Rainbows only appear with sun and rain…
A heartfelt thank you to all our sponsors and donors.

As I sat down to write my message this month, I contemplated the idea of membership. I currently subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus, and let’s not forget the monthly cable subscription to Comcast. These companies all deduct monthly payments from my checking account and provide unlimited entertainment options.
Our membership for the United Irish Cultural Center is $13 a month or $150 a year and, as board members, we are commonly asked what does anyone get for their membership?

Well, just prior to the pandemic, we were actively developing and planning member events, a program for member discounts and other membership benefits. Presently, a paid membership allows you to vote at UICC elections and to step up onto the Board and carry on the legacy and tradition of the “Irish Center”—the present building on 45th Avenue in San Francisco being one of several that has been established in San Francisco since 1870.

You are not just representing the present UICC but also the tradition of being a steward to the gathering places and houses that have served the Irish since shortly after the Gold Rush era. It is quite an honor and a great responsibility to hold that special nugget of history in our hands, and well worth the labor of love.

And so as we enter the final quarter of 2020, I feel it is incumbent upon the present Board to highlight the role our sustaining members played this year in supporting the Irish Center. We acknowledge your kind words of encouragement during the shutdown and the moral support provided to us when we opened Wawona Gates, kick-started a community wide fundraiser, now known as the St Patrick’s Appeal, and for coming out to volunteer and lend a hand to get us off the ground. It’s been humbling when I think of all the hours people have spent behind the scenes to help us. The Irish American community has rallied around us, and for that I’m truly grateful.

As a thank you to all our active members—we have are making this October “Member Appreciation Month” and dedicating October (9th, 10th & 11th) to our members at Wawona Gates with giveaways and thank you gifts all weekend long. We will have Irish music and Irish dancers as well.

Other intrinsic benefits of becoming a new member or renewing your membership are:

  • Investing in the Irish Center so that it remains open for years to come so that your children and grandchildren and future generations can use the space to celebrate their Irish heritage.
  • Helping to maintain our 20,000 square foot building.
  • Investing and supporting the traditions of the Irish Center and the Patrick J Dowling Library
  • Investing in perpetuating Irish culture, and bringing the community together and building partnerships.

Every $13/month or $150/year is part of a greater lift to the Center.

Our goal for the Center is of course to keep it going. But what does “keeping the Center” going really mean? It means looking at ways we might be able to expand and grow. It means asking some hard questions and hearing the even more difficult answers. It means taking time to step out of our comfort zone to implement change, when change feels risky and creates discomfort.

As a board, we must look at all possibilities and options for the Center. We are currently speaking to building professionals who might have differing perspectives and thoughts that may be outside the box to some, but worth listening to as they may stimulate new ideas for the Center’s future. It is a crucial time. It’s a time of great change and time for reflection on what has stood to us in the past. It’s a time to cast an eye towards the future and what that may bring.

Stay tuned for an opportunity to be a part of an advisory committee for the UICC.

Membership is only one way for you to invest in the Center. The Saint Patrick’s Appeal is another great way to help sustain and guarantee the future of the UICC. To date we have received 450 contributions and raised $118,456, and with under 100 days left in the appeal we hope to reach $150,000 by December 31st. We as a board are so grateful to everyone of those contributions—big or small. We are grateful to Tom McKeon and John Ring who have worked together on this fundraising project. Look for Tom’s new fundraising video online (IrishCenterSF.org) featuring new historical photographs and audio that will make you smile. The progenitors of the Irish Center would be proud of what we have managed to accomplish this year. Long may the great stewardship of the Irish Center continue in our wonderful Irish-American community.

As a board, we are committed to stretch every dollar to keep the Center alive. No gift is too small. We are thankful for every member who continues to support the Center. We continue to hope that you are all safe and keeping healthy. We are counting the days till we meet again in person at the Center—inside, having a few laughs, listening to music and enjoying our golden nugget. I invite all our members to drop in to Wawona Gates during “Member Appreciation” month to and allow us to say Thank you all very much! (Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir!).

Just remember, there’s a saying that at the end of a rainbow there is a pot of gold, but the rainbow only appears with sun and rain …

Anne Cassidy Carew, President of the UICC