Volunteer coordinator, Caitríona Twomey is the driving force behind Cork Penny Dinners. Operating on a purely voluntary basis, she became involved with the charity some years ago through her father Tom Lynch. During Caitríona’s childhood, Tom would devote much of his Christmas Day to cooking hot meals for the homeless community in Cork. Then, following hours of graft, he would return home and do the same for his children . “My father never told us where he was going which only fuelled my curiosity”, Caitriona said. “I was thrilled when he agreed to let me come with him one year. From helping out I was shocked to see the number of people suffering. It made me realise how truly lucky I was.” Since then Caitríona has dedicated her life to easing other people’s suffering. Her trained background as a psychotherapist attests to this. A Cork Person of the Month award is among her many accolades. Caitríona’s teenage daughter Alesha is aready following in her footsteps after receiving the prestigious “Garda Youth Award’ for her ongoing charity work. “I believe in our ethos of being non-judgemental as that was firmly rooted in my childhood,” Caitríona said. “My strong points are many, my weak points even more. However, myself and the volunteers do a magnificent job everyday of the year. We Serve!”
Gerald Kean began his first job with the late solicitor Michael Martin in Dublin before setting up his own practice by the late 1980s.He set up his solicitor’s practice, Kean and Co., more than 15 years ago. The businessman was initially introduced to Cork Penny Dinners after volunteers invited him to participate in an event intended to raise the organisation’s profile. The renowned solicitor was only too willing to join other celebrities in the kitchen as part of a “volunteer experience.” While his duty on the day was simply peeling potatoes, he made quite the impression on service users. His compassionate nature lent itself well to his volunteering work in CPD in the years that followed. In 2014 he joined the CPD trustee board. Mr Kean is also an accomplished author. He penned a book about his experience of featuring in the first season of RTÉ’s Celebrity Banisteoir. He has appeared on numerous television shows through the years including Tubridy Tonight, The Panel and Operation Transformation.
Donella Casey is a car sales fleet manager with the Ford Motor Company. She was first alerted to the invaluable work of Cork Penny Dinners by none other than renowned singer Red Hurley. The musician was promoting the organisation at a concert in Cork Opera House, prompting Donella to sign up to volunteer with the charity. Her organisational and marketing skills didn’t go unnoticed by Volunteer Coordinator Caitríona Twomey who invited her to sit on the board of trustees a number of years ago. She has since put her skills to good use as a valued member of the team. Her passions include keeping active and reading.
Limerick native Gary Heslin felt compelled to join the Cork Penny Dinners team after learning of their invaluable work from television show the Secret Millionaire which aired almost seven years ago. The cause was close to his heart, given the number of people he encountered sleeping on the streets during a normal working day.The now retired firefighter was so touched by their appearance he decided to volunteer in the soup kitchen which dates back to famine times. Gary spent 27 years working with Cork City Fire Brigade and has also garnered much respect in the community through his voluntary work with the RNLI.
Sarah Horgan developed a love for helping others after offering her services as a voluntary make-up artist in Saint Patrick’s Marymount nine years ago. While she quit the beauty industry, her love for charity remained. She worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years before securing a job as a full time News Reporter with the Evening Echo newspaper. Her collection of work saw her nominated in the regional journalist of the year category back in 2012. During the course of her work Sarah was introduced to CPD and came to know many of its service users and volunteers. Some of the voluntary work she has conducted through the charity includes the Finding Your Voice Project which saw her teach journalism skills to three women rebuilding their lives after homelessness. All three involved had their end of term pieces published by the Evening Echo. Sarah’s hobbies include filmmaking, styling and coordinating fashion shoots.