Home Youth service After 35 years of volunteering, Declan has youth in his DNA

After 35 years of volunteering, Declan has youth in his DNA

Mayor Daniel Buler presents his award to Declan Reale.

“Young people are in our DNA – come Friday night, no matter what, they were the most important thing.”

This is how Declan Reale told the Limerick Post about his 35 years of volunteering at the Clonlara Youth Club.

Declan was among a group of people honored for their volunteer efforts by Limerick Mayor Daniel Butler and Limerick Youth Service (LYS) who recently held a Volunteer Celebration Night at his Community Training Centre.

In Declan’s time with the club, he helped organize hikes, outings, swimming, games and all kinds of entertainment for youngsters up to 18 years old.

“I made some fantastic friends and met four presidents while I was with the club,” he said. “We have had very dedicated leaders who came while their own children were members but stayed after their children left.

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“Some of the members went on to become club leaders or leaders of other community organizations. At one point we had three generations of one family in the club.

Thanks to her involvement, Declan returned to school in 1993 and graduated with a degree in community development from University College Cork.

The youth club has been closed since the Covid outbreak and the membership profile has changed, with mainly fifth and sixth graders now joining.

“I’m retired now but the club is regrouping and looking for new leaders,” Declan said. Anyone interested can contact Limerick Youth Service.

The presentation night was an opportunity to recognize 11 volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the lives of young people across the Mid West.

Limerick Youth Service chief executive Fiona O’Grady said: “Over the years, LYS has relied on the support of volunteers across a range of projects and programs including youth clubs, the center community training, fundraising and our board of directors.

“We would like to thank you for your hard work and commitment to the young people of Limerick.”

The volunteers received a plaque from the mayor, who thanked the recipients “for all you have done for the young people of Limerick”.

“It is a great privilege to be here and to have your achievements recognized, especially after the difficult few years we have had,” added Cllr Butler.