The William H. Hannon Foundation has awarded the Airport Marina Counseling Service a $25,000 grant to continue the William H. Hannon Immediate Intervention Program, which officials say enables the Westchester clinic to continue to provide critical help to community members who have experienced a recent traumatic life-changing event.

First launched with the foundation’s support in 2003, the intervention program is designed to offer attention to those who are struggling with an array of challenges such as the death of a loved one, being a victim of or witness to a crime, domestic violence, dissolution of a marriage, sudden economic loss or a severe medical problem, according to the foundation.

Kathleen O’Leary Lefferman, Airport Marina Counseling Service executive director, said the program has been re-designed and expanded to provide a more prompt response to people in need and to ensure that both current and emerging community needs are identified and addressed.

The goal of the program is to reduce or resolve an emotionally disruptive experience to a solvable problem, with hope and optimism replacing helplessness and hopelessness, she said.

During the last year, over 200 clients have received either individual or group-based services in response to an immediate need or challenge in their lives.

“We cannot know how many suicides, acts of violence or other desperate or angry acts against family or community have been prevented or de-escalated through the unique William H. Hannon Immediate Intervention Program,” said Airport Marina Counseling Service clinical director Nancy Iben. “We do know that we often intervened early enough to prevent more serious emotional or physical hurt to our clients and their families.”

When she presented the grant to the counseling service, Kathleen Hannon Aikenhead, president of the William H. Hannon Foundation, said that her uncle had a “deep devotion” to Westchester and surrounding areas and noted his support for major community venues such as Loyola Marymount University, Westchester High School and St. Bernard High School.

“Hannon is a very familiar name in Westchester and we are all grateful for the enlightened support that the foundation brings to the community,” said O’Leary Lefferman.

Through the intervention program for 2007-2008, the counseling service will offer individual services to additional individuals and families and will continue to expand its group intervention.

“This year, the clinic plans to develop a “Caregivers Group” for persons attending to elderly or ill family members and to respond to other community needs as identified,” O’Leary Lefferman said. “This would not be possible without the generosity of the William H. Hannon Foundation.”