Aileaċ Deegan, MSW, LSW

Executive Director, Ryan’s Place
Goshen College ’06
Originally from Ireland
Current Residence: Goshen, Indiana

I was married young and we had our children, so I had never really had the opportunity to travel. The economy in Ireland wasn’t great at the time, so we decided to apply for a visa to come work [in the United States]. We literally won the lottery. There’s an immigration lottery every year when 50,000 visas are given out worldwide, and we won one of them. We had very good friends in Dublin who were from Goshen –– so when we got the visa, we decided to come here.

When we came here, we literally started from scratch again. People would just drop off gift cards and things to help us out. The first Christmas we were here, the school calls us to see if we would mind if our kids were involved with Shop With a Cop. The cops came and took our two youngest kids to Wal-Mart. They gave them a budget and told them to get stuff for themselves. Oh my gosh, I’ll never forget that. It was like, can these people be any better?

We’ve lived in the Goshen community the whole time we’ve been here, and I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else. I’ve seen this community grow and evolve. It’s great, I love what this whole city has to offer.

I do miss Ireland. We drink Irish tea all the time. Every time my mother goes to the store she buys a packet of tea for us, so since we moved here 22 years ago, we’ve never run out of tea.

I’m grateful to live in a community that’s so supportive of not only me and my family, but also of Ryan’s Place. [Ryan’s Place is a children’s grief support center]. We don’t charge for our services, but this community supports that because they know it’s needed. I often refer to Ryan’s Place as my fifth child. I care for it like it’s one of my children. I love this organization with a passion. I do whatever I need to do to make sure it stays healthy. The fact that we can help families with grief support services and not charge for that is amazing to me. I’m very proud of the work that I do. It’s part of who I am.

Editor • Liz Shenk
Interview, Photography • Ashley Ganger

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