It was not until May 2007 that Katy started to become more seriously involved in charity work. Succeeding in challenges with snakes, rats, maggots and a boa constructor on RTÉ’s Late Late Show version of the Fear Factor she raised over €40.000 forVisiting the hospital the next week to present the cheque and visit the children, she was deeply moved. And when she was told by Crumlin Hospital that this was the most money they had received in such a short time with such little effort, Katy was affected by the prospects of what she personally could do for others.
While still having to very much focus on her work, in order to earn her bread and butter, as she often would put it, she was determined to give of her time to help children in need. From an early age Katy had loved children and she longed for the day when she would have some of her own. Her heart would go out to these little ones as she continued to do charity work for Crumlin Hospital for Sick Children, The Irish Kidney Foundation and for the street children of Calcutta with GOAL.
By September 2007 she had come to realise that helping children in need was her calling in life. As John O’Shea, Head of GOAL, said, “ Katy had a unique relationship with these children. Even the child prostitutes in Calcutta rallied to her arms, affected by her genuine love for them.”
Though berated by some journalists and colleagues for using charity work as a means of gaining publicity, she replied to their criticisms maintaining that she had as much right to try to do what ever she could for others, that criticism of anyone doing charitable works was in itself not charitable. The fact is that Katy was finding real happiness amongst these children, realising how even her smallest gesture of a smile or a hug could make such a significant difference.
Katy’s article in the Sunday Independent Life magazine in November 2007 entitled ‘ The Queen of Hearts’ is testament to how Katy truly felt. Here are some extracts:
To see them smile and laugh was like witnessing a miracle. They needed to be loved and cared for; all they wanted was to interact, play, and just have my undivided attention for those few short hours. When I hugged them they didn’t let go, each one clambering for a seat on my lap, giggling when they saw a picture of themselves on my digital camera. They shouted with their arms outstretched to have their turn sitting on my shoulders or be thrown up in the air. They were children.
I loved every single one of them. They reached to the depths of the child in me and all I could do was smile and laugh also. I laughed with them and laughed at the real happiness I had found amongst these children. It made me realise that the hunger for love can be much more intense than the hunger for food. Mother Theresa once said, “The biggest disease is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted”. She also said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do”. I thank God that GOAL gave me the chance that day to know that. I not only learnt what a smile can do but also I came to realise that it’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving that matters – a smile, a touch, a hug, though seemingly small gestures, create endless echoes of belonging throughout these children’s lives.
It took only five days of working with GOAL to get me to appreciate the deep sense of humankind within all of them, that everyone of those homeless victims had a heart and a soul and a yearning to experience the essentials of being human, of living and loving life in some way. It is not terrifying to see or experience these sights; it is terrifying to realise that the smallest amount each one of us can give can make such a significant difference. Just like us they want a chance to live and they will rally to every opportunity we can give them. It took just five days for me to truly understand that anyone who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from us. And I came to the realisation that every thing we can do to assist the fallen, the destitute and the needy, no matter how big or small, could give us an inner peace in not forgetting that we all belong to each other. Importantly, my journey to Calcutta helped me to build on my own sense of self worth. I realised that we are all here under the eyes of God to help each other, and that He doesn’t require us to succeed, only to try.