Yvonne Heneghan, Emily Quinn, Blanaid Ward. Karen Cahill, Niall Quinn, Hannah Smith, Shane Walsh, David Hogg, Ben Carpenter, Olivia Gavin and Audrey Moran at the coffee morning organised by the Muiríosa Foundation.

Muiríosa team host coffee morning for North Westmeath Hospice

A coffee morning at the Muiríosa Foundation’s new hub in Robinstown on Thursday raised almost €500 for the North Westmeath hospice, and, importantly, also helped further the aim of the hub: “community engagement and integration”.

There was a lively atmosphere when the Examiner visited, as the students and staff mixed with guests and took turns on duty serving the tea, coffee and scones.

The foundation has purchased the building and it began operating in September, so it’s still in the bedding-down stage, but already it is clear that the five-strong team and their school leaver clients are working well together, building a foundation that will support greater numbers in the years ahead.

Olivia Gavin, New Directions manager at the unit, said: “The whole ethos is community engagement and integration – this is a base and from here we do all our courses in the community, working in the community, volunteering in the community, and as well, we are an outreach service for people who don’t want to come in.”

Olivia’s colleagues Yvonne Heneghan, social care worker, and Karen Cahill, instructor, said that the new Robinstown hub is one of several Muiriosa Foundation centres in Mullingar, and they are supporting 10 adults with additional needs to “reach their potential, to see what their strengths are and to develop independence”.

One of those young adults is David Hogg, who was serving guests, something he is well used to from his work at Chocolate Brown. David (19) is more active than most people; he is doing the theory test in preparation for getting a driving licence, and he swims and goes to the gym (Club Active) several days of the week.

He has already represented Ireland in European competition in Special Olympics swimming, and is weighing up career options as diverse as personal trainer, bar work, and Broadway.

Part of the thinking behind hosting the coffee morning was – apart from helping the hospice – how it encouraged the students to get out and about as they contacted individuals and businesses around the town to invite them to attend and to make donations for (supporters are: Dunnes, Eurospar, Centra Robinstown Garage, Niamh at the Gingerbread Cafe, SuperValu, Annebrook Hotel – Berty Dunne and chef Liz Garry – and parents and staff).

Karen said that the purpose of the centre is further education and developing independent living skills.

“Our focus is getting people to that point, getting people out into the community, to experience it like everyone else and being part of it, and like today, giving back to the community.

“That’s something we want to do more of, so we’re seen as positive members of the community, doing our part, giving back to people less fortunate than us.”

`Michael Jones and Ethan O'Flynn at the coffee morning Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Monica Quinn, Shirley Walsh and Bob Keating at the Muriosa Foundation. Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Emily Quinn and Hannah Smith on Thursday. Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Kay McDonnell and David Horgan at Thursday's fundraiser. Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Claire Donnolly and Lisa Norris at Lough Sheever Business Park. Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Catherine Stalenburg, Pamela Reynolds and Pauline Dolan on Thursday morning. Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Niall Quinn and Blanaid Ward from Mullingar. Photo by Thomas Gibbons
Tarlach Tiernan with Hannah Smith. Photo by Thomas Gibbons