From Youthful Passion to Seasoned Leadership:
Shaping the Future of Our Center

As I observe the bustling activity at the Center throughout November – filled with celebrations, diverse classes, and engaging events – it strikes me how rich our offerings have become. Amidst all this, what truly ignites my enthusiasm are the programs involving children. We now host STEM classes after school three times a week, provide education in Irish music and dance, and have introduced a Kids’ Reading Hour at the Library, drawing a thriving crowd each week. Our annual summer camp welcomed 75 kids last June, and throughout the year, we’ve showcased numerous Irish dancers from the community as part of our cultural programming.

A Vibrant Hub for Kids — Without a doubt, the Center has blossomed into a vibrant hub catering to the younger generation – an incredible transformation considering previous perceptions of limited offerings for children here. Among our middle-aged community members, many fondly reminisce about days spent racing around the center as children, while their parents dined in the adjoining dining room. Though those cherished moments remain as memories for the time being, we eagerly anticipate a future where we can once again welcome entire families within a few years, following the Center’s reconstruction. Investing in and embracing children within the Irish Center is critical; they embody our future stewards, board members, musicians, dancers, and supporters. Their presence today ensures the enduring vibrancy of our legacy tomorrow.

Today’s Juveniles to Tomorrow’s Seniors — Recognizing that today’s juveniles are the seniors of tomorrow is fundamental for securing the Center’s long-term sustainability. Actively engaging and investing in the younger generation fosters a community that not only thrives presently, but also lays the foundation for a dedicated, knowledgeable, and supportive senior community in the future. Their involvement today shapes these youngsters into the pillars that will uphold the continued success and sustainability of the Irish Center for generations ahead.

Talented Youth —This year has marked remarkable progress in our music program, particularly with the influx of talented youngsters embracing the tin whistle and fiddle through our youth music initiative. Notably, five budding bagpipe players have transitioned to practicing on actual pipes, while others have embarked on their journey into drumming. Our facility witnesses over sixty dedicated Irish step dancers honing their craft each week during regular practice sessions. It’s evident that securing the future of the Center hinges on our ongoing commitment to nurturing and investing in the potential of our youth.

Join Our Team — Embark on an extraordinary journey with us: become a vital part of a once-in-a-lifetime movement dedicated to rejuvenating the Irish Center. Now is the moment to take action. Whether it’s signing up as a new member, renewing a lapsed membership, or actively participating in our building committee or fundraising team, your involvement matters greatly. Our journey has been remarkable thus far, and your support will drive us towards new heights. Together, we uphold tradition and guarantee that the vibrant Irish essence flourishes in San Francisco for the generations ahead. Join us in shaping our legacy!

What’s Ahead for 2024 — Several live musical acts have already been planned for the spring. Included in the Center’s lineup are: Aoife Scott, Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones, Patrick Ball, Vince Keehan, Paddy Egan & Nicola Stathers, Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman. Artist exhibitions, an Irish dance residency, three week summer camp, traditional music festival, third annual music Fleadh, Rock the Gates, and much more are planned for next year.

Line Dancing Classes — Several members of the community suggested we host Line Dancing classes here at the Center, which is very popular across this country and at home in Ireland. Over 60 people turned out in cowboy boots and western attire for the first class on November 16. Next class is Thursday December 21.

December Blood Drive — The SFFD Community Blood Drive takes place on December 13 from 8am to 12 noon. Last September’s Blood Drive collected 33 units of blood which helped 99 people.

Annual Giving Campaign — At this significant time of the year, our Annual Appeal donation forms have reached the doorsteps of our valued members, inviting support for our year-end giving campaign. Your generous contributions are the cornerstone of our ability to sustain and enrich our Cultural Programming activities. We deeply rely on your philanthropic spirit to continue nurturing and promoting the vibrant cultural experiences that define and unite our community. Your support ensures that our programming remains robust, engaging and accessible to all, fostering the celebration and preservation of our cherished traditions.

Library and Scholarship Raffle — Many thanks to all those who have purchased and returned raffle tickets in support of the Patrick J. Dowling Library and Leo T. Walsh Scholarship programs. The lucky winners will be announced on December 31 in the Library.

Annual Boutique — Local artisans, vendors, chocolatiers, and crafts people will have plenty of Christmas gifts to offer at the Holiday Boutique on Saturday December 16th. Festive holiday music by David Austin. The Irish Shoppe will be fully stocked with a large range of Irish biscuits and chocolates.

Thank you — Best wishes to board directors Tom McKeon and Kathleen Kraus who are stepping away from their roles on the UICC Board at the end of December. Tom has been involved with the Center for the past 25 years, the most recent five years as a board member, and a volunteer for the first twenty years. Kathleen was our Human Resources lead for the last three years. Thank you for all your help behind the scenes!

Members Meeting — On Thursday December 14 at 7pm, the UICC Board will meet with UICC members during the Christmas Social for the December meeting. Come and hear how the Center performed in the past year and what is planned for 2024. The UICC will celebrate 49 years on 45th and Wawona in 2024.

Merry Christmas — On behalf of the Board of the Center I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Liam Reidy, President