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Every Saturday morning for 36 years, Mary Corbett got in her car and for two hours, delivered Meals on Wheels Community Catering meals to the people of Galway. She delivered thousands of meals to hundreds of people over the years, made some great friends, and has some extraordinarily wonderful memories. Mary recently retired due to a fall, and says she misses her Community Catering clients.

“Over time, you make a lot of friends. Some of the people were great fun altogether. People-wise, it was lovely, and some of the people, I miss them like the dickens. I’d love to ring them up and see how they’re doing. It was so much part of my life, it was very hard to let go.”

Having spent her whole life working full-time, while also volunteering, Mary initially became involved with Community Catering as she believed it was a worthy cause – something she felt that she would like to contribute to.

When she retired from her day job, she continued to volunteer, and looked forward with even more enthusiasm to her Saturday COPE Galway Community Catering run. “There was always a great feeling of satisfaction when I came home on Saturday at lunchtime and I had done something, especially after I had retired. If you do a bit of volunteering, you don’t feel the time. Also, it teaches you a lot – it teaches you how lucky you are, because some of the people who have used the service really couldn’t help themselves. The world I grew up in, you volunteered because you’d like someone to do it for you. It’s been good. I was blessed to be able to do it too.”

To those who have some spare time on their hands, and who would like the opportunity to get involved in community work, Mary says; “I would absolutely recommend volunteering to anyone. You’ll get so much out of it, you’ll be surprised. It’s very satisfying to know you’re making a difference in people’s lives, and you make friends too. Apart from that, you volunteer the time you want to volunteer, which can be just an hour or two a week – whatever you can offer.”

While Mary enjoyed the social side of meeting with the clients of COPE Galway Community Catering, knowing that the service serves such an essential and beneficial need was also something that appealed to Mary. “People need one good, nourishing meal a day. That’s really all you need. It’s wonderful – that’s what nourishes you.”

Those who have availed of the service throughout Mary’s time volunteering for COPE Galway have been of all ages, of all situations, and all backgrounds. Probably the most common reasons for those to sign up to the service is being unable to cook for themselves any more due to an illness, those who are recuperating, or simply for those who would rather get a cooked meal delivered to their door any day, or every day, instead of cooking. “A friend of mine, when she had an accident, and broke her right arm, she started using Community Catering. She was getting the meals on a regular basis. Several people I knew would use the service. I’d always think, ‘Good for you, you remembered to do it!’

For almost four decades, COPE Galway and its clients have benefited from Mary’s dedication, time, energy and compassion. In return, Mary says she’s gotten much more than she ever imagined from her time with the service. “If I was reversing my life and writing my CV, I’d be very proud to have that at the top of it. High standards, by golly. There’s a lot of people, like me, who are getting on in years. They’ve been soldiering on for years and they’re still there. That’s the thing about COPE Galway – you want to stay.”


COPE Galway has been providing social services in Galway since the 1970s, with the hundreds of volunteers who have given their time over the years at the heart of the work that COPE Galway does. Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the organisation – from the Board of Directors, the community services and the network of fundraising events. If you’d like to be part of something bigger, join COPE Galway’s 250-strong volunteer community to create a positive change in your community today. Visit, call 091-778750 or email

COPE Galway is running a new initiative during Positive Ageing Week (26 September – 2 October) to help bring meals to older people. ‘€1 More Brings a Meal to the Door’ will run in a number of hotels and restaurants across Galway. The aim is to raise money by offering an option to add €1 to the price of their meal to support COPE Galway Community Catering Meals on Wheels for older people. For more information, visit

If you or a family member would like to avail of COPE Galway Community Catering Meals on Wheels service, you can contact them on 091-700800. Visit for further information.