Local volunteer, Sr Veronica Gilsenan, has been announced as a nominee in the prestigious Ireland Involved Awards with Specsavers, taking place on Thursday November 5 at the Royal Kilmainham Hospital, Dublin.
Nominated in the Health and Disability category, Sr Veronica visited her local Specsavers store yesterday to thank the staff and the local community in Athlone for their tremendous support for this nomination.
Forty-five years ago Sr Veronica set up the Irish Wheelchair Association in Offaly when she helped a young boy who did not want to return to school in Dublin enrol in the local primary school.
She was ahead of her time in introducing equal opportunity, and has overseen the work for the holidays, social outings, and Christmas parties for over 40 years. She also visits the disabled and helps them obtain their entitlements while seeing to their physical needs.
In 1990 Veronica organised fundraising activities to purchase a bus, which has since enabled disabled people to travel all over Ireland, and also organised social and community outings. Two years ago she almost lost her sight, and since recovering has continued her work among the disabled. Over 90 years old now, she is committed to the disabled at all times and has brought positive changes to the lives of many people.
The Ireland Involved Awards aim to showcase and celebrate the work of volunteers across Ireland and the good they do in their communities and internationally.
With so many highly educated workers unemployed, statistics have shown Irish people are turning to not-for-profit work and are using their skills and qualifications to better the wider community.
The awards honour 10 individuals, in 10 different categories, at a dinner hosted by the Taoiseach’s Office, and joined by President Mary Mc Aleese in Dublin. One of those 10 will then be selected to go on and represent Ireland at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Saturday December 5 2009, International Volunteer Day.