Unveiling After-School Stem Courses at the Center

The Center’s range of kids’ programs is undergoing a dynamic transformation and expansion. Building on the triumph of our recent Irish summer camps, I have long envisioned an augmentation of our children’s educational offerings at the Center. With a facility that remains underutilized from the early afternoon until the evening, when music and dance instruction takes over, a remarkable shift is on the horizon.

Community Driven Programs — In the preceding summer months, I engaged in several dialogues regarding an after-school program at the Center with dedicated members and parents, Adrian and Jaime Fox. Thanks to their committed involvement, starting this September, the Center will launch a comprehensive 12-week array of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) after-school courses tailored for local children, spanning from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. The enthusiastic response from parents has been overwhelmingly positive, and we anticipate accommodating more than 60 children every Monday and Wednesday afternoon.

Engineering For Kids — The courses will be expertly taught by the esteemed San Francisco-based institution, Engineering For Kids. Their captivating and hands-on educational curriculum aims to acquaint young learners with the wonders of the engineering discipline. Recognizing that proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math forms the bedrock of numerous contemporary careers, the course offerings (ranging from engineering to coding) are all about instilling a sense of excitement in young minds about their future prospects.

A Glimpse into the Future — When I contemplate the architectural plans for our forthcoming 2025 building, replete with dedicated classroom spaces, one’s imagination takes flight, envisioning the immersive experiences that youngsters will encounter within a cutting-edge, modern “smart” facility. Picture robotic creations crafted by kids traversing the stairs between the building’s first and second floors—an inspiring glimpse into the potential.

On the Homefront — As a parent of four children, a significant portion of the latter part of last month was devoted to preparing them for the start of the approaching school year. This encompassed numerous trips to the school supplies store, acquiring fresh white-soled sneakers, expeditiously completing summer reading assignments, and even embarking on an out-of-state journey to “drop off” one of them at school.

Our family embarked on a journey across the Rockies to the eastern Colorado town of Golden. This town gained prominence in 1873 when beer brewer Adolph Coors established the original Coors brewing empire there. Much of the campus was built by the Coors family over the last century and a half. My son, Shane, is now a student at the School of Mines in Golden with a plan to major in Computer Science and Engineering. Much like countless other youngsters his age, he’s adapting to life in a new town.

Anyone for Banjo? — One of the initial priorities was figuring out how he could continue his banjo education while away from home. A brief search of the Denver area revealed the presence of several Irish music sessions, including one close to Golden at Clancy’s Irish Bar in the suburb of Wheat Ridge (only a 15-minute ride from Golden). We visited this establishment and met with the resident banjo player Pete Strickler, the host of the Wednesday night session. Pete lives and breathes the banjo, and as a teacher of Irish music he encourages others to join him in sessions. Talk about Shane landing on his feet and meeting an esteemed another banjo living so close to his new school! Hup!

2025 Project Volunteers — The 2025 Project team are looking for help with website management and video editing. Know anyone that has those skills and would like to help out? Send an email to: marketing@irish-centersf.org

College Prep Seminar — On September 13th the Center will host a college prep seminar for 11th and 12th Grade families with Peter Baxter. Info: 510-213-8072

August Blood Drive — Thanks to all who came out for the SFFD Blood Drive! Because of you we ended up with 29 donors registered and 26 donors who donated. We collected 19 whole blood and 7 2RBC, so 33 lifesaving units were collected! This means we collected 99 lifesaving units for the hospitals and helped up to 99 people! Way to go! Thanks to SFFD organizer Jeff Marcaletti and a crew of volunteers who worked to turn the UICC into a lifesaving machine!

Liam, It’s Jerry Here! — My last paragraph for this month is dedicated to Jerry Cassidy, who suddenly passed away on August 5th. “Liam, it’s Jerry here!” Those were the words Jerry always used to greet me whenever he called, seeking my assistance at the Center. Whatever volunteering bug Jerry caught during his years at the Center, he certainly passed it on to me. More often than not, the tasks turned out to be far more time-consuming than the mere 10 minutes Jerry had initially estimated. If it involved painting, Jerry paid close attention to how I held the brush or roller. I recall a time when I undertook the task of refinishing the wooden stalls in the men’s restroom that had fallen victim to graffiti. It was quite an effort, and when I finally completed it, Jerry offered his gratitude. Jokingly, I asked, “Where do I ‘cash’ that thank you?” With a mischievous glint in his eye, he replied, “Your reward will come in due time!”

The United Irish Cultural Center held immense significance in Jerry’s life. Photographs lining the hallway depict him laboring alongside his lifelong friend Dan McAuliffe during the construction of the center. Together, they ran a painting business for over 40 years. I can scarcely imagine what it must have been like for someone with such a profound and unwavering connection to the Center for five decades to witness its struggles back in 2018. Since then, I’m certain he found solace in witnessing the recent resurgence of the Center’s fortunes and the unveiling of plans for the building in 2021.

A mere two weeks prior to his passing, Jerry was on the phone with me one Friday, discussing the need for some grease on the entrance gate hinges at Wawona Gates. He followed up that conversation on Monday to inquire whether I had addressed the issue. Indeed, I had. I contacted Mike Bowler, and with the combined efforts of Mike and Joe O’Leary, the gate now swings freely, devoid of any creaking sounds.

Sincere sympathy to his daughter Anne, son Gerald and wife Sally.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam” (May his soul is at the right hand of God).

Liam Reidy, President