Brought to you by Cork Simon.
It’s the season of giving, after all.
Taking a dip in the Atlantic on Christmas day, singing your heart out for Simon in the run-up to Christmas, or celebrating the age-old Cork tradition of Nollaig na mBan are just some of the ways you can get together with family and friends this festive season to raise the spirits and raise money for Cork Simon Community.
Christmas is all about family. But when you’re homeless and alone, cut-off from family and friends, it doesn’t take long to reach rock bottom.
That’s what happened to Ruairí: “I ended up on the streets of Cork three days before Christmas. It was freezing cold and I felt desperately alone.” he said.
Ruairí’s life eventually “went off the rails” as he puts it because of a traumatic childhood experience. He talks about not knowing how to deal with sleeping rough: “I wanted to close my eyes and never wake up.”
But Cork is a generous place. It’s a generosity that helps keep Cork Simon’s doors open right through Christmas. It was a life-saver for Ruairí.
With his own bed in his own room and the help of a support worker at Cork Simon’s emergency shelter, he started to heal. It’s a healing that eventually helped him turn his life around – much more than a gift.
Your Christmas get-together can be more than a gift for the men and women turning to Cork Simon for help this winter.
1. Sing for Simon
Sing for Simon lights up the festive atmosphere in the run-up to Christmas as choirs, musical groups, Men’s Sheds, schools and even groups of friends take to the streets, dust down the musical instruments, and exercise the vocal cords.
All abilities are welcome and some have been doing it for years – like the Cork ETB School of Music. This will be their 14th year providing the soundtrack to add to that special Christmas Eve feeling in the city.
Rhythm and Reeds, led by Louise McCarthy, have raised over €25,000 for Cork Simon since their first Christmas outing in 2009.
“Teenagers from the age of 14-18 love doing it because Cork Simon is such a good cause, and everyone is willing to participate”, Louise says.
“There’s a lot of fun in it and it’s a great Christmas spirit.”
Fancy a turn to Sing for Simon? Your gift of music will add to the hustle and bustle of a Cork Christmas – and raise much-needed funds to help people experiencing homelessness get their lives back on track.
2. Take a dip and make a splash for Cork Simon
It’s going on to be a 30-year-old Cork tradition. A unique opportunity to bring family and friends from home and abroad together for a moment of madness that you’ll talk and reminisce about for many years to come.
Hardy souls will plunge into the Atlantic to show they care about homelessness, about the men and women experiencing it, and about the impact it has on our communities at the Cork Simon White Bay Christmas Day Swim.
It’s a real community affair. Caitlín Ní Lórdáin, who has been organising the annual dip since day one, says its success is “truly down to the work of many hands”.
And if many hands make light work, many souls create a big splash – and that’s just what Cork Simon needs to help keep its doors open all year round. Family home for Christmas? Looking to reconnect with friends on a visit home? Want to work up an appetite for that big Christmas spread?
You can take a dip in your local area or at your favourite beach any time over the Christmas break. Cork Simon would be delighted- and you’d be helping to make a big difference this winter for everyone turning to them for help.
3. Cork Simon’s Women’s Christmas Lunch – Nollaig na mBan in style
Nollaig na mBan is a unique Irish tradition, especially here in Cork and Kerry where it reputedly all started, but there’s nothing misty-eyed about Cork Simon’s Women’s Christmas Lunch.
“We have a great body of women who come year after year. It’s not just a social thing. It is a true meaning of helping the homeless.” says Marjorie Clohessy, one of the current organisers.
It all started back in 2004 when the first Irish woman conquered Everest; two entrepreneurial women here in Cork saw an opportunity to help people experiencing homelessness conquer their Everest. They organised the first-ever Cork Simon Women’s Christmas Lunch and it has thrived ever since.
“It is such a tradition in our family, and we love being involved”, says Marjorie. “We are a bit hooked on it. I mean the money we make for Cork Simon means so much and we know where the money is going.”
The Cork Simon Women’s Christmas Lunch takes place on Saturday, January 6th at the Maryborough Hotel & Spa in Douglas. There’ll be plenty of gifts on the day: Style Coach, Sharon Huggard will be the keynote speaker, the Loungeman will add a touch of sophistication to proceedings and there’ll be a plethora of luxuries to be raffled.
But it’s the camaraderie and sisterhood that will make the day, rounding off the Christmas celebrations in style and making a big difference.
Ruairí knows exactly what that big difference means.
“For the first time in a very long time, I felt loved. I felt cared for. I felt wanted.”
That’s much more than a gift at Christmas.
Will you take that Christmas Day dip? Maybe you’ll Sing for Simon, or round up some friends for the annual Women’s Christmas Lunch? You are, of course, welcome to do all three! For tickets, sponsorship cards or more details, email Margaret O’Sullivan at email@example.com or visit corksimon.ie.