By Rose Barrett
It may a tired old cliché to say ‘there is light at the end of tunnel’, but in this case, the light is at 28 Pearse Street, D2.
The building incorporates The Light House, run by Dublin Christian Mission and No Buck’s Café run by Tiglin.
Together, the two organisations have served over 100,000 hot meals since the onset of Covid restrictions in March 2020.
Last Saturday saw the 100,000th meal served at the Light House, which incredibly often reaches 2,000 meals per week now.
For Joe Murphy, Operations Manager at No 28 Pearse Street, this is down to the exceptional support and dedication of The Light House volunteers.
Originally from Connecticut, east of New York, Joe comes from Irish roots and came to Ireland nine years ago.
“I came from a strong background in Real Estate,” said Joe. “And I wanted to get involved in charity work here. As both sets of grandparents moved to the States from Ireland, I have dual citizenship.
“Initially, I moved into Christian charity work with another organisation for two years, before I switched to Dublin Christian Mission (DCM).
“Prior to the Covid restrictions, we would have been providing a café service for the homeless. They came in and ate, got clothing or practical items such as toiletries, and could also access one on one support services.
“We served between 500-600 meals a week. However, since Covid, it’s about 1,500-2,000 per week. The volume when we went to a take-away service following health and safety restrictions meant our numbers tripled.
“We have to limit and manage our volunteers who prepare and hand out the food. But we have an exceptional core volunteer group at The Light House. To triple the volume of food to our end users is a testament to their commitment,” noted Joe.
“Then we have a variety of companies who generously donate food, usually it’s bread or meat products, rices, sauces – a variety of food products. We get financial donations from foundations, community churches, companies, individuals and other charities, etc.
“Their continued generosity is most appreciated, and heart-warming, to say the least.”
Since the outbreak of Covid here, Joe has been working six days a week.
“I live above The Light House,” he added. “And love working with these exceptional volunteers.
“Many have travelled through the road of addiction into recovery; others have experienced homelessness and some have survived both.
“This, I believe, gives them a uniqueness as they can empathise with the homeless, they understand and have experienced the difficulties our service users face.
“I think one of the challenges is that, when we serve meals and we give out personal items, we are building relationships and trust with the homeless community.
“As that trust builds, we become more effective in trying to assist our service users, to help them on a path to progress them from their current situations.”
“Covid has made that difficult because of the restrictions and necessary social distancing,” he continued.
“Dublin City Council has done a good job with providing more beds. The difficulty is that progression is dependent on trust/confidence between the volunteers and our service users.
“We’ve set up a booth at The Light House, a safe meeting environment where people can receive one on one advice.
“We will be glad to allow our service users back into The Light House, back inside when we can engage with them and build that relationship which is preferable to just handing out food and goods to our homeless friends in a queue!”
Joe concluded: “Thanks to the generosity, support and prayers of our staff, volunteers, suppliers and financial donors, we have served over 100,000 meals in under 14 months.
“You all display how much kind hearts can impact – well done! Any leftover meals are always collected by our good friend Michael who delivers them on his bicycle to the most-needy around the city. Thank you, one and all.”
The Light House is open 6 days; from Tuesday-Sunday from 4-6pm; and from Tuesday-Thursday, also from 7-9pm.
See http://www.dcmlive.ie/ or contact (01) 677 5548
Email [email protected]
PHOTO – Joe Murphy, Operations Manager with a volunteer Michael who distributes some left over food and right, Jay Bobinac