Irish Singing Sensation To Perform Benefit For Aisling Irish Center
2010 Meteor Award Nominee For Best Irish Male Singer Visits U.S. To Raise Awareness Of Suicide Prevention
By John Mooney
Jack Lukeman - better known as "Jack L" - has scheduled a benefit concert for the Aisling Irish Community Center on Tuesday, March 16, at Rory Dolan's (890 McLean Ave.) in Yonkers.
One of Ireland's most popular singers and a recent Meteor Award (the Irish Grammys) nominee, Jack L recently was appointed to the prestigious role of 2010 Ambassador for one of Ireland's largest charities, Console, which is supported by President of Ireland Mary McAleese. Console's mission is to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention. Proceeds from his Yonkers performance will fund the Aisling Irish Community Center's mental health and suicide prevention programs.
At all his New York metro area appearances and interviews, Jack L will be raising awareness of suicide prevention and encouraging those with suicidal thoughts to seek professional help for their battles with depression. He will also make a guest performance at the Kilkenny House in Cranford, NJ, on Sunday, March 14.
"We are honored that Jack L, one of Ireland's top performers, is generously donating his time and talent to support our holistic health services, particularly our suicide prevention efforts," said Orla Kelleher, executive director of the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers. "To have someone of Jack's caliber use his U.S. visit as a platform for suicide awareness and prevention is extremely important to the Irish American community."
"In response to a number of recent suicides and sudden accidental deaths in the Irish community in New York, we organized a Mass at St. Barnabas Church for families and friends who have lost loved ones," Kelleher added. "Depression awareness is such an important issue for us here and in Ireland. It's particularly heartbreaking for those who cannot go home to bury their loves ones because of their undocumented status in the U.S."
The Aisling Center provides a full-time social worker who provides counseling by appointment or on a walk-in basis for people who are depressed and having suicidal thoughts, as well as for family and friends who have lost loved ones through suicide.
The Aisling Center is the official location in Westchester County for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) National Survivors of Suicide web cast held annually in November. The organization also hosts a survivors meeting wishing to discuss their bereavements in a group or private setting afterwards. This workshop has proven very beneficial to those who are having difficulty coping with life in New York and becoming despondent and depressed.
"My goal is to spread the word that help is available for people who are depressed and having suicidal thoughts - not only in Ireland and the U.S., but also globally," said Jack L, whose own life has been touched by suicide. "This is a cause that is deeply personal to me, and I feel fortunate to be in a position, thanks to my role as Console Ambassador for 2010, to be able to make a difference and possibly prevent future suicide attempts and deaths."
The Aisling Center produced a social services directory, "Mind Yourself," in 2005 that was aimed specifically towards young Irish immigrants in New York, as well as the entire Bronx-Westchester community.
It contains useful information and contact details for various medical, social and recreational matters in directory form. The booklet and new magnetic cards containing vital numbers in the event of a mental health crisis are available at the Aisling Center and online at www.mindyourself.org.
Part of the funds raised by the Jack L benefit will go to the Aisling Center's compassionate aid fund that was established to assist with the U.S. funeral home costs of Irish people who die tragically in this country.
"We help pay for the funeral costs of families who reside in Ireland and do not have the financial means to bring their loved ones home for burial," Orla Kelleher said. "Such tragedies are difficult enough for family and friends to come to terms with. We hope that by assisting with funeral costs we can help in some small way to ease their grief."
Founded in 1996, the Aisling Irish Community Center (www.aislingcenter.org) offers a wide range of services, including confidential counseling for, depression, drug and alcohol dependency, domestic violence, relationship and family issues.
In 2005, the Center launched "Mind Yourself", a successful preventative mental health campaign. The Aisling Center also provides help with completion of passport forms, resumes, housing and employment applications, legal referrals and a range of educational opportunities. Classes include computer training, Irish dance, music and language instruction, art, yoga, kickboxing and Weight Watchers.
Aisling's community space is utilized by a wide variety of groups, including a Moms and Tots playgroup, Young at Heart senior citizens group, Internet Café, Irish Volunteers for the Homeless, football clubs, and local support groups.
For more information, call (914) 237-5121 or visit www.aislingcenter.org.