Category: Archive

Help when tragedy strikes

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

When tragedy strikes in America’s Irish communities, whether it be a death or a terminal illness, often people band together to raise money to help the afflicted family.

It has happened for the family of young Devin Groom, and it happened for Liam Mason, the Monaghan man who hanged himself in Van Courtlandt Park.

But those involved in New York City’s Irish communities say these cases represent the extreme polarity of the problems immigrants face. At the other end of the scale are those who slip through the safety net of family and friends, and often have no where to turn.

Homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment, spousal abuse — these are some of problems that have surfaced in the Irish community, according to Father Tom Flynn, director of the Aisling Irish Center, in Yonkers. And often these people require financial assistance, either to help make a new start, perhaps help with a month’s rent because work is scarce, or, in extreme cases, to get a flight back to Ireland.

Often, though, it may just be the price of a meal, until the next steady job gets them back on their feet, Flynn said. Those cases can be a drain on the center’s limited financial resources, and often staff there must rely on private donations. With this in mind, Fr. Flynn recently established the Compassionate Aid Fund, which will provide financial relief to those in need.

Take, for example, the case of "Angela" a single mother of three young children, whose partner worked in construction and gave her money for housekeeping and care of the children. While their youngest child was just a toddler, her partner left Angela alone to fend for herself and the children. The Aisling center managed to finance a trip back to Ireland to pick up her Green Card and look after her children until she was settled here and in work.

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Or "John," a construction worker, who lost his job and ended up living in a park for two weeks until he came to the center for help.

The fund, which Fr. Flynn hopes to maintain at about $50,000, will be managed by a group of trustees, who will oversee each needy case. Donations to the Compassionate Aid Fund, can be sent to the Aisling Irish Center, C/O Father Tom Flynn, 990 McLean Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704. For details, call (914) 237-5121.

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