Student volunteers- Bringing Galway ALIVE for ten years

On Wednesday, March 27, NUI Galway ALIVE Volunteering Programme celebrated ten years of promoting civic engagement at the annual ALIVE Certificate Ceremony in the Bailey Allen Hall.

More than 1100 students were presented ALIVE Certificates, which are Presidential Awards recognising extra-curricular activities including societies, sports clubs, campaigns, committees, volunteering, Mentoring programmes, Class Reps and student radio.

Over the space of ten years, 6,000 NUI Galway students have given 240,000 hours of voluntary activity, with an estimated worth of €2 million to the local economy. Additionally, students have directly raised over €2 million for a wide variety of community organisations and charitable causes.

GAA All-Star, author and founder of Soar Foundation Tony Griffin was the guest speaker at the anniversary Certificate Ceremony. Galway City Mayor Councillor, Terry O’ Flaherty also attended the ceremony to acknowledge this year’s student volunteers and commemorate the tenth anniversary of ALIVE. There was even a six foot cake!

The ALIVE programme was the first of its kind in Ireland and its success has inspired other third-level institutes across the country. Established by the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), it aims to harness, acknowledge and support the contribution University students make to Galway by volunteering.


Cillian Moran
1st year Arts, from Co. Galway  
I first received my ALIVE Certificate when I was in fourth year of secondary school, for taking part in the Big Brother Big Sister Programme. I really enjoyed mentoring, it was so rewarding to see the younger students grow and develop their confidence with our help. After a while my Little Brother stopped coming every week! But I still turned up just in case he needed me. Since then I have volunteered in lots of new ways, such as with the SU and college societies. I was elected as Auditor of our Labour Youth branch even before I got my CAO offer! Everyone around college seems to recognise my face already. To me, volunteering is about helping individual people, and then branching out from there. It really gives you the chance to see all walks of life. I think that the more you put into volunteering, the more you get out of it, and the more enjoyable and interesting it will be for you. If you put a serious effort in you will get so much out of it. It’s great to go home at the end of the day and say you contributed something to other people, you did something worthwhile.


Rachel Kelly
2nd year, Speech and Language Therapy, from Co. Offaly

I volunteered with the Belarussian Orphanage Project for a week over the Christmas. I held a tea morning to raise the money for the trip. People’s kindness and generosity was overwhelming. We spent the week visiting different orphanages for children with intellectual disabilities. I was a little bit nervous beforehand but it melted away when I met the children. They were so cute and so happy to see us; they knew our red t-shirts meant fun! We gave them presents, brought them on outings and played sports and games. I had a great time teaching them how to play hurling, and seeing the excitement on their faces when we brought them Happy Meals from McDonalds. They were so appreciative of everything. The experience really opened my eyes to the way people with disabilities are treated in other cultures. I would definitely recommend this project. Even if you don’t have much experience, there are loads of people out there to help you, and as soon as you meet the kids it’s all worth it. I’m already planning my next visit.

ciaraLaura Staunton
2nd year Civil Law, from Co. Galway

Volunteering with the GSPCA is an important part of my week. I have loads of pets at home, so I love being around animals, especially cats. My few hours a week volunteering at the Cattery relax me a lot. I don’t realise how much I’ve been learning from it until someone comes in to adopt a cat and I have answers to all of their questions about training, medicine and meal-times! My favourite part of the work is seeing animals arrive in bad condition, get better and then eventually find happiness in a new home. It’s a really happy moment but it can be hard to say goodbye too. The GSPCA rely a lot on college volunteers so it’s hard for them when students go home for the summer. I keep up my weekly hours during the holidays since live close enough and I can get the bus into the city. Volunteering is easy to fit it into your schedule. You can work it around your timetable and put yourself down for a time that suits you. Giving even a few hours out of your week is very rewarding.

conorConor Lane
3rd year Public and Social Policy, from Galway

I have been volunteering all the way through my time in college, with societies, local organisations, the university radio station and newspaper. I have received two ALIVE Certificates and will hopefully be getting my third this year. The presentation ceremony is the icing on the cake. Everyone comes together to celebrate what they’ve done, it’s so nice to be a part of it. Volunteering gives you a great sense of accomplishment. It has taught me that having a positive attitude around other people makes all the difference, and that when you’re bored, there is always something useful you could be doing with your time. I believe that studying in University is a privilege, and volunteering is a way to pay back that privilege. As a result of my experience in student media, I was chosen to take part in the U.S. Embassy Dublin Youth Council, which was launched at an event in DCU last December by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was a great honour that felt like a reward for all the hard work I’ve done.

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