Sometimes you go in circles with a career before it feels right. I had owned an ad agency for eleven years before changing careers in 2001 and going into fundraising. I can now say that I feel like I have come full-circle careerwise and I am making a difference for something I have always believed in, my heiritage and my beliefs.
I am working for a Benedictine Abbey in County Galway, Ireland. Being 100% Irish-American and strongly believing in "faith-based fundraising," I feel lucky to do what I am doing.
I am currently in Ireland for the month of June; this is my prespective on why Irish-Americans are so important to Irish causes, especially this one:
Many people have visited Kylemore Abbey in County Galway through the years without really understanding who really lives there and who is responsible for this historic site. They believe the Abbey must be prosperous because tourists buy a ticket to get onto the grounds, buy some lunch, take pictures and get back in their car or on the bus and "say that was really beautiful" and move on to the next site.
The real story? Behind the picturesque castle and gothic church are the Benedictine Sisters who struggle on a daily basis to maintain and preserve one of Ireland's most historic places. They are doing all they can but is isn't easy- they personally live a spartan existence while they work for the Abbey and the surrounding community.
The famous boarding school and day school for local girls closed in 2010 but the sisters are not deterred. They are planning on a new Education Center to be built for college level classes in Irish Studies on the grounds of Kylemore.
So far the U,S.-based fundraising efforts for Kylemore have been through the generosity of the Fordham Law School Alumni in New York, our committee raised and met our goal on St. Patricks Day for the New Education Center! This made the campaign committee feel good about their hard work and made me feel really proud about what I am doing with my career. This was only a peice of what needed to be raised, but it came from the U.S. and we helped!
With the schools reunion taking place a few weeks ago on June 7th and 8th, there was a sense of ownership and promise from the alumnae that they can also help make a difference for Kylemore Abbey and the sisiters who live there.
In fundraising there is always more to be done and now we are looking to replace or repair all the windows of the historic castle. These are the orginal windows that have leaked wind and rain for decades. Honestly this is something that Irish Americans will be interested in: to help the funding efffort and possibly have their family name on a new window in the castle as a supporter of Kylemore Abbey. We will keep up the work to help the sisters witheir mission of spirituality and service.
I love my job!