This time last year we faced an uncertain future as the Irish Center was temporarily closed in the run up to Christmas and well into the New Year due to the Shelter in Place mandated by the local Public Health Dept.
We had survived very challenging times all through 2020 and for the full year before that in 2019. During 2019 the Center was only opened for community based events, and we relied on the Board, and many volunteers to host member activities that have been part of the community calendar for decades. We were essentially in rescue mode to keep the doors of the center open and keep the bills paid. We managed to do that throughout 2019 as we steadied the ship, and I think that stood to us in 2020 when we faced even greater challenges with the outbreak of Covid-19. The rescue effort at the Center continued all through 2020, and into the early part of 2021.
By the spring of 2021 like most cultural nonprofit institutions across the country, we entered into recovery mode as lockdown restrictions were lifted and a sense of normalcy returned to the community. The doors to the Center were opened again to our members to reactivate the building. While we were shut down, we used the time wisely to examine our current facility and started to think about the future of the organization and the structure itself. After a few planning meetings it didn’t take long for consensus between the Board and a group of dedicated members in the community that an entirely new building may be the way forward, to satisfy the needs of our expanding membership and the state of the physical structure itself.
The idea of a rebuild and the construction of a new building to reinvigorate the United Irish Cultural Center was presented to the membership at a public meeting on May 7th. There was broad support for the ambitious redevelopment project presented to the community by the architects Studio BANAA, and the Building group, spearheaded by Redmond Lyons and Leo Cassidy. All summer long the building plans were redrawn to accommodate all that the community wanted in the new building.
The landmark destination building at 45th and Wawona when completed will be a beacon for the Irish American community to be extremely proud of and a legacy gift passed on from this generation to the next. I recently read all the minutes of the meetings for the original UICC Building before and after it was constructed and the same sentiment can be heard from those pages, as I am writing now. Won’t you join us now and be part of this ambitious redevelopment project and invest in the future of our community. It is going to take participation of the entire village to realize this new endeavor. Won’t you help us get there? Reach out and ask how you can help?
Membership Drive —The board has worked tirelessly on building relationships with the community by reconnecting hundreds of Irish and Irish Americans to what will be our future home for many decades to come. Our membership roll has almost doubled in two years from 750 in 2019 to 1400 this year. There are many more potential members out there and I encourage you to join us for the next chapter in the history of the UICC. Give the gift of membership this Christmas to a family member or loved one.
Sign up at: https://irishcentersf.org/membership/
Unsure of your membership status? Take a moment to bring your membership up to date if you have allowed it to lapse. Email: email@example.com to find out your status. Thank you in advance for your sustaining membership dues.
Annual Appeal Letter — Friends and members of the Center will receive an Annual Appeal letter in early December encouraging a year-end gift towards the ongoing Operations Budget. We had a terrific year of cultural programming activities in 2021. For our first ever Irish Summer camp we had 40 local elementary school children participate in a fun filled camp, which culminated in an amazing concert in the St. Patricks room last June. We increased the number of Irish Dance schools teaching class at the Center to five schools. Soon we will offer the younger members of our community the opportunity to learn Irish music and participate in Irish singing lessons. That is expected to kick off in January.
UICC Endowment Established — The Board has authorized the establishment of an Endowment Fund with $100,000 of funding from excess operating funds. A committee is working diligently to get the fund opened and funded before year end and to hire a top notch investment advisor. This is another step in the right direction for the future sustainability of the whole organization as we set aside funds for a rainy day and to support additional cultural programming endeavors.
Cork Club Dinner Honoree — North Cork native, Tim Murphy (originally from Dromtariffe) former Past President of the UICC (1978-79), is being honored as the 2021 Corkman of the Year on Saturday December 11th. Tim celebrates 60 Years as a member of the Rebel Cork Benevolent Association, a fraternal organization established here in the city in 1883. It is great to have the Rebel Cork Dinner return after a hiatus last year due to the lockdown.
Library and Scholarship Raffle — Community members were mailed tickets for the annual raffle fundraiser to support the Leo T. Walsh Educational scholarship fund and the Patrick J. Dowling Library. Please mail your tickets back to the UICC back before December 16th when the draw takes place live online during the Biscuits and Books Library Show.
Save the Date — An Irish Christmas Show (As seen on PBS!) returns to the Center on Saturday December 4th for a 2pm Matinee Show. Always a great show for families and kids in the run up to Christmas. The Young Dubliners play Saturday December 4th indoors starting at 7pm. Looking forward to January 2022, the “Keepers of the Steps” Irish Dance Exhibition opens Thursday, January 13th and runs through January 31st. The John and Maureen Kennelly Memorial Feis takes place on January 14 thru the 16th. We host Phil Coulter in concert on Saturday, February 5th, while Eileen Ivers is the highlight of the St. Patrick’s Weekend musical offerings with her concert slated for Friday, March 11th. Tickets for all events are online at www.IrishCenterSF.org
The UICC rescue was a success, the recovery is nearly complete, and the rebuild is underway for 2022.
Happy Christmas to all our friends, supporters, and members. Stay safe!
Liam Reidy, President