Linda Croston - Program and events coordinator at the Aisling Irish Community Center
Occupation: Program and events coordinator at the Aisling Irish Community Center. Originally from Skibbereen, Co. Cork, she lives in Woodlawn.
When and why did you come to the U.S.?
“I came in March of this year. My partner is an architect and the current recession in the Irish economy forced us to reassess his employment situation. I had always dreamed about living and working in New York, and following our work visa approval relocating to the U.S. was the most viable option.”
Tell us about your role with the Aisling Irish Center?
“I have been brought on board as events and program coordinator. The role entails coordination of the Irish Volunteers for the Homeless program as well as certain aspects of our senior program and other special events.”
What was the most difficult thing about moving to the U.S.?
“Leaving my family in Ireland as we are extremely close, but modern technology makes it easy to stay in touch so I don’t feel too separated from them. Also, I found leaving my friends and old work colleagues behind quite tough, but I know moving here was the right decision.”
What are the main differences between your new life here and your old life in Cork?
“The main differences between my life are the pace and velocity of the city. Having Times Square, Central Park, etc. at your fingertips is a great luxury and is worlds apart from my life in Cork.
“Life out here also provides great exposure to a lot more culture, and I am more aware of my Irish ethnicity than when I was at home. The weather here is also a major difference as it rains a great deal in Cork!”
What does the Aisling’s homeless program entail?
“The Irish Volunteer for the Homeless program aims to feed the homeless on the streets of New York City on Monday nights. The food is prepared in the center during the day by community volunteers and then transported to various locations throughout the city and handed out to approximately 300 homeless people living on the streets of New York.
“The annual cost of feeding over 300 homeless people each week now exceeds $16,000 and is funded in part by the Irish government as well as donations from private individuals and proceeds from fundraising events.”
How can people get involved?
“People can contact us at the center for further information, or else pop in on Monday afternoons to help prepare sandwiches and refreshments. The group departs for the city from the Aisling Irish Community Center between 7:30 and 7:45 on Monday evenings so volunteers can show up to assist on the night."