It’s What You Give, not What You Get
Fred Mudler, founder of the global Dragons’ Den-style phenomenon the Funding Network put it well when his charity bandwagon came to Belfast City Hall: “Life’s about what you give, not what you get”.
And in that spirit, the first-ever Funding Network evening in Ireland raised over £26,000 ($40,000) for five life-changing charities.
I was ‘ambassador’ for the Open Arts group which is providing the disabled with access to the arts through its choir and dance troupe. Dancer Katy and Open Arts CEO Eileen Branagh made a compelling presentation before an audience of over 100 of our civic leaders. There were equally powerful contributions from the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, Angel Eyes which works with the families of blind children, the SOS Bus and the Conway Mill alternative education programme for troubled teenagers.
Belfast responded with equal generosity to the Philippines Disaster Appeal which culminated in a special occasion of solidarity and celebration in the City Hall on Friday which featured local school choirs, a Filipino Band and members of our big-hearted Filipino community. We were honoured by the presence of my chaplains, including the recently appointed Hindu chaplain Ashok Sharma who chanted the first-ever Hindu mantra below the Dome, while Rabbi David Singer read from the Torah in Hebrew with translation to English.
It was a moving event which saw the bonds of friendship strengthened between our Filipino neighbours and the wider Belfast family while also encouraging giving to the emergency relief effort — indeed the day started at Skainos in the heart of East Belfast where I accepted a £20,000 cheque for the appeal from AES Kilroot.
Belfast gave much this week and is the richer for it. You can see photos of our giving adventures on the blog of our ‘lensman in residence’ Dónal McCann. The ‘Mo’ fell to the razor at the event but not before we had raised a total of £1100 for PIPs suicide prevention charity and the Philippines appeal. Thanks to all who donated.
Meanwhile, I head to Chicago mid-week to address the annual Irish Fellowship Luncheon, attended by 1100 people, in the city which — and I have President Obama’s personal word for this — is the capital of Irish America!