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Project Children Picnic + 5K Fundraiser

Sun October 20, 2024 Orangeburg, NY 10962 US Directions

Sheila Keenan


Title/Position: CEO and President of Simplisk

Town, State: Suffern, NY

Tell us about yourself and your family life:

A lifelong New Yorker, I grew up in Pearl River, NY, and reside in Rockland County. However, with grandparents hailing from Cavan, Leitrim, Galway and Clare, frequent visits with family across both Northern Ireland and the Republic, and an unforgettable experience studying at University College Cork, my Irish connections run deep. My husband and I love to travel and are very involved with our local community and our wonderfully vast family.

Tell us about your professional life:

I am the co-founder of Simplisk, a business innovation and creative design agency serving clients across a variety of industries. Simplisk was honored to have the opportunity to redesign the Project Children website in 2018 and continues to enhance and support it today. In addition to consulting, we created and maintain, a platform that shines a spotlight on Rockland County’s small businesses, tourist destinations and more.

What is your connection to Project Children?

I and my family, including my parents Mary and Larry Dolan and eight siblings, have engaged with Project Children since the very early days: advocating for the program, donating time and musical talent to fundraising efforts, and serving as host family to 15 children (some for multiple summers), across the 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s. The program has left an indelible mark on our hearts, one that has brought us much joy and, even to this day, influences our actions.

Do you have a favorite PC memory?

My favorite Project Children recollections are of hellos and goodbyes. The anticipation and arrival of the children at JFK are among my happiest memories. With only a letter exchanged between our family and the child coming to live with us, there was so much to learn about them and so much to share about us and what we’d get up to during their summer stay. When the throngs of children arrived, I’d scan everyone and their pinned numbers, searching for the face I’d share a room with for the next 6 weeks. The car was always filled with nervous excitement on the ride home to Pearl River and if the chat wasn’t flowing, there was an hour of NY sites to fuel show-and-tell. As summers drew to a close, the Project Children picnic offered a sweet prelude to the impending bitterness of goodbye. Relationships now fully fortified, we'd put on our favorite summer outfits and head to the picnic grounds. Engrossed in games, food, music, 50-50 ticket checking and hundreds of kid pairings just like us, we’d spend a carefree day commemorating the summer and trading notes on what we all got up to.

Tell us what it means to be a PC ambassador for the PC Picnic and 5k and the Move to Monaghan:

Project Children has been a part of my family’s life since before I was born, so I have never known a world without it. I consider my introduction to the program a true gift. As a young child of an established host family, unaware of certain realities, I was captivated by the fun and excitement Project Children brought to my life: summers filled with new friends, new adventures and new connections back to Ireland. As I grew older, I began to understand and appreciate the program, and the incredible dedication and sacrifice of all those involved in building it, in entirely new ways. Learning more about The Troubles and the origin of Project Children didn’t darken my memories of those childhood summers, but added new color and context that made the time spent with visiting children that much more meaningful. Now, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to support Project Children in this new era and to be one more voice spreading its message of peace and cross-continental community. It is an honor to be invited to stand alongside my fellow ambassadors and a privilege to contribute to the promotion, recognition and preservation of Project Children and the Mulcahy family’s invaluable work.

Join Sheila's Team

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