The inaugural meeting of the Westmeath Volunteer Club of the Niall Mellon Township Trust was held on Tuesday February 24 in the Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar.
The Niall Mellon Township Trust operates a year round house building programme providing quality social housing for impoverished families living in the townships of South Africa and has built 11,000 houses since its inception in 2002.
There was a large presence at the Westmeath meeting and Charlie O’Kelly, director of fundraising at the Niall Mellon Township Trust, said, “The charity gets a huge amount of support from the people of Westmeath and we are delighted to have our inaugural meeting of our Westmeath Volunteer Club. We need volunteers to help us at home, as well as abroad. Our amazing building blitz volunteers have achieved so much over the past seven years. However, there are many other ways that people can help us, even if they cannot travel. We want to grow the charity and the volunteer club is a very exciting development for us as we need people’s help to achieve our goal of building 25,000 houses in total for the poor families in the townships by 2010.”
The Volunteer Club was launched on the building blitz in November 2008, with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu becoming the first official member. The principle purpose of the Volunteer Club is to encourage volunteers, their family, and friends to help the charity in its efforts to provide quality social housing to impoverished people living in the townships and also give them a network to keep in touch with each other and share their experiences, ideas, and support of the charity on an ongoing basis.
Commenting further, Mr O’Kelly said at the meeting, “It is with your help many young children and families are now living in decent houses, without your help they would still be living in shacks struggling to survive in unacceptable conditions”. At the end of March, 500 Irish people will travel to Paarl in Cape Town, and two volunteers from Westmeath will be joining in the efforts to build 75 houses during the charity’s one-week building blitz.
Local businessman Christopher Corroon has been appointed chairperson, ably assisted by Maura Maher as club secretary.
Membership is free and is open to past volunteers, current volunteers, friends, and supporters of the charity. If people are interested in joining they can do so online and download an application form from the Niall Mellon Township Trust website at www.irishtownship.com/htm/Volunteers htm or contact Jimmy, Charlie or Emer on (01 ) 4948200.