March update on February

March 1, 2021,

To ICLF members, volunteers, affiliates, staff, community and board,

Upon settling back into life after my time in Ireland and my subsequent 14 day quarantine, I am delighted to share with you all what we have decided, achieved and done in the last month or so.

With guidance from the City of Phoenix, we made the continuing difficult decision to extend our closure to the public through to the end of February with further discussion about March reopening planned. Staff are continuing to work from home as much as possible, only coming onto the property when necessary, with safety protocols in place. 

The Finance Committee has focused on finalising our 2021 budget with priority on operating cost and retaining staff. 

The Emigration Support Team continues to provide the community with support and enquiries related to VISAs and COVID-19 travel restrictions. We have also had a growing interest in connecting with Irish businesses here in the Valley so we will continue to leverage the Irish Community Facebook page as well as INAZ and our affiliates. 

Families have also requested that we offer more sports involved programs so we will continue to partner with the Phoenix Gaels Football team for our Summer Camp and future Academy options.

The Retail Space Committee has been meeting with local Irish run business owners discussing a business plan and working on securing contractor quotes. The space is 600 sq ft and has great potential so we are exploring all options in order to utilize the space in the best way possible. The committee meets once a month to discuss details and plans to continue the momentum forward. 

Our St.Brigid’s Day Sunrise Breakfast and Mna na hEireann panel went great with special guest Maria Walsh, 2014 International Rose of Tralee and now MEP, joining us to discuss this day and the importance of women in Irish culture and religion along with other amazing women from our community here in the Valley. 

We are now looking forward to our St.Patrick’s Day Virtual Faire celebration in partnership with the St.Patrick’s Day Parade and Faire on Saturday March 13th. The day will be celebrated with an 8 hour telethon type concert hosted by the 2020 Arizona Colleen with performances from local Irish bands, international artists, news from the McClelland Library and more.

The McClelland Library book drop box is still in place outside the gate of the campus. Every Wednesday you can organise to pick up a pre-reserved book from the library or drop off the books you have already back into the box so they can be redistributed. This is a great opportunity for the library and community and this process will remain in place after COVID-19 has passed. 

Our 3 priorities to continue in 2021 are to establish an (1) ICLF Endowment (2) Emigration Support Program (3) Retail Space. Each of these goals have been actively growing in progress throughout the temporary closure of the center. 

I will be alternating using Zoom and onsite for our Thursday meetings depending on what the staff needs. I am very grateful for everyone’s continued support. 

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates. 

Contact me at leslie.thompson@azirish.org 

Be respectful of the past, realistic about the present and optimistic about the future