After she retired, Mary Maher wanted to get involved in volunteering as a way of giving back. She also thought that it could add some structure to her week.




Her attention was drawn to a sign looking for people to volunteer in the Irish Cancer Society charity shop in Kimmage, Dublin. She went in to enquire and, after talking to the manager, Mary signed up to do two half days in the shop every week. “It was the best thing I ever did,” the retired nurse says.

Mary has been volunteering here for four years, and on occasion in the Irish Cancer Society Shop on Camden Street. Her days in the shop are varied and her tasks range from sorting donations to working the till and doing some general tidying up. “At this stage, I’ve been doing this for so long, you just know what needs to be done,” she says.



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"I’ve made new friends since I’ve started and it’s given me a different outlook on life." 

Mary Maher 2

A personal connection also played a part in influencing her decision to sign up as a shop volunteer. Both her parents passed away from cancer, and when her father was ill, Mary and her brother were helped by an Irish Cancer Society Night Nurse. “It was so good to have someone that you knew you could trust in the house, and someone who was kind of detached from what was going on,” says Mary. “We had other family that would have come or stayed up and let us have a rest but it just wasn’t the same thing. Whereas the Night Nurse could come in and say ‘go and have a lie down and if anything changes, I’ll call you’. I will always remember that.”

Mary says that volunteering in the Kimmage shop has opened up a whole new world for her, including the relationships she has formed with fellow volunteers. “I’ve made new friends since I’ve started and it’s given me a different outlook on life,” she says.

She missed working in the shop when it had to close during lockdowns, and there was great joy amongst clientele when the store’s doors could open once again. “It was manic both with customers and sales. It was nearly like meeting your family that you hadn’t met for so long,” Mary says. “I find there’s a great loyalty to the Irish Cancer Society, in terms of people who donate and people who volunteer as well. When we reopened, we had people coming to us with donations telling us that they would only donate to this shop, and often it’s because they have that link to someone who has had cancer.”

She is happy she didn’t hesitate about going into the shop to ask about volunteering on that afternoon four years ago. “I’m glad I just did it because I have never looked back since I started,” she says.

Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.

Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm

Roz, Cancer Nurseline

For more information

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