More than 150 people crammed into Linden Grove on the evening of Tuesday 29 November to celebrate the 25th anniversary Annual General Meeting of Kairos Community Trust.
The band formed especially for the occasion – the Linden Grooves (Vince, Gabriella, Petra, Tommy, Hester and Ricky) – kicked off proceedings with a poignant version of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab. They interspersed the rest of the evening’s programme with songs by Bob Marley, Phil Collins, Coldplay, Bill Withers and U2.
Hanora Morrin, Chair of Trustees, welcomed everyone and got official business underway by introducing Trustee Paul Carter, who reported that financially we are going strong and set fair to start another 25 years, and that looking after the houses and the people in them remains the focus of the Trustees. He thanked Dorothy Woodward-Pynn (Admin Manager) and Oye Oke (Finance Controller) for all their work. WSM Advisors Ltd were again voted in as auditors.
Mossie Lyons, Kairos Director, spoke movingly about how Kairos has grown as a response to need and how over 25 years we have built and nurtured a caring and effective response to peoples’ need. We haven’t got a blanket solution to the problems of addiction, he said, but we have the skills and the heart to help each individual discover their own recovery. Respecting and valuing each person restores self-respect and personhood, he suggested. As an example of such people, he congratulated several (James, Lee, Brian and Tommy) who are 10 and 19 years sober respectively this autumn.
The John Kitchen Award for Outstanding Service in Kairos was presented to David Newman, for helping his friend and one-time fellow-resident, Michael, aged 80, return to Ireland after 13 years with Kairos. David has given much time to care for his friend Michael and to resettle him in a retirement village near Galway (see The way home to Portumna).
Mossie thanked Marsha Dunstan for her the work on The Gift of Time, the book that marked 25 years of Kairos in words, drawings, poetry and photographs. Kairos is proud of this record of its achievements, he said.
He went on to list some of the high points of the past year: the Kairos Community Conference in July was a great success and he thanked Dr Michael Kelleher and Dr Michael Heneghan for their contributions. Then there were pilgrimages to Lourdes and Medjugorje and the Buckfast Abbey retreat; the Golf Day in October; Elaine Anderson-Wright’s run in the Brighton Marathon for us. Kairos had shared the joy of Angie and Michael McCulloch’s marriage, and the sadness of David Nimmo’s death.
Louise Russell, support worker at Linden Grove since 2004, has recently retired and Mossie thanked her for her many kindnesses, including the flowers that she bought and arranged on the tables every week ‘’out of the goodness of her heart”.
In a fitting finale to the evening’s announcements and celebration of 25 years of Kairos Community Trust, our founder and guiding spirit Father John Kitchen looked back at 1991, starting his speech with the words, “I had a dream…”
The particular historic dream he went on to tell us about was his vision of the lame, the bandaged, the damaged and the drunk striving to climb a mountain. Mossie, the Trustees and he himself were there among them, no more or less important than the others. It was the ordinary people who make up Kairos who are the most important people, he said.
He reflected on the days, from 1991 to 2003, before Supporting People Funding was available to us, when the focus of the Kairos effort was always to find enough money to keep going, and keep the roofs on the houses and food in the bellies.
Post-2003, the emphasis changed and there was more time and money in the system to move towards increasing individual health and recovery, and Kairos has grown very skillful at this, too.
Father John pointed out that he had been Director during the first part of the journey and Mossie the Director for the second part, and that the Trustees had been there all the time and had had to fight with both of them!
On that happy and humorous note, the formal part of the evening gave way to the food that Sandra Ginnelly and Toddy O’Donnell had so wonderfully prepared, and the Linden Grooves played on into the evening.
Happy Birthday, Kairos, and thank you to all…