Pictured above: John with wife Catherine and son Tom at the opening of the Jack and Jill Charity Boutique in Artane, Dublin.
At Jack and Jill, we are committed to providing a high-quality, transparent and credible service that truly cares, underpinned by an organisation governed and managed in line with best practice and overseen by our Board, who are essentially, unpaid volunteers.
To celebrate Trustees Week, we want to pay tribute to our wonderful Board, past and present, who have given their time, dedication, energy and commitment to Jack and Jill over the past 26 years.
Here is John O’Leary’s Jack and Jill and Me story from our 2022 Annual Report, which we’re proud to say is up for a Carmichael Good Governance Award later this week!
“My journey with Jack and Jill started 12 years ago when our youngest son, Tom, was born with a rare chromosome disorder and heart condition, requiring specialised support and home nursing care.”
His condition is rare, the uncertainty around it huge, with no clear prognosis for his future, meaning his mother Catherine and I had no sense of where we were going. It was a really stressful time for us and had actually come as a bolt out of the blue.
Then, our Jack and Jill Liaison Nurse Manager, Sinead Moran, appeared like an angel out of nowhere. Sinead led and we followed, and she continues to guide us today. In those early days, Jack and Jill really got us out of a black hole. They were a lifeline to our family, as we navigated the difficult journey of dealing with Tom’s significant care needs, while juggling work and family life.
John with his son Tom who is a Jack and Jill graduate
John cuts the ribbon on the Jack and Jill Charity Boutique in Artane, Dublin with CEO Carmel Doyle, Head of Retail Deirdre Walsh, Shop Manager Noeleen Galvin and Stacey Bohanna Retail Area Manager
There is no other child in the world like Tom. No one could say if he’d walk or talk or what the milestones were likely to be. So, we had to fast become experts ourselves. Building up his muscle tone was something I could work on, setting up his own little training circuit at home.
Today, Tom walks rings around all of us and he won’t let anyone hold him or his curiosity back.
Yes, he’s had more than his fair share of hospital admissions, approximately 70, but he continues to thrive in his own unique way. The support he’s received from Jack and Jill, ChildVision, and now from Saint Michael’s House, has made a huge difference.
His brother Jack is determined to get Tom into the Special Olympics someday and while Tom hasn’t found his voice yet, I know he’d say a big yes to that!
John attending the launch of the Jack and Jill x GPA partnership event in 2023
I got involved as a Board member of Jack and Jill in 2015. I wanted to use my skills and my GAA network to support their work after all they had done for our family. Volunteering is something I’d encourage others to consider and it is great to see so many GAA players getting involved, with local community at the heart of both organisations.
I was also very proud to welcome my former bank colleague, Brendan Lynott, onto our Finance Sub-Committee last year. Showing where the money goes is so important and it was a great honour to see Jack and Jill win a Good Governance Award from Carmichael.
As a Board member, another highlight for me in 2022 was attending the opening of the Jack and Jill Charity boutique in Artane. It was a very special day meeting the shop manager, Noeleen Galvin, and the team of volunteers and seeing the impressive range of clothes donated – many brand new – and the shoppers there to pick up a bargain while helping a good cause.
As a charity, we are determined to get onto a fairer footing in terms of HSE funding and to build on the extra funding secured in 2022. For me, there is too much negative rhetoric about the healthcare system in Ireland and we should shine a light on where it is working well and replicate that right across the country.
The child- and family-centred approach of Jack and Jill works and it is in line with the patient-centred approach being aspired to across the whole healthcare system. This can’t come fast enough I know, but as a wise man once said, ‘Don’t keep watching the clock. Do what it does – keep going.’ And that’s what we’ll do.”