As I write the August bulletin message, our first annual Saint Patrick’s Appeal is just $994 away from reaching the fantastic sum of $100,000. The original goal we had set for the campaign was $75,000 and when we started out on May 18th it seemed like a long way away. Now three months into the fundraising drive we have surpassed our own internal expectations and are happy in the knowledge that people in the Irish-American community want the Irish Center to survive into the future. The support you have shown us informs us that we stay focused on the preservation of the Irish Center’s future and continue to plan for an expanded offering of events later on when this pandemic is in the rear view mirror. We all long for that day!
The funds raised though the Appeal (Thank you to our business donors and all the individual pledge pages and donations) in conjunction with the three new businesses we started this spring-The Irish Shoppe, Food To Go and Wawona Gates Beer Garden, will help the Center come though this incredibly difficult period. Ask anyone in hospitality industry right now and you will hear the same statements about how income, business and traffic is way down, the Irish Center is no different. But we have stemmed the tide and building towards our future again.
We have made considerable efforts at adapting and pivoting our business model to stay afloat. For that I have to tip my hat to the members of Board who have steadfastly worked what can only be described as miracles to guide us through the past four months. I am profoundly amazed at your dedication and loyalty to our Irish Center.
“Bualadh bos” (Applause) to Molly and Mark Burke and Josephine and Paddy Brogan for spending their entire weekends at the Center supporting the Wawona Gates since we opened in June! Other board members have also stepped up along with many volunteers who have supported Wawona Gates since inception-which is a wonderful and safe space tucked away from the wind blowing in off the Pacific Ocean. Thank you to Tom McKeon and John Ring for the great leadership in designing and implementing the St. Patricks Appeal, which continues right though until Thursday September 17th. There is still time to contribute!
Our hope is that we can make some additional upgrades and changes to the Center that are needed related to deferred maintenance. We recently upgraded our internal and public Wifi systems, and we have a new server in the pipeline to support our internal software updates and cloud accessibility platforms. All these necessary upgrades cost money and are part of the invisible costs people do not see. We also had a new protective metal fencing installed around the T-Mobile pad in the rear parking lot, which was made possible when T-Mobile made some recent bandwidth infrastructure upgrades.
However as a board, we are very cautious right now with regard to any major expenditure-knowing full well that the day will come when a new roof will be soon required-the present roof is 45 years old! We are also exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof (which would reduce our PG+E bill by $1,000/month) along with new weatherized HVAC and Heating system units on the roof. Adding these upgrades alone could reach north of $250K. In addition, we are carefully monitoring and adhering to the City, and State guidelines and directives which relate to businesses that currently offer outside dining. We are open three days a week Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Wawona Gates is our only operating income right now, so do come out and support us this Summer.
The UICC building spans 20,000 square feet and since March, our team has been working hard and diligently to get it organized for when we will re-open later this fall. One of the big projects that we are working on, is the conception of the San Francisco Irish History Center. One plan is to open up the library into the Saint Francis room and create a place that promotes and shares the stories and the history of the Irish in San Francisco. During my recent interview with Elizabeth Creely, at the Consul General’s office, I stated, “That’s our history. If we don’t give it meaning, it won’t have any. Our history will be lost.”
Do you have photos from Saint Patrick’s day celebrations and parade, a brochure/flyer from an AOH/LAOH meeting/gathering, a ticket stub from a KRB dance, old dance shoes or costumes that you would like to have honored that preserve the cultural history of the Irish in San Francisco. Maybe you have something from the “Ole Country” that you brought with you and would like to have it displayed at the Center. If you would like to donate an artifact, ephemera or photos, please contact me at email@example.com or call the Center and leave a message for me.
We have been working on creating plans for the near future. Our hope is that we can have small gatherings in the Saint Patrick’s room with tables spread out and entertainment on the stage or on the screen. In addition, there is discussion about San Francisco History days and Robert Emmet Remembrance in September. In addition, we are hopeful that we will be allowed to have the Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones come back and play in November. Fingers crossed. Again a lot is up on the air please check our website or Facebook for updates or call the Center 415-661-2700.
Please continue to stay safe and healthy. Please wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your social distance this will help to ensure that we can all go back to some sort of normalcy.
Till we meet again,
Anne Cassidy Carew, President of the UICC