Originally from Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Elaine Ryan Kennedy is the director of development with GOAL USA. She moved to New York in 2009 and lives in Harlem.
How did you get involved with GOAL?
“Growing up in Ireland, GOAL was a household name. I was always fascinated to hear about the amazing work that GOAL carried out in some of the poorest and most dangerous countries across the globe.
“I first met GOALies (aid workers) when I was visiting a slum in Nairobi several years ago. The school needed some help to fix their water system. The GOALies came in and sorted the problem. GOAL did the job very effectively and helped provide safe water to over 100 students and teachers.
“I felt proud that an aid agency that was founded in Ireland was having such a huge impact on the daily needs of this community.”
Tell us about GOAL’s ongoing efforts in Syria.
“GOAL is delivering aid to displaced families and host communities in northern Syria, as part of our emergency response program to assist those people affected by the conflict. GOAL is one of three USAID partners operating in Syria. GOAL’s Syria intervention has become the largest in our 36-year history – but we are constantly seeking to expand our programs to meet the levels of need.
“GOAL is delivering food, other aid and vouchers to 250,000 people per month. These vouchers can be redeemed at local shops.”
What is the biggest challenge facing GOAL in Syria?
“The humanitarian situation in Syria is horrific and we are operating in very high risk areas. GOAL’s Chief Operations Officer Jonathan Edgar recently described the situation: ‘We can talk here all day about figures, but it is only when you visit Syria, and see the devastation and suffering at first-hand that you realize the enormity of the humanitarian catastrophe. It’s the worst I’ve ever witnessed, and it is getting worse by the day. Inertia on the part of the international community has helped create a vacuum that has been filled by extremists.’
“Edgar warned that continued inertia would make it impossible for aid agencies to continue operating there.”
Tell us about the 2013 GOAL Ball.
“The annual ball is taking place on Friday, November 8 at Gotham Hall, 1356 Broadway, New York. This black tie event begins at 7:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed by dinner, auction, casino (guilt free gambling!), and live music and dancing. Over 400 business professionals will gather to support GOAL’s global humanitarian programs. Surprise celebrity guests will be in attendance! Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information visit http://www.goal.ie /GOAL_USA_2013_Annual_Benefit_Ball_/488.”
How can readers get involved with GOAL’s efforts in the U.S.?
“We are always looking for good people to get involved with our efforts. Examples of types of support include direct donations, become a monthly donor, take part in personal and or corporate fundraising events, offer in-kind donations, host an event and learn more about getting involved as an advisory board member.
“We currently have a GOAL USA New York City Marathon Team that is raising funds for GOAL USA. Ireland’s tenor Paul Byrom is participating this year. You can donate online at http://www.crowdrise.com /GoalUSANYC2013.”
Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks