Hometown Heroes: Evan says volunteering has taught him to always be prepared

Chairperson of Cork city LGBT+ running group Frontrunners, Evan Murphy Keogh, tells Roisin Burke about his love for helping people
Hometown Heroes: Evan says volunteering has taught him to always be prepared

Evan Murphy Keogh said he enjoys knowing that his input can make a difference and have positive impacts on his peers and communities.

FRONTRUNNERS chairperson Evan Murphy Keogh is a hardworking supply chain specialist with a big passion for helping out.

From working in kids camps to campaigning for marriage equality, Evan follows his heart in assessing what he can do for his community with his time and enthusiasm.

“I have been volunteering within the LGBTQ+ community in Cork since 2004,” he said.

Evan has been involved in the Cork Pride Festival as well as being one of the founding members of Bishopstown Tidy Towns, working with Edmund Rice Action (ERA) camps, and fundraising for SHARE and the Chernobyl Children’s Project.

He was also involved in campaigning for the marriage equality referendum and Cork Together for Yes, the Cork Coalition to Repeal the Eighth.

Chatting about what got him involved in helping others in his spare time, Evan said Transition Year in secondary school had a part to play.

“When I was in secondary school in Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh I did 4th year. That was a year to express your community and entrepreneurial skills including voluntary roles.

“In this year I realised I really had a love for helping people. As the years progressed I grew to want to affect change, which then brought me to the areas that were affecting the LGBTQ+ community that I am a part of.

“From constitutional change like marriage equality right through to sport, social and mental health supports with Frontrunners Cork.”

The 34-year-old said he enjoys knowing that his input can make a difference and have positive impacts on his peers and communities.

Role in Frontrunners Cork

Frontrunners Cork is an Irish LGBT+ running group based in Cork city.

Speaking about his role in Frontrunners Cork, Evan said the purpose of the group was as a social club first and foremost and a sports club in a close second place, but Evan said the pandemic made it tough for the club to survive.

“The pandemic was a nightmare for our runners and social club. We could no longer meet.

“For some people, who may not be out, these regular meetups and social evenings were their way of expressing themselves. It also brought people in our community together.”

The club used a number of technology tools to motivate and connect with each other.

“During the pandemic, we had to think of innovative ways to connect. We used the Strava app for our leaderboard, we used Facebook Groups and Messenger to keep in constant communication with our members and volunteers. These channels allowed us to chat about life, TV, jokes, general chit chat etc. We also were one of the first groups to utilise the infamous Zoom calls and quizzes which we had regularly for our members.”

The importance of being prepared 

Evan said volunteering has taught him valuable life lessons.

“I have always lived by the scouts motto when I was a scout — ‘Bí Ullamh’ — meaning ‘Be Prepared’.

“For me, volunteering has taught me to always be as prepared as possible. I’m not saying a storm shelter with tinned canned foods, but think about the purpose of the action and the reason for it.”

Since the club has gotten back out and about, Evan said the popularity of the group is soaring and new members are always welcome, as is funding and sponsorship support. “We run on a shoestring budget. We welcome people of all backgrounds, races, sexual orientations and genders.” The group welcomes everyone — lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and heterosexual — as well as beginners or people who run.

“The Gay Project supports our social and running activities from a financial and community space point of view.

“If you are one of our many multi-nationals or a local Cork business who would like to sponsor our activities for 2022, don’t hesitate to contact us on: frontrunnerscork@gmail.com or visit https://gayproject.ie/frontrunners-cork.”

Frontrunners Cork are on Instagram and Facebook @FrontrunnersCork.

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