08 Feb

Nutrition & Literacy Make a Delicious Dish

A 7-week cooking course at LSA combined nutrition guidance and language lessons, with delicious results!

Along with preparation of a nutritious recipe, the group participated in discussions based on weekly themes ranging from eating healthy on a budget to using traditional healing practices. For children participating, arts and craft ideas emphasized healthy eating and language preservation. The course targeted speakers of indigenous languages, such as Nahuatl, Mixteco and Mam, and ran from November 2017 through January 2018.

“The nutrition class was of great benefit to our families,” said Inginia Garcia, Parenting and Child Development Supervisor.  “It not only demonstrated a healthier method of cooking well known meals that the parents usually make for their families, but also how to increase vegetables and decreasing meats. We were also able to discuss natural remedies that are often used, while creating an environment for increased socialization and communication in which we learned from each other.”

The program was offered in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Endangered Language Alliance. The Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) is an independent non-profit based in New York City that documents underdescribed and endangered languages, educating a larger public and collaborating with communities.

“The cooking-language group provided a space where speakers of indigenous languages of the Americas could share cultural experiences, traditions, and their linguistic ties while learning more about healthy eating and nutrition.”

Wendy Miron, Director of the Parenting and Child Development program

Irwin Sanchez was one of the lead instructors of the group.  Learn more about how he combines cooking instruction with teaching others about the Nahuatl language & heritage:




Nutrition & language class

Participants in the class discuss both the nutrition and vocabulary around various ingredients included in the evening’s recipe.

Irwin Sanchez, one of the class leaders, prepares some nopales for a salad by cutting off the needles. “Nopal” is a word of Nahuatl origin for the pads of the prickly pear cactus. Nopales are highly nutritious and available at some grocery stores in East Harlem.

Before: ingredients for a nutritious salad, featuring nopales.

After: a salad of quinoa, nopales, kale and tomatoes is paired with stewed chicken and rice and pigeon peas (gandules).


06 Feb

BIG Thanks to Holiday Donors!

Each holiday season, a number of generous donors give presents, warm clothing, and groceries for holiday meals for families in our programs.  These gifts embody the spirit community, connecting families, warming hearts, and making the season brighter for everyone!

Our heartfelt thanks to:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Brearley School
The Brownstone School
The Buckely School
Catholic Charities
Church of the Heavenly Rest
Convent of the Sacred Heart
Convent of the Sacred Heart families
Disney Corporate Citizenship
Epiphany School
Horace Mann
Julia Koch
LSA Community Service Parent Committee
Brenna Moore & Friends
Mount Sinai Postdoc Executive Committee (PEC)
Robin Poulos
Prosek Partners
Riverdale Country School Senior Class
Robin Hood Holiday Drive
Scott, Leah and Charles
St. Frances de Sales Church
St. John Bread and Life
St. Luke’s Giving Tree
St. Monica’s Church
St. Thomas More
Cecilia Vonderheide
and the many donors who gave through our Amazon Wish List.

AND special thanks to these donors, for their contributions all year round!

The Accessory Collective
**Bottomless Closet**
Cancer Care Thrift Store
Google Express
The Ritz Carlton Hotel
holiday presents

Two girls receive holiday presents and winter clothing

PCD Holiday Party

The Parenting & Child Development team went all-out for the holiday party, where children received presents.






17 Jan

Art by LSA Students on Display

Former LSA/Free Arts Students at the Heckscher Foundation

January 10, 2018 — The Heckscher Foundation for Children held a reception to honor students whose artwork was selected for display at their headquarters. Among these is a large installation made in 2005 by children in the Free Arts NYC program at LSA Family Health Service.

Brandon and Arisdelcy were in elementary and middle school, respectively, when they participated in the 2005 Free Arts workshop that resulted in the work on display.  Arisdelcy, now a Head Start teacher, described the process, saying that the children were given fluorescent lights and asked to move them around.  The exposed light created striking abstract photographic images which portrayed the students’ movement.  The artwork, which is entitled “Urban Energy,” and spans the first and second floors of the Hecksher Foundation headquarters.

Brandon, a Dreamer and a senior at Hunter College, spoke passionately about the way his involvement with LSA and Free Arts broadened his horizons:

“Little Sisters opened up a sense of diversity in terms of what it really means to have an education. When we were kids, there was a lot of funding for math and science, but there wasn’t really a huge amount of funding for the arts. It was through [LSA] that I really got to do a lot of art, and it helped a lot with forming who I was. That would not be possible had my mom not found her way to Little Sisters of the Assumption.”

Free Arts empowers underserved youth through art and mentoring programs to develop their creativity, confidence, and skills to succeed. For many years it was an important part of the after school programming at LSA.


Other artwork on display included photographs selected through the 2017 Heckscher Foundation for Children Art Competition. Learn more about the artwork here.

Former LSA staff and Free Arts students at the Heckscher Foundation for Children

At the Heckscher Foundation in honor of students whose artwork is displayed at their headquarters. (l-r) Martha Andrade-Dousdebes, former director of the Education and Youth Services at LSA; Arisdelcy, former LSA/Free Arts student; Trish Gough, Director of Volunteer Services at LSA; Brandon, former LSA/Free Arts student; Liz Hopfan, Executive Director of Free Arts NYC

"Urban Energy" 2005. On display at the Heckscher Foundation for Children

“Urban Energy” 2005. Artwork created by children at LSA, on display at the Heckscher Foundation





13 Dec

Language Meets Nutrition in New Workshops

November 2017 — This fall LSA kicked off a seven-week indigenous language, cooking and nutrition workshop. The program is being offered in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Endangered Language Alliance. The Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) is an independent non-profit based in New York City that documents underdescribed and endangered languages, educating a larger public and collaborating with communities.

Through the workshop, LSA hopes to positively impact the nutrition and health habits of the community of indigenous language speakers in East Harlem. The participants primarily speak Nahuatl, Mixteco and Mam, and are engaged in other programs within LSA.

The first session took place the week of Thanksgiving, and featured a turkey seasoned with a homemade sofrito, the original recipe of our own Inginia Garcia, Director of the early childhood socialization groups in our Parenting and Child Development department.

Here’s the recipe!

Inginia’s Sofrito

1 pound of small sweet peppers (ajicito dulce)
1 pound of garlic
1/2 pound of cilantro
3 onions
3 bunches of scallions
1 red or green pepper
1 1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of vinegar
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of teriyaki with garlic
6-12 cubes of chicken boullion


  • Wash all vegetables and cut into small pieces
  • Blend all vegetables together (in a blender of food processor)
  • Add 1 cup of water, 1 ½ cup of olive oil and stir

Use as needed to season meat, stews, rice, vegetables, etc.

Can be stored in the freezer for up so a year.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Inginia Garcia with a turkey she prepared.

Above: The ELA leads a group of parents from LSA programs.

11 Dec

Weaving Stories of Hope

SAORI weaving with Building Bridges

Mothers in the Building Bridges art therapy group learned to express themselves through weaving, with the help of teachers from SAORI Arts NYC.  On Dec. 14th, the group held an exhibit of work completed throughout the fall session and a celebration, which included communal weaving and dancing.  See photos of the fun event, below.

For several sessions, mothers have had the opportunity to learn SAORI weaving techniques from Yukako Satone, founder of Loop of the Loom weaving studio and a SAORI certified instructor.  With guidance from LSA’s art therapist and mental health counselor, Monica Sanchez, members of the group have used the weaving process to work through their own personal stories.

SAORI is a form of free-style weaving. It brings the joy of creative expression and individual sense of accomplishment to each of our participants and builds a sense of community among them.

The Building Bridges Art Therapy Group is fortunate to have formed a partnership with SAORI Arts NYC (SANYC), a non-profit organization that brings this healing art to people suffering from complex trauma as well as people with developmental, physical and emotional challenges.


Building Bridges Exhibit, December 2017


05 Dec

Breathing Easier

Environmental Health Services - Family

Yazmin’s family had no furniture in their one-room apartment, only a single mattress leaning against the wall.  Her baby suffered from lead exposure, and her oldest son had bad allergies and Asthma symptoms due to the poor conditions of the apartment.

In East Harlem, health conditions due to poor housing are all too common. The rates of emergency room visits related to childhood asthma are disproportionately higher in East Harlem compared to other communities.

To help families breathe easier, Community Health Workers from LSA  work closely with families to improve the conditions of their homes and advocate with landlords to make needed repairs.

“LSA has been focused on the asthma issue for over a decade,” explained our Program Director, Ray Lopez in a 2015 Dateline NBC special on asthma called Breathless. “We’ve been working hands-on with families at home to eliminate mold, pests and toxins so they can breathe again.”

Rosario, one of LSA’s skilled Community Health Workers, made regular visits with Yazmin to improve the air quality in her apartment.  LSA provided the family with a new bed, play pen and storage bins. The family was also loaned a HEPA vacuum cleaner and provided integrated pest management, including vacuuming, cleaning, and sealing cracks and holes.

Today, the environmental asthma triggers are under control, the health of the children has improved and Yazmin and her family have a new, more positive outlook for the future.

“The situation was very sad when I met her, but now to see the smile on her face is all I need,” Rosario said.

“We’re very happy,” Yazmin said, describing how her son’s asthma has improved.  “He used to have a lot of problems, a lot of allergies.  Little Sisters really helped to improve our quality of life and the quality of life of our children.”

A 2017 report published by the New York Academy of Medicine described the impact of our program in reducing childhood asthma symptoms. Learn more.

LSA relies on the support of individuals to continue to providing services like this to families facing challenges to their health and well-being.

Help us make a difference and make a donation today.


27 Nov

Cristian’s Story

Families come to LSA for many reasons. Homelessness, food insecurity, chronic illness, isolation and other threats to well-being lead people to seek our family support services.  Each client has a unique story of courage and perseverance.

Cristian shared his moving story with guests at the 2017 Spirit of East Harlem gala.  Below is the speech he shared.

When I arrived in this country, I lived in Queens with my wife and our four children.  Unfortunately, my wife suffers from mental health problems. She began to abuse me verbally and physically and even threatened me.  I was very afraid and left home with my children.

For 8 very difficult days we lived in a shelter in the Bronx.  Then we moved into a family shelter.  They gave us emergency food and other help, but in a few days the food they gave us ran out, my children were hungry, and I didn’t have work or money for food. 

I spent hours thinking, crying.  One day I found a paper with information about Little Sisters of the Assumption pantry.  When I walked through the doors, they greeted me warmly.  They made me an appointment and gave me an emergency bag of food to feed my family.   I do not know if you know what that represents for a person who comes to your doors looking help.  I returned to the shelter with new inspiration. On my next visit to Little Sisters, they made an appointment for me to meet with an immigration lawyer. They invited me to support groups and even gave me vouchers to buy clothes. At that moment, I felt that a great weight was lifted from me. I felt that my problems and my situation were not mine alone, that someone wanted to help me. Little Sisters helped me in so many ways, they even gave me a turkey so that I could cook my first Thanksgiving dinner for my children. 

Soon I started volunteering at Little Sisters.  I came to understand that the purpose of life is to serve, love and help others.  I was assigned to volunteer only a few hours a week, but I felt so good about myself, that I came back every day.  Eventually, I was hired and made part of this wonderful family.

Today, with much pride and on behalf of my children, I want to say THANK YOU LITTLE SISTERS FAMILY HEALTH SERVICE.  My family and I will always be grateful.

To support our health, education and family support programs, make a tax-deductible donation today.  Your contribution will make an immediate difference for families in our programs.

Donate Now

22 Nov

Holiday Turkeys Distributed Throughout November

Turkey Distribution

We’re distributing 500 holiday turkeys this November, thanks to the GenNx Foundation

During the month of November, our food pantry is making an effort to distribute turkeys to every registered family that wants one for their holiday meal.  This distribution is possible through the GenNx Foundation, which is hosting a holiday turkey drive with the goal of funding 500 turkeys!

With the support of the GenNx Foundation drive and other sources, we anticipate that, by the end of the month, we will have distributed at least 500 turkeys, in addition to roaster chickens and other cooking staples to families enrolled in our food pantry.

In the first week alone, we gave out about 184 turkeys, plus roaster chickens.

Each month, food distributed by our pantry feeds approximately 2,000 people facing food insecurity in the neighborhood of East Harlem.  Learn more about holiday giving opportunities.

Above: The food pantry gets stocked with turkeys for distrubtion.


Jim and Kimberley from GenNx volunteered in our food pantry, distributing turkeys for families.


Turkey Distribution

A mom gets a turkey at her monthly food pantry visit.



Turkey Distribution

An LSA client picks up a turkey for her holiday dinner.

16 Nov

Holiday Volunteer and Giving Opportunities

During this season of giving, LSA Family Health Service looks to local retailers, schools, churches and individuals to support our programs through volunteerism and donations that help make the season brighter for East Harlem families in crisis.

There are many ways to support LSA Family Health Service and our neighbors in need:

  • Donate funds
  • Organize a Fundraiser or Drive for food, clothing, diapers, baby formula (Enfamil or Similac)
  • Donate toys for children, new & unwrappedOffer ‘gifts-in-kind’ from your store or business
  • Donate gently-used clothing and housewares to our thrift store – find more details and request a free pick-up at thesharingplacenyc.com
  • Volunteer at our center!

Download our Holiday Gift Donation Form and enclose it with any donations of toys or other holiday gifts for LSA Family.  (To submit the form by email: save the PDF first, then open with Adobe Acrobat)

Download our Holiday Volunteering & Giving Flyer

To volunteer, offer gifts in kind, donate toys or organize a fundraiser, contact Trish Gough, Director of Volunteer Services: tgough@lsafhs.org or call 646.672.5200.

To donate gently-used clothing and housewares to our Sharing Place Thrift Store, email sharingplace@lsafhs.org. Visit the store online for more information: thesharingplacenyc.com

To make a donation online, click here or mail a check to LSA Family Health Service, 333 East 115th Street, New York, NY 10029.


Donations may be dropped off at:
LSA Family Health Service
333 East 115th Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm (thrift store only)
Please submit the donation form on the back of this flyer along with your donation.

10 Nov

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights Workshop

Know Your Rights workshops inform and prepare immigrants and their damilies

The neighborhood of East Harlem has traditionally been a home to immigrants, from its roots as the city’s first Little Italy, to its transformation to “El Barrio” and the recent influx of immigrants from China, Africa and the Middle East.

Having an Immigration Outreach Coordinator on staff helps LSA to respond quickly to the flood of questions that arise when something changes with immigration policy. Melina Gonzalez has been in the role since July. The position was previously held by client advocate Pura Cruz. Through a partnership with Action NYC (from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs), Melina conducts Know Your Rights workshops at schools, churches, food pantries and other locations throughout the community.

In addition, she makes appointments for individuals seeking legal help to meet with free legal advisors through CUNY Citizenship Now! and Legal Aid Society. On average she schedules about 50 such appointments each month, and clients meet with the legal advisor at LSA—in other words, in their own community.

Her message is for families to be organized, informed and prepared. “They need to know what their rights are, they need to have their documents organized, and their children need to have their passports,” Melina said.

The demand for the Know Your Rights workshop remains great. Churches and schools have reached out to Melina to conduct the workshop for their communities. “People are interested in knowing how to be prepared,” she said.