I will be doing my bit to spread the word about the opportunity for investment in the North when I travel to San Francisco and New York at the end of the month in my role as Finance Minister. But I will cap a busy week of official engagements on Sunday 6 November with a jog accompanied by 50,000 others through the famed five boroughs of the Big Apple in the annual New York marathon.
I will be running for WINwhich is the largest provider of shelter and services for homeless families in NYC. At the helm of that life-transforming organisation is the formidable friend of Belfast Christine Quinn. No better person and no better cause to pound the streets of New York for, in my book. My target was $2500 and I have donated $1250 of that amount but thanks to the generosity of attendees at the annual New York-New Belfast conference back in June, we have already passed that target and sit at $3,500. So it’s time to raise the bar and set $6,000 as our new target.
Tonight, nearly 60,000 people will sleep in New York City’s homeless shelters. 80 per cent are families and 20 per cent are children 5 years old or younger. These families work long hours and make sacrifices few of us can fathom, all to give their children and grandchildren a chance at a better life.
You can help WIN break the cycle of poverty by empowering homeless families via my fundraising page here.
I loved the Henry Ford quote on teamwork which 2016 Spirit of the Diaspora Award recipient Jim Clerkin included in his address to this week’s Belfast International Homecoming: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success.”
Good advice for the local Executive and as good a motto as any for the Fresh Start in the relationship between the North and our loyal diaspora — work which is being pioneered by Andrew Cowan of Northern Irish Connections.
Belfast was abuzz this week as Lord Mayor Brian Kingston hosted delegations from sister cities Nashville and Boston while delegates to the Homecoming came from as far apart as Adelaide and Jersey City, Pamplona-Irunea (home to the Running of the Bulls) and West Allis, Wisconsin, Guernsey and most notably prominent entrepreneur Marie Macklin from Glasgow.
The atmosphere in the city was buoyant, the mood optimistic. And there was a determination to cement even closer relations with the 70 million globally who view Ireland as their homeland.
As Jim Clerkin said: “We all need to be fiercely loyal to each other and to remain connected at home and in the diaspora.”