Speech at Opening of Exhibition on 80 years of Catholic Girl Guides of Ireland in Cork
We are here to celebrate 80 years of valuable contribution by the Catholic Girl Guides of Ireland in Cork.
From the Mass for the Eucharistic Congress held here in the Mardyke in 1932 to tonight’s opening of an exhibition of Guiding, the Girl Guides have been playing an important role in the development of the young ladies who have grown up in Cork.
From Cygnets, Brigin Guides, Guides to Ranger Guides the Girl Guides have provided a structure that caters for all age groups. A structure that is founded upon the Guide Law; setting standards for each Guide to try and meet.
The Guides with us this evening know that the characteristics that a Guide is to strive to uphold include trust, loyalty, consideration and courage. The Guide Law is guideline for a way of life; it instils values that should be upheld not just when you are a guide. If these characteristics are carried through in everything that you do you will be a true leader, a true friend, you will be successful in what you choose to do.
In your time in the Guides, through fun social activities with your friends, you will realise the importance of precision and direction, of looking to the future. What you do as a Guide is founded on the strength and tradition that has been set by the 80 years of Guides in Cork.
You are part of ensuring that a rich history is continued, that is relevant to you and your friends and that it will be there for girls younger than you when it is their time to become a Guide.
All of the activities that you take part in are facilitated by your Leaders. Leaders give of their free time so that you can make the most of being a Guide.
Leaders are good listeners, organisers, and communicators. Their skills are put to use so that you can learn, but you also give something back to your Leaders. You give your leaders new experiences, you allow them to know what is important and of interest to you and your friends.
Leaders and everyone else involved in organising the activities of the Girl Guides are part of a very important, and often undervalued, section of society, Volunteers. Volunteers make a valuable contribution to society; playing a key role in our social, spiritual and even our economic development.
The 80th anniversary of the Catholic Girl Guides of Ireland in Cork coincides with the European Year of Volunteering. Across Europe in organisations like yours more than 100 million people engage in voluntary activities.
In 2009 Volunteering contributed more that €5.5 million to the economy through labour costs alone. In fact it is estimated that the voluntary sector contributes an estimated 5% to the GDP of national economies. But as you all know the reason people become involved in voluntary activity is because of the economic impact it will have.
People who give of their time to become volunteers are usually motivated by altruistic reasons. They want to give back and become involved in their local community. In doing this they create and develop our society, a society that is more than economic figures, a society that has its people at its core.
Volunteering is indispensible in a wide range of policy areas. In many cases it enhances social inclusion, provides life-long learning opportunities and ensures social service delivery. The Catholic Girl Guides of Ireland provides these services to young ladies, ensures inter-generational dialogue and engendering social and civic responsibility in our next generation.
The numbers of people volunteering is increasing by on average over 1,000 per month. Last year Volunteering Ireland dealt with over 13,000 registrations, in 2009 they dealt with a similar number. Of these new volunteers 61% have never volunteered before and 68% are under 35. The age profile of volunteers is decreasing; according to 2006 census it was the 45 to 49 age group that had the highest participation rates.
The work of organisations like the Girl Guides is clearly having a positive impact; the work of the Leaders has ensured that your values have been instilled in the young girls you work with. In the same way that Leaders have facilitated the girls’ development from Cygnets to Ranger Guides, those girls have matured into adults who are now prepared, in turn, to contribute positively to society.
Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”, in the Girl Guides your giving makes many lives. Your work ensures that the guiding principles from 1907:
• To do my Duty to God and my country
• To help other people at all times, and
• To obey the Guide Law
Are continued into the second hundred years of Guiding. Locally you have ensured that these values have been upheld in Cork for 80 years and that they will continue to be guiding principles of your organisation for many years to come.