A little bit of History
The Early Days
Footprints Women's Centre boasts a proud history of Volunteering spanning over 30 decades. During that time numerous volunteers helped to establish a strong tradition of giving and self-help at the heart of the centres work; today this remains as alive as ever.
Spurred on by the unconditional support of local Parish priest Father Patrick McWilliams, the women organised as a group in the late 80's and worked alongside Sister Mairead Bradley in developing plans for the opening of a women's centre. Patricia Firth, founding member of the group recalls, "Mary McNeill called to my house to collect the Parish draw, she invited me to a meeting in Cloona House with Sister Mairead and a group of local Women about setting up a Women's group. That was 1989 and just the beginning."
When the centre opened in May 1991 it was all hands on deck and as Mary McNeill fondly remembers "There were about ten volunteers then, and we assisted in the daily running of the centre in admin, childcare, kitchen and general reception/office work. We were all very aware that the women coming in were in need of support so we completed basic training in group work, listening skills, assertiveness and anything that cam up that was beneficial to help in working with women."
Franky McNally, a lifelong friend of the Centre, facilitated a lot of the early training and continues to be a valuable support to the centre.
A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO PATRICIA FIRTH - A DEDICATED VOLUNTEER
As a founding member of Footprints Women's Centre Patricia Firth has given over two decades of absolute commitment and service to the Centre. To many she represents the spirit of Volunteering that Footprints aspires to and fully reflects the ethos of the Centre in everything that she does. No Job has been too small or great for Patricia, including washing dishes, cleaning, offering a listening ear, performing in Sister Act, chairing the board of directors and having tea and biscuits with the President of Ireland at Aras an Uachtarain.
In an interview for the Centre's newsletter, Patricia highlights Cross community work as something that she enjoyed, particularly her work with Corrymeela and Seymour Hill Women's Group. Above all else Patricia's presence is steadfast and unconditional - she is passionate about ensuring that Footprints holds onto its roots and for this we thank her. This selflessness and commitment to others is something that Footprints knows will inspire other volunteers and is worthy of a special tribute.