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Reward Your Hero - Catriona Twomey, Cork Penny Dinners

Community 3 min read

22 Dec 2020

For the hand holders and hot-meal deliverers; the bedside carers, the grocery packers and stackers. For the ICU cleaners, late-night workers, and tear wipers – for the generous, the kind; for the lovers and the fighters. For the inspiring deed, the courageous idea, and the selfless act – for all those who made an heroic impact. This is for our Heroes of 2020.   

As part of our Christmas season here at the credit union, we wanted to recognise the heroes of 2020. In what has been a turbulent year of suffering, illness and loss for many, it has also shone a light on the everyday heroes in our society. Our Reward Your Hero competition had the aim of rewarding these heroes for their work and dedication to others in 2020.

Our first winner was Catriona Twomey, CEO of Cork Penny Dinners. Catriona leads the charges in Cork supplying those who need it with food and a safe place to come if they need advice. Cork Penny Dinners is a warm dry place in the heart of Cork City with a welcoming atmosphere. The premises is open to all 7 days a week all year round, No questions are asked, no judgements are made.

Describing the work they do, Cork Penny Dinners say “All our services are free of charge to those that need them. Our friendly volunteers ensure that our service users are well looked after on a daily basis. Our door is always open, we never judge, we serve”. Their ethos is “sometimes a cup of tea, a handshake or a friendly chat can go a long way towards beating the loneliness and isolation that is a big issue for many that come our way”.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life; nurses, truck drivers, scientists, general operatives, musicians, teachers, students, solicitors, unemployed people, retired people and clergy. Our volunteers are made up of many different nationalities, but what we all have in common is empathy for our fellow human beings and a willingness to offer a hand in support. Service users and volunteers at Cork Penny Dinners interact with good humour and mutual respect always.

When speaking about winning this award, Catriona Twomey attested the success of Cork Penny Dinners to the volunteers who work tirelessly for the cause. “These are the real heroes, we’re all equal. Granted I make the decisions, but I make them with everyone in mind”. Catriona Twomey emits a calm tone when working in Penny Dinners, something which sets the tone of a welcoming and safe environment for all who visit.

The difference Cork Penny Dinners make in society is immense. Catriona and the team know they make a difference, but are determined to keep going and make an even bigger difference to the people they serve. “We know that we make a difference, but we try to make a bigger one by highlighting mental health, addiction and poverty. There are so many gaps in society and we make it our mission to fill these gaps”.

When asked what it meant to win the award, Catriona describes how she can’t help but smile! “The prize-money will make a huge difference, when you get the phone call to say something like this is happening, you know all you can do is smile from ear to ear. For people outside of your organisation to recognise and reward the work you do, it really is special”.

You can check out the fantastic work Catriona and her team at Cork Penny Dinners do here.