The Irish Children’s Program of Rochester is seeking families to host children from Belfast, Northern Ireland, for five weeks next summer.
The program, which is celebrating its 25th year, is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that brings to the Rochester area about 25 Catholic and Protestant children from Belfast who are between the ages of 10 and 14. According to a brochure, the program provides the children a peaceful alternative to the demonstrations and violence in Belfast that oftentimes increase during the summer months. For many of the children, it is their first opportunity to spend a holiday away from the troubles in their homeland.
Host families are not expected to change their summer routines, but are asked to provide love, room and board for the children they are hosting, and to take part in some Irish Children’s Program events, according to the brochure.
Bryan Kindlon, president of the Irish Children’s Program board, said children arrive in Rochester around July 1 and leave around Aug. 4 or 5. The program hosts fundraisers throughout the year to pay for the children’s airfare and for that of their chaperones, he said.
The first informational meeting of the year for those who are interested in hosting a child will be held during the Rochester Irish Festival, Kindlon said. Father Timothy Horan, diocesan director of priestly vocation awareness and pastor of Irondequoit’s St. Margaret Mary Parish, will celebrate Mass at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 10 near Camp Eastman in Irondequoit. The informational meeting will be held after Mass.
For more information on the Irish Children’s Program or to become a host family, contact Kindlon at 585/225-8550 or visit www.irishchildrensprogram.com.