One of the GROW’s best known representatives, Sr Gertrude Howley, is in line for prestigious honour after being nominated for a Volunteer of the Year Award.
The awards ceremony will take place in the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown, Dublin, on Friday December 6th and Sr Gertrude is nominated in the Health & Disability Category, along with two other volunteers.
On the night all shortlisted volunteers will be presented with a certificate before the category winner is announced. One shortlisted nominee will then be named overall Volunteer of the Year.
There are eleven categories reflecting the different facets of volunteering, such as, social inclusion, sport, safety, youth work and including an “Outstanding Groups” category. The final category recognises the important work of volunteer managers, this category is separate as the nominee can be in a paid or unpaid role.
It is a fitting honour for Sr Gert who has worked tirelessly in the local community for over 30 years. Having joined the Presentation Sisters in 1958 she taught in both primary and secondary schools until 1984 when she took on the role of Parish Sister.
It was while working in the community that she discovered the everyday problems that people encountered and as a result she decided to start a GROW group in Dungarvan. It proved to be a hugely successful initiative and at present there are three support groups operating in the area.
Sr Gertrude is a brilliant example of how to make a difference as she is currently the GROW South East Regional Chairperson, has run hundreds of community outreach and fundraising projects and over the past 35 years, while she has developed and provides community adult education courses.
She also founded the “Little Lantern” Counselling and personal development centre with the help of her community (Presentation Sisters). She also runs meditation groups, prayer group, brings senior citizens together for prayer, tea and chat.
Sr Gert began her training to become a counsellor in 1984 and in the course of a week she would see approximately 25 individual clients for counselling, have at least 20 people in the weekly GROW groups and teach at least 25 people meditation and mindfulness. Gert’s idea of relaxation is to teach horse riding (on a voluntary basis) to children once a week.
Naturally Sr Gert was thrilled to have been nominated and paid tribute to those who have helped her make a difference to people’s lives.
“I am delighted with the nomination. It is absolutely amazing but for me the best thing about is that shows we are helping people in the community and that is what we are trying to achieve. It is recognition for the work of GROW and also the Presentation Sisters who have supported me the whole way. They put up with my quirky ways over the years and gave me the backing to make a difference,” explained Sr Gert.
The Volunteer Ireland Awards are the major annual initiative to celebrate volunteers in Ireland. The awards shine a light on the remarkable achievements of volunteers around the country by honouring them at a national level. Volunteer Ireland is proud to have President Michael D. Higgins as Patron of the Awards.