with people during the day at all. Quite often, you’re the only person they see.”

Though the calls might be as brief as a few minutes, the clients look forward to meeting and having a chat. Donal said the deliveries are a meaningful way to check in on people and maintain connections, especially for his housebound clients who live in in rural settings. “That’s where you feel like you’re making a slight difference and adding something to their life. Now, they add something to your life too.”

Sometimes the daily calls are a matter of safety as much as connection. “I had one instance when an older man collapsed inside in the house, and he couldn’t get up off the floor,” Donal said. “I was knocking at the front door and then I went around to the back of the house and gained access, and I found him on the floor, unable to help himself up.” Donal remained with the man, contacting a family member who rang the ambulance. After receiving hospital care the man was very happy to return back home again.

“You get comments back that [clients] are really appreciative of what COPE Galway is doing,” Donal said.

For example, he said, all the women received small gifts on Mother’s Day. “One of the women said, ‘But I’m not a mother, Donal’ and I said, what’s wrong with that? You had a mother, hadn’t you? And she was very thrilled to get it.”

Whether it’s a small token to brighten their day or something as essential as a nutritious meal, Donal doesn’t underestimate the importance of COPE Galway’s food services. “It’s the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something good and giving something back. My own parents, when they aged and needed help, we were lucky in that there were seven of us in the family, and we used to take the responsibility one day a week. But a lot of families don’t have that. Without Community Catering and Meals4Health, [some clients] wouldn’t have a way of getting the sustenance on a daily basis.”

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