Sixteen student athletes & staff from the University of Central Florida (UCF) are today putting the finishing touches to a special community project that took place this week in the Lourdes Community Hall in Sean McDermott Street.
The team ‘touched down’ in Dublin on Monday to participate in this week long mission in advance of the Croke Park Classic American Football match which takes place on Saturday, August 30th when UCF play Penn State University at GAA Headquarters in their opening game of the season.
The students worked with Habitat for Humanity Ireland, Croke Park staff and members of the local community to help renovate Lourdes Community Hall on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin 1. The students from UCF are part of the university’s “Knights Without Borders” programme which gives an opportunity for the university’s student-athletes, staff and administrators to journey on international service-learning trips; which provide cross-cultural experiences and develop a sense of world unity for all involved. Speaking about the week long mission in Dublin, UCF student Cody Castillo said: “The work we are doing not only helps the look and the condition of the building, but the community".
Alan Gallagher, Croke Park Head of Operations spoke about the initiative: "This has been a great experience for our staff to work alongside the student athletes of UCF and Habitat for Humanity Ireland and the local community to make such a difference to a very important community space". While Vinnie Cunningham, Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity Ireland spoke about the importance of the programme. "Projects like this are important. They show what can be achieved through the power of partnership, when individuals work together for the benefit of a community and it's wonderful to see a group all the way from Orlando, Florida making such an impact here in Dublin".
Local resident Christy Fagan who also runs the Sean McDermott Street Tae Kwon Do club from Lourdes Hall spoke about its important place within the local community: " It's a very important amenity for the local community and we have struggled with limited resources over the past few years. To be here today and see the new lease of life the UCF students have brought to this hall, it's incredible".
The Croke Park Classic Community Programme is the culmination of several months of planning & fundraising by the students which started in late 2013, when the University of Central Florida, Habitat for Humanity Ireland and Croke Park came together to identify a community initiative located near the stadium that they could all work together on. Croke Park, through its annual Community Fund, has supported community groups using the Lourdes Community Hall in Sean McDermott Street since 2009 and working in partnership with these community groups, Dublin City Council, Habitat for Humanity Ireland and the Knights Without Borders, the community programme to coincide with the Croke Park Classic was developed.