This feature is part of the Women’s Collective Ireland- Donegal, “Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Finola Brennan a volunteer at the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation. The story tells of the special bond created by all those who play a part in the success of the Centre.
Whether speaking to Members, Volunteers, Families or the Staff and Board members, there is a golden thread that links them all. This thread carries Friendship, Acceptance, Belonging, Independence, Community, lots of Fun, Smiles and Memories. Collectively they create the magic that makes a difference and enhances the lives of all.
How this magic has been created is best described in their own words.
“I feel happy in the foundation, the teen club is a place where I can go independently, I feel grown up helping the little ones and loved helping Colette and Catherine after school in the office.” (Member)
“I love to play and this place is amazing because of the garden and the rainbow wall inside.” (Member)
“I like going because Colette is the best.” (Member)
“What I like best about the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation is going to the choir on a Wednesday evening and seeing my friends also I love coming to the jiving classes on a Monday evening there is all sorts of I like to, I really loved volunteering at the summer camp it was one of the best experiences for me.” (Member)
“The Bluestack Special Needs Foundation has been a lifeline for both my son and our family. Caleb enjoys every second he spends at the Foundation and is bubbling over with excitement to tell us what he has been up to every time he has visited. From after school clubs to the choir, everything they do is done with enthusiasm and passion. They have also been a source of support for me in terms of being a listening ear during tough times. I cannot speak more highly of the staff and volunteers who enrich our lives in so many ways.” (Family)
“It means a sense of belonging or inclusion with others in a group where all are accepted for whom they are, and cared for by volunteers with big hearts.”(Family)
“It is extremely rewarding to give the parents a chance to take a much needed break for a couple hours on a Saturday morning. The kids enrich our lives as much as we do theirs. Seeing their smiling faces, interacting with them and getting down to their level leaves me with such positive energy for the day ahead, it is such a heart-warming experience.” (Volunteer)
“Volunteering is one of my best memories. The children I met at the clubs have great, energetic personalities that make you see past their disability and the one to one, allows you to get to know them all each individually!
They make your inner child come out and you enjoy it as much as they do. You never see a volunteer without a smile on their face, unless they are leaving! Volunteering gave me a sense of happiness, belonging and fulfillment! I’m looking forward to going back at some stage in the future 😊.” (Volunteer)
The Bluestack Special Needs Foundation provides support to 436 families throughout the county. Wendy Mc Carry, CEO and a staff of 42 provide one to one support and loving care to the members and also guide and support the volunteers. It now has a Saturday Club in Donegal Town, Killygordon and Falcarragh and would love to have more volunteers to help support with this expansion.
When speaking about volunteering to Catherine, staff member she said “No specific qualification is required, only kindness, empathy and a passion to make a difference. Volunteers are never on their own and have the support of trained staff at all times.
We have Teen Club on Thursday’s, a Saturday Club, Choir on a Monday and many other activities. We are always keen to hear from volunteers who have a special skill or talent and are willing to give up their time. Colette, another staff member, spoke about the Choir and how they would love to have a keyboard player, so there are many different ways including fundraising where volunteers can come and make a difference.
It is up to you how much time you give, there are no commitments, each week is flexible depending on your availability. If interested the staff would love to hear from you.
For many young students they spoke about how volunteering shaped and informed their career choice going into educational psychology, children’s occupational therapy and other health related professions.
Contact details for The Bluestack Special Needs Foundation
Visit their website at: www.bluestackfoundation.com
Email them on: firstname.lastname@example.org
They can also be found on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/BluestackSpecialNeeds
WCI-Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.