I have always found it difficult to say no fundraisers involving charity, especially for those organisations in the City which had made a major impact upon the lives of the local community.
On a number of occasions I have found myself well outside my comfort zone in marathons, dance floors and hot coals. They have all been amazing experiences as you build up friendships with fellow participants and become privileged enough to witness some of the hard work and dedication needed to support and maintain the vital life changing work of local and national charities.
This week in particular when I read about the ‘Brides across the Bridge’ initiative for the Foyle Hospice I was sure I was safe. Even in today’s world of equal opportunities I thought there was no way I could be possibly caught for this particular event. Whatever about wearing white robes, a white wedding dress would be a bridge too far. Borrowing the words from a famous movie blockbuster from the 1970s, ‘Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water’, I made the mistake of inviting two friends in for coffee last weekend. The two women are involved in the organising committee of the Trench Road Folk Group otherwise known as the ‘Folk Group Mammies.’ They comprise of a formidable group of ten women who possess various expertise and experience and who in a fundraising crisis are invaluable. Great at multi tasking and organising they have been able to make silk purses out of some of the pig’s ears I have tried to create in relation to sponsored events.
Every now and again I try to repay their generosity and hard work although members have become suspicious even to offers of free coffee knowing there is no such thing as a free lunch. However on this occasion it was my good self who ended up collecting the tab in relation to the next adventure on the fundraising calendar.
One of the folk group mothers works in a local department store where the hype and excitement had been building all week in relation to the Brides across the Bridge world record attempt. Some women had organised wedding receptions, others had booked limousines’. Not to be outdone the ‘Folk group Mammies’ were going to have their own priest. I was summoned during the week to the dress fitting and photo shoot as a kitchen of a house was turned into a fashion parade as ten women made minor adjustments due to the onset and side effects of being in their middle to later years.
Needless to say I was then stuck in the middle of a photograph with ten brides afraid to breathe for fear of spending another half hour being coaxed into a dress. Thankfully I was wearing glasses which offered some protection from stray buttons or any other flying objects. I never laughed as much in my life!
There is nothing like being involved in charity events and fundraisers which brings out the best in people. Giving money is the easy part but giving up you time, showing dedication, commitment and not being afraid to humiliate yourself or take yourself too seriously for a good and worthwhile cause somehow transforms and changes us for the better. The momentum, energy and dynamism generated carry people along and you become caught up in a tidal wave of good will and generosity. Suddenly in such an atmosphere you think and feel that all things are possible and certainly as a Church we need to highlight the positive impact of being caught up and transformed by the Spirit of the Risen Christ.
As brothers and sisters united in Christ there is a responsibility to carry, support and encourage one another to enable all God’s people to feel welcomed as men and women valued and respected for who they are. United in a common faith we need to know we aren’t on our own. We can feel overwhelmed by the size of the problems we encounter in life. If only we could remember our baptismal calling and recognise how as God’s children we are energised through the celebration of the sacraments.