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Ozanam Club says thank you to volunteers for 30 years of help

The Ozanam Club celebrated its 30th anniversary with a Mass on November 25 at St Bernadette’s Church in Motherwell — by Colette Cooper

The Mass, for members of the St Vincent de Paul Society, was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell Diocese who spoke of the important work of the SSVP in his homily.

Plaques were given to members (pictured right), including the club founder, James Lynch, in order to commemorate outstanding work in the community since 1989. The club was founded in 1989 by James after he and his wife adopted two children with Down’s Syndrome.

The Ozanam Clubs provide activities for children and adults with disabilities and are a Special Works Conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

 

Spiritual celebration

The SSVP Diocesan President, Pat Carr, said: “This was a fantastic spiritual celebration for our members, and it was great to recognise the role of the Ozanam Clubs in our diocese.”

James Lynch said: “The Ozanam Club is for adults and children with special needs. The first club started in 1989, and because it was in the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, I named it after Frederic Ozanam (the original founder).”

He said: “At the beginning [the club] did grow quite well, there were eight clubs altogether, but [it was] not getting enough helpers and so it fell away a little bit.

“We have an adult club that runs every Thursday—we go on outings—and one in Carfin on Mondays for children with special needs. The one in Lanark isn’t there now, but there’s a big club in Paisley that runs every Friday, which won the Queen’s Award, and a small club in Dundee.”

 

Strengthened Faith

Mr Lynch added that the club has made his Faith ‘stronger,’ and that God gave himself and his wife, who has now passed away, ‘the chance to do something like this.’ He said: “It’s only my Faith that’s given me the strength to keep going.”

The club takes part in various events and outings.

“We were at a pantomime in Motherwell, we bought 100 tickets with members and helpers. We do some outings like to M&D’s [theme park], so it’s not always just in the club. It’s not just for members, but for the parents who need the break,” Mr Lynch said.

He added that the club was a ‘new thing’ as the Saint Vincent de Paul Society has never before run a club for those with special needs.

 

Volunteering

“We always need more volunteers, that’s the only thing that keeps the club going. It’s a lot harder to get volunteers as they have to get through quite a lot [of training]. I hope people still want to come and keep these clubs going, I want more to start again. I’d like it to carry on when I’m gone.

“A lot of helpers and people come from different areas. Because of a shortage of helpers, [they] have to travel from distances, like from Cumbernauld.”

Mr Lynch said that, as well as having a Mass for the Ozanam Club’s 30th anniversary, they also had a ‘celebration of St Vincent de Paul’ in May, with a cake.

“We had people who have been there since the very first night of the club, it’s good to show people that they are appreciated. [There are] lot of non-Catholics too who are happy to spend their time in the Ozanam Club. It’s nice for us in the Catholic Church to say thank you for the work—even though they’re not looking for thanks.”

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