Head of Penny Dinners Caitriona Twomey has been announced as Cork Person of the Month for April.
The award is to mark her outstanding contribution to the charity, which serves up to 2,000 hot meals a week and is one of Ireland’s longest standing charitable organisations.
Formally established in 1888, Penny Dinners is committed to providing the hungry of Cork with hot meals seven days a week, all year round. Services are free of charge to those in need.
The organisation has recently expanded and has begun opening at night to help Cork’s homeless. A small cohort staying at the charity nightly are engaged with Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to address their addiction issues.
Having worked with the organisation as a full-time volunteer for several years, Caitriona’s spirit in helping those less fortunate is infectious and has seen the number of meals served rise from 150 before the recession to 2,000 today.
Cork Penny Dinners has also seen a big increase in the number of families availing of their service, which includes distributing food packages to people in need.
Speaking about Cork Penny Dinners, and being honoured with this award, Caitriona said, “I am so proud to see the people of Cork getting behind such a great cause.
“Cork Penny Dinners is a vital part of our community. As citizens, we are all responsible for making our country a better place. It is our responsibility to help those in need, and I am so lucky to have such a great team behind me dedicated to this inspiring cause.”
Volunteers at Cork Penny Dinners span a variety of backgrounds, from teachers, nurses, truck drivers, scientists, musicians, solicitors, unemployed and retired people who all share a common ground in valuing the importance of helping those in need, which has been at the heart of the organisation since its founding in the 1800s, during the famine.
The service users and volunteers at Cork Penny Dinners always interact with good humour and mutual respect and all the volunteers know that sometimes a cup of tea, a handshake or a friendly chat can go a long way towards beating the loneliness and isolation.
“Our main objective is to help people achieve their dreams,” Caitriona said.
Speaking about the ongoing work of Caitriona Twomey, one of the Cork Person of the Year award sponsors, Pat Lemasney said, “Caitriona’s commitment to helping fellow Corkonians in times of difficulty is truly heart-warming. Caitriona is more than a volunteer. She is a leader, a friend, a mentor and a confidant to all who enter the doors of Cork Penny Dinners. Her positive approach towards helping others makes her a truly deserving candidate for this award.”
This award is the second coup for the charity organisation. Back in March 2019, the charity was awarded the Irish Food Writers Guild Community Food Award marking their consistent, significant contribution to Cork City’s homeless community.
Caitríona Twomey’s name will go forward with the other monthly winners for possible selection as the Cork Person of the Year 2019 at a gala awards lunch, which will be held in Rochestown Park Hotel in January 2020.