Joe Driscoll is more than a musician who happens to also be a local politician — he is also an activist with a strong humanitarian focus. When asked about the seed that started the fundraising event held October 21 at The Palace Theater, Joe responded: “Last year Edgar Pagan and I did a similar fundraiser for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The issue of lead exposure has been on my radar since I decided to run for Council, almost two years ago. Edgar and I spoke about it a bunch, and decided we wanted to unite the musical community again, but this time to raise awareness about an issue in our own community.”
The fundraiser was intended to help move Syracuse into a more “proactive” than “reactive” stance when it comes to tackling the childhood lead exposure issue. As an example, Joe described how Rochester includes a test for lead hazards with a dust wipe in their housing inspections of residential properties.
Stopping lead exposure before it starts is absolutely critical. Joe states that “Lead poisoning negatively affects children’s growth and development, reduces IQ, impulse control, and contributes to behavioral problems. It is important to develop a strategy and program to deal with lead, because often lead poisoning is not diagnosed, as there are no real noticeable symptoms. It is also very difficult to treat, and usually has a life long impact on the individual.“
Several local musicians and bands filled the stage with music during the event. Syracuse artists are generous with their time and energy as they provide incredible entertainment to the audience. Dancing in the aisles and seats (and even one toddler on stage!) showed the bands how much their music meant to us!
The money raised at the Palace Theater event will be split between the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, and the Housing & Homeless Coalition. Both organizations have programs that help families that identify lead in their home to connect with services so that they don’t end up homeless when trying to leave one property in search of another.
If you would like to know where to find more info on volunteering and how to give $$, you can look up the Syracuse Lead Prevention Coalition on Facebook. They also meet the second Monday of every month at 500 West Genesee St (Iron Workers Union Hall), to discuss the issue and how to help expand the city’s effort and raise awareness.