SHARE, as you may well know, is a charitable organisation established and run by the youth of Cork, in order to provide for the elderly of Cork. It was established in the late 1960's, which was a time of upheaval and student revolt in many areas. The young people were unhappy if not disillusioned with authority, both civil and religious. Anger was very much in evidence in these times. Where many saw this time as a crisis, a few elite individuals saw it as an opportunity to assist the needy of our divided country. These people were no modern day prophets or anything of the sort; the truth is they were, in fact, just everyday 5th year students from Cork.
After some serious thought and discussion it was decided that something must be done for the poor, but the questions were "how" and "for whom". At this time a great man came to their assistance; he went by the name of Brother Jerome Kelly who was at that time, principal of Presentation Brothers College. He guided them through their initial tough decisions. Finally, after surveying the city with a fine tooth comb, it was decided that the most needy were in fact the elderly of Cork.
These students decided that they wanted to experience first hand the hardships that the elderly lived every day, before they began the tremendous task in front of them. They split into twos and threes and headed for the city centre. Once there they explored the dark back alleys, and found old people wasting away in depressing, tiny basement flats and attic rooms. They were longing to talk and be heard by caring ears but never had the chance. They discovered that they were driven almost to the brink of insanity by the numbing cold, that their frail bodies could no longer take. This put the final nail in the coffin of old age poverty in Cork.
They spread they word of how the elderly lived and within a few days they received support and large financial funding from none other than Dr. Douglas Hyde, first president of the Irish Free State. This great deed of a great man was the first SHARE donation and set the ball rolling. Douglas Hyde for a number of years morally and financially supported these students.
After realising that an organisation of such large proportions needed the financial assistance, support and involvement of adults to tackle this ever-widening picture of need, the assistance of the whole community was put to use and to this day still is. The next obstacle to overcome was not a difficult one; just something that had never been thought about, a name. Via competition amongst the public of Cork City the name "S.H.A.R.E." was chosen, while words were later supplied for the abbreviation - "Students Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly.
A supply of continuous financial support was now needed and it was again decided to appeal to the public. A decision was made to erect a Crib during the Christmas season to bring more public awareness to the problem. Another suggestion with a similar great response was to undertake a fast at the crib. This alerted people to the urgency of the problem and they responded generously with large donations.
SHARE used the proceeds to build large numbers of dwellings in complexes that house the elderly. To this day, they are continuously being re-fitted, upgraded and modified. They are without a doubt, a huge step up from the shacks and huts in which these elderly used to live. Each house has all the modern requirements and is fully furnished.
Every Christmas, since SHARE first began in the dismal 1970's, the Presentation Brothers College 5th year students, along with an ever-widening executive of fellow students in other schools, have marched onto the streets of Cork. They have their collection boxes in hand and are ready to collect donations all day and all night, come rain, hail or snow. The greatest appeal to the public in Ireland, for what is now known as the SHARE fast, was thereby made. The students who volunteer to run it are good-hearted people with consciences of gold. The elderly of Cork could never repay these people for the work they have done for them.