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Sr. Gertrude Howley (2nd Left) the GROW 2019 50th Anniversary Conference.

A light for our steps

In the editorial of the special  50th Anniversary magazine of GROW Ireland it states:

“The GROW we have today owes its existence to a vast number of people who have given themselves with a complete and awe inspiring generosity and dedication.  We begin by saluting you”.

One such person whom we know very well is Sr. Gertrude Howley.

This year GROW in Ireland celebrates fifty years (1969 – 2019) of pioneering recovery, well-being and community mental health through peer support.  GROW is and has been for many years the largest mutual help organisation working in the area of mental health and recovery in Ireland. See https://grow.ie

At their 50th Anniversary celebratory conference in the Mount Wolseley Hotel, Tullow, Co. Carlow on 20th September 2019 (opened by Minister Jim Daly and hosted by the former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, Mr John Lonergan) Sr. Gertrude gave a presentation about ‘Choosing to be Mentally Well’ by using the GROW Programme.

Sr. Gertrude Howley (known as Gert to her colleagues in GROW) is their Regional Chairperson and has served on the National Executive and Program Team of GROW.  Since the very early days of setting up GROW in Ireland, Gertrude has been one of the key builders.  She is described in the 50th Celebratory Magazine of by GROW in Ireland as:

“ … an inspirational educator who passionately believes in the relevance of GROW’s message for today’s society.  Her workshops at national and regional weekends have brought to life many of GROW’s central concepts in extremely effective ways.  She is also a very real and very practical problem solver”.

The heart of GROW

The heart of GROW is in a house which has been aptly named ‘The Little Lantern’ in honour of the work of Nano Nagle – founder of the Presentation Sisters.  Alongside the group meetings, Gertrude and Chris Mulcahy run a 10 week mental health course based on GROW and Reality Therapy, they host a weekly meditation session and undertake frequent community outreach programmes and fundraisers.  It is also here that the regional team meets and here that they are welcomed with a hot meal.

“Gertrude would not be able to do all this without the constant help of Chris Mulcahy and other leaders like Mary Hennessy, Jayne Sullivan and Christine O’Keeffe who form a formidable leadership team”.

The work of GROW Dungarvan has received much recognition down the years, and this year its work was recognised and appreciated at the 2019 Waterford Mayor’s Ball.  The other two charity recipients for the 2019 ball are Waterford Hospice and The Irish Wheel Chair Association.

A wonderful, inspiring and very moving speech was delivered by Gertrude about GROW, the vital importance of GROW’s work and reaching out to those who may be struggling with their mental well-being.

Here’s to the next 50 years!  We wish you and your colleagues in GROW every blessing.

For further information on Nano Nagle today see:  HERE

(In photo:  Mr. Rob Stephen, Chairperson of GROW, Sr. Gertrude Howley and (1st right) Chris Mulcahy).

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