The Niall Mellon Township Trust (NMTT) was started by Irish Developer Niall Mellon in 2002 to build quality housing for impoverished families living in shacks in the townships of South Africa. In June of 2008, Denver resident Kerri Tiernan was reading about Mellon’s project in a story published in The Celtic Connection. At the time Mellon was reaching out to Americans who might be interested in donating or volunteering time to the Irish charity.
The article jarred Karri’s memory of a trip that she made to South Africa in 2006 and recollection of a drive through the shanties of Cape Town and the awful living conditions that the families endured. “Being 100% Irish (American) and trying to make a difference
it seemed right up my ally!” said Karri who eventually contacted NMTT to find out what steps needed to be made to become a volunteer.
During the second week of this November Karri will take time off from her work at Enterprise Auto Rentals, along with co-worker Trish Tesar, Kathy McGee (Kellogg’s), and Heidi Weidemiller (Computer Associates) and will be the first American team to join Irish-Based NMTT team in South Africa as volunteer builders. “We will walk into the city behind a bagpiper, put on our assigned team colors, and a week later we’ll hand over the keys for a new house to a family that had previously lived in a shanty – very cool! Kerri added that team USA will be in the company of approximately 700 volunteers from Ireland, many who are professionals in building trades. Team USA is required to raise at least $5,000 apiece. About half goes toward travel and expenses and the other half toward building a house (cost is approximately 5,000 Euro to build one house, with a proper roof, running water, sanitation facilities and electricity).
Last month they got off to a good start with a fundrasier at the Irish Hound in Denver as Kerri reported, “Troy Kahle (GM of the Irish Hound) was a great help for our Charity event along with his entire staff. Attendees that bought raffle tickets were treated to some Irish Beer or great wine, a taco buffet, and raffle tickets for some great prizes.” She added that there was a very good turn-out and great support from sponsors like Guinness, Lowes, The Artisan Center, Houston’s Restaurant, Little India restaurant, LaLas Restaurant, Cherry Creek Grill, The Colorado Rockies, Silpada Jewelry, The Tattered Cover, Encore Restaurant, Home Depot, Racine’s, and Dixons restaurant. “We are still in the fundraising stage— we are looking to finalize our fundraising by the middle or last part of august.” Donations can be made towards Team USA by going to www.nmtownshiptrust.com or www.irishtownship.com and click on the American Flag.
“The Niall Mellon Township Trust is a great Charity and we thank everyone for their support,” enthused Karri, “We will be the first volunteer group from the US that will go to South Africa in November and we are very excited about that!!! PM