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    NY Daily News lauds New York Irish Center’s senior programme

    By Noreen Bowden | October 7, 2009

    The New York Daily News carries a great profile of the senior citizen programme at the New York Irish Center in Long Island City. The programme brings together people from Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan for lunch every week. They get company, a hot meal donated by one of a dozen restaurants on a rotating basis, and referrals to social and medical programmes when they need it.

    “Many are widows and widowers,” says Sean Mackin, one of the founders of the New York Irish Center. “Many have adult children who have moved away, and so they are alone now in the big city, living in rent-controlled apartments in once predominantly Irish neighborhoods. Now other new immigrants have moved in looking for the same American Dream. But many of the tens of thousands of New York Irish seniors can’t communicate with their new foreign-speaking neighbors. They feel isolated. Alienated. So when Father Colm Campbell opened here four years ago, word spread fast.”

    The center also runs a Senior Help Line, which runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to noon. It’s at (877) 997-5777. The Senior Help Line was set up with a grant from the Irish government.

    Columnist Denis Hamill lauds the programme, saying, “There is nothing else like this place in all of Queens. Or New York. It deserves a hundred thousand welcomes in return.”

    Programmes for Irish seniors, while long-established in Britain, have been growing in importance in the US recently. There is an increasing awareness of the need to fight isolation in the generation of immigrants who arrived in the 1950s and 1960s.┬áNew York’s Aisling Irish Center and the Emerald Island Immigration Center also run programmes for Irish seniors, and run the Senior Helpline as a joint project with the Long Island City center. The Ireland Funds recently announced they would be expanding their “Forgotten Irish” funding programme, which began in Britain, to the US.

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