UICC Members are our First Class Passengers

First Class Passengers — During the early months of the pandemic – former board Treasurer Craig Viehweg commented one evening in a board meeting that he was amazed at the consistency of the community donations to the Irish Center – more especially while we were shuttered due to the SF public health order. Craig said – “Our members are our First Class Passengers.”

Can we survive? — Craig had come to this conclusion after evaluating the early economic impact of being closed between March 12 and June 19th, 2020. He identified the consistent dues paying members as the one shining bright light in our monthly net assets. At the time the board was actively figuring out how to reduce our fixed costs, pay the bills, and more importantly stave off liquidation of the Center which has been the bastion of the Irish American community for almost a half century. Craig alerted the board that we had enough saved in the bank from our herculean efforts in 2019 (our rescue year) to survive about 6 months without securing or identifying any additional new funding. The Center he said would close for good on Sunday, October 18th, 2020 based on his in-depth scrutiny of the numbers. It was all very sobering to hear.

I am certain that the CEO’s in boardrooms of corporate airlines across this country ensure that their first class passengers are treated like royalty. These passengers are those that remain with their preferred airline for a longtime and are happy to pay the highest airfares for the extra privileges that first class airfares bring to these seating assignments.
Airlines offer all kinds of membership packages to retain and keep customers happy in the cut throat world of airline membership programs. Airlines can offer their premium customers – airport lounges, expeditious movement through security, complimentary pillows, blankets, food, and beverages, wider more spacious seats, and dedicated airline staff to cater to all their high flying customers preflight and in-flight needs.

UICC Member Benefits — While the UICC can’t help with airline security lines – we do offer many benefits to our membership program. A UICC member can get member discounts on rental spaces, early bird access and discounts to ticketed events, the chance to serve on the board, reduced rates to educational classes and summer camp programs, and in some cases free access to events. You can also attend member meetings that are held quarterly with the board and you can also vote on UICC related changes to the bye-laws as they arise. In addition, there is the knowledge that you are also financially supporting and belong to an exclusive club that is one of only two Irish centers west of the Mississippi (the other being in Phoenix, AZ).

Liam, I want to help you! — I often get a tap on the shoulder while I’m at the Center from people who say, “Liam I want to help you and the Center.” I love getting to hear that as my impulsive response is – “Are you a UICC member ? If not, then that’s a great place to start to help the organization and by contributing $13/month online you can build up your level of support from there. Thanks to all those who have signed up recently when I have encouraged them to be a member!

The monthly dues are a great source of regular support to help cover the cost of maintaining a 20,000 sq. foot facility here in the city. The member dues are an important part of our annual budget and without this financial support we would have to scale back some of our programming and decline some of the opportunities we get to showcase up and coming shows and talent touring the US from Ireland from time to time.

Original membership numbers (such as Charter members) provided to the early financial supporters of the current 1975 building are highly coveted and much revered by Irish American families whose parents or grandparents were responsible for building the Center. These families cherish the chance to transfer their families number and membership type as part of their families legacy and connection to the current Center.

Are you a UICC member? — Many people think they are active “members” of the Center -but only dues paying members (annual or monthly contributors) are considered active members. They are the ones that can benefit from being a UICC member. So ask yourself – are you an “active” member? Not sure ? Get in contact with us-or fill out the membership form in this month’s bulletin and send in your annual dues payment of $150 to the Center.

Mary Lou McDonald Visit — Several board members met with Sinn Féin President during her visit to the Bay Area last month. Events in Sonoma County, Treasure Island, USF, and here at the Center -where she toured the Dowling Library, and observed a presentation of our 2025 Project. A packed St. Patrick’s room witnessed McDonald deliver a powerful speech about the bright and hopeful future for the island of Ireland. Overall – a great occasion to have a wonderful representative from the Irish government here locally. We may be 6,000 miles away from our native land or our ancestral home for generations but the strong bonds we have to Ireland transcend well beyond the statement “I’m Irish”.

Emigrant Support Program — The UICC proved successful in its grant application to the Irish government for support of Cultural Programming ($55,000) and the Patrick J Dowling Library ($13,000) for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. This financial support will allow us to continue to build and expand our cultural programming here at the Center.

Oktoberfest — It’s that time of year for our autumn festival with an International flair as we celebrate the food, culture, and beverages from Germany on October 15th. Doors at 6pm with dancing, games and music by The Internationals.

Belfast Homecoming — Calling all those with a connection to Belfast to come along to hear a presentation on the Belfast International Homecoming 2023 by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. Wednesday October 19th at 7pm in the Members Room.

Dublinesque — Eamonn Flynn and friends are back for a Halloween music special on Oct 28th in the Emerald Room.

Emerald Society — Emerald Society President John Hallisy and our friends in Bay Area Law Enforcement return to the Center for their annual dinner on Oct 29th. Congratulations to Commander Rachel Moran, Officer of the Year; Paul O’Driscoll Citizen of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Award SFdD Officer (ret.) Nick Shihadeh.

Halloween Story Time — Storyteller Máire Clerkin is back for a kids story time on Saturday Oct 29th from 9.30-10.30am. Register online.

Liam Reidy