A GROUP of 14 volunteers from the United States flew thousands of miles - to help out at Limerick’s Rape Crisis Centre, and the city’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
A team of hard-working people from Arizona arrived in Shannon Airport in the week leading up to the St Patrick’s Day parade.
They came after establishing a link with the Elevate Christian Church, Limerick, based on Robert Street.
This happened after Phoenix native Justin Gearing set up the church with his wife Laura last year.
Not only did the group carry the signs representing the entries and assist with crowd control at Limerick’s two parades, they also painted a new extension to the Rape Crisis Centre in the Rosbrien Road.
Justin said the church’s aim is to try to improve Limerick.
“We are a group of people who would step up, and serve the city, without asking for anything in return. What can we do to make Limerick better?” he asked.
The group really enjoyed experiencing the culture of Limerick’s St Patrick’s Day parade, and the International Band Competition.
St Louis native Tiffany Green, now living in Phoenix, said: “I don’t think I have ever heard bagpipes in person before, and so it was really good to see that and feel it. It was really fun: we had a good time.”
Pam Hannon, of Phoenix, particularly enjoyed talking to the competitors, saying: “It was interesting to have one-on-one time, to hear about their life story. It was really nice for relationship building.”
She added Limerick’s parades are also similar to those Stateside.
“It is comparable with a lot of the bands, I see a lot of the kids coming through the parade. It is interesting seeing the different cultures. This is very similar and interesting,” she added.
The army of volunteers arrived in Shannon on Tuesday, March 12.
They spent the first few days helping out at the Rape Crisis Centre.
“This is just one of the areas we saw [where we could help]. A lot of people have been hurt due to sexual abuse. We thought this was a great organisation doing something about this. So we just wanted to step in and help them in any way we could,” Justin explained, confirming the church will work with the centre on a continuing basis.
Joni O’Sullivan, a volunteer with the centre, praised the group’s efforts.
“The guys were very good to help. We had a ‘snag list’ effectively. They painted the house, did some landscaping, and loads of other work. We very much appreciate it,” she said, “We had great fun, it was a wonderful experience.”
Although the group flew home over the weekend, they agreed it will not be long before they return to Limerick.
More information on the church at www.ecclimerick.com