05 Jun

Open Door Newsletter Spring 2017

Open Door Spring 2017

The Spring 2017 Open Door newsletter features stories about our work to ensure the health and safety of children in our community.  The first story describes the work of our Preventive Services program and how its director, Nilsa Welsh, addresses secondary trauma among social workers so that they can do their best to protect children.  The second story describes a new initiative in our Environmental Health Services program through which LSA community health workers are stationed at hospitals to make it easier for doctors to make referrals to our asthma prevention services.

Click below to read more or view a PDF version.

 

01 Jun

Building Bridges Art Exhibition

Eight mothers participating in our Building Bridges of Hope Art Therapy Group this spring shared their work in a special art exhibition at LSA.

Building Bridges of Hope is a support group with the goal of empowering women, helping them increase self-esteem, build confidence, and find a way out of fear and isolation.  Art activities become the tools to facilitate self-expression, reduce feelings of shame and guilt, and develop coping skills to deal with anxiety and depression.

Below are highlights from the exhibit.

 

Photography: What does it mean to love with your whole heart?

Portraits of strong women

Portraits of Strong Women

Light boxes

Clay: Participants created objects to explore notions of identity within their community.

Portraits of Immigrant Women:  What does it mean to be an immigrant for  you?  “It’s about work and sacrifice.  It’s leaving your family behind to look for a better life.”

 

 

Felting. Participants said: “It was beautiful what came out. The result was surprising.”

Felting

Still Painting: The goal was to develop observation skills, pay attention to details and explore the concept of impermanence.

26 May

PCD Graduation Celebrates Culture

Sixty children and parents graduated from our Parenting and Child Development early childhood program. The theme of the graduation was a celebration of cultures from around the world. Students, parents and LSA staff dressed in costumes typical of their cultural heritage.   The children will all be attending preK programs in the fall, developmentally on track to succeed in school.

Below are some photos from the celebration (click the left & right arrows to scroll through).

 

25 May

After-school group builds confidence in kids

A new initiative at LSA has done wonders building confidence and communication skills for children in our after-school program. The initiative involves socio-emotional groups for kids in grades K-3 that engage them in group discussions and activities around books.

The focus on socio-emotional development correlates with high academic achievement, increased motivation and engagement in learning. The goal of the initiative is to provide a space for children where they can build reading skills, feel comfortable working as part of a group and, most importantly, find meaning in what they read in a way that relates to their own personal experience. We believe this is how we will support a community of learners and a strong love of reading.

The program, which started in September, has been very popular among the children.  And, along with tutoring and homework help, the groups have helped the children improve academically, with 80-90% of the children showing better grades in math, ELA or both since the beginning of the school year.


We spoke with Jadie Vasquez, who has been managing the socio-emotional groups, to learn more…

Describe how the socio-emotional groups work.

In the past, the afterschool program only included tutoring and homework help. This year we decided to incorporate the socio-emotional group.

We designed it with AfterSchool KidzLit, because we still wanted the groups to have an educational component. Wendy [Wendy Miron, Director of the Parenting and Child Development program] and I had to get trained for it, along with the interns.  KidzLit gave us books along with instructions on how to do different activities that encourage the children to engage together.  The children are reading, they’re writing, they’re working in groups, they’re doing a lot of hands-on activities.  We have two groups separated by age, so both groups read the same book but do different activities that work best according to the children’s ages.

The main goal is to help children feel comfortable enough to communicate, either in a group setting or one on one.  It’s important that the children feel like they have a safe space. A lot of them don’t have that – a lot of them are loners in school.  They don’t talk to anybody. So we want them to have that sense of friendship, a sense of belonging to something, when they come here.  Then there is the educational part of it, which is learning how to work together, how to dissect a book.  Even if it takes a long time, we give them the chance to explore the world of the book and the artistic freedom to create something inspired from it.

How does that benefit the child emotionally?

It helps the children to open up socially and to be comfortable in a group setting, which, for a lot of them, was a very hard thing to do.  When we started in September, some of them didn’t even want to raise their hand, they didn’t want to tell you their name, they didn’t want to talk to the person next to them.

It was a rough road.  But now you can see the difference.  The children actually want to raise their hand and participate.  Now they feel part of this special group, where they feel safe, where they can talk about things happening in their lives.  So it goes beyond the book.  For example, if someone is feeling sad one day, we might talk about it – as a group!  The children learn to share their feelings, which isn’t easy at such a young age.  The books become a tool to help children open up.  And learning to communicate in general and to open up emotionally, in turn, helps them in school.

It’s been such an amazing journey to see them evolve the way that they have. The children that you least expected to open up are the ones that are above the stars right now, just loving this group.   When we’re on a break, they ask: ‘why don’t we have group tomorrow?’   Having them want to do it makes all the difference in the world.

How does the socio-emotional group complement the tutoring and homework help?

One great example is a small child, in kindergarten, who is in the program.  His tutor had a difficult time just getting him to speak with her.  It’s very hard to help a child when he doesn’t even want to talk to you or he’s very shy and doesn’t communicate.  When he did talk, it was only in a whisper.  I told the tutor: let’s give it some time.   So the first thing we did is isolate him and the tutor so that they could work together without distractions.  The second thing we did was work really hard in the socialization group to have him feel comfortable around adults and his peers.

Two months down the line – he had a complete 180.  Now the child is talking.  He’s speaking louder; he has the confidence to tell his tutor, ‘Okay – I want to do this now.’  He’s a completely different kid.  And I know that, in addition to the tutor working very hard and being persistent, the socio-emotional group had a lot to do with that, because he started feeling comfortable with the group.

He isn’t the only one this has happened with; it happened with two or three of the children. The socio-emotional group has been a big part of them opening up and being more vocal.

Has it made a difference for the kids in school?

Absolutely.  We believe that it makes a difference not only here with the tutors and at home, but also at school.  It’s all connected.  If you don’t want to speak to the teacher, if you don’t want to communicate with your peers, if you have trouble working in groups, that’s going to affect you in school.  Those are all things you have to do at one point in a school setting.

So when the kids get that practice here and start to feel that it’s okay, it gives them more courage to do it in school.  Now – all of a sudden – the kindergarten student who wasn’t speaking, comes in here and speaks to everyone. In school, he’s talking to the teacher, something that he was having difficulty doing.  It’s all a domino effect.

Children show off the books they created together in the socio-emotional afterschool group.

Are you tracking results?

We have collected report cards from the beginning. Since September, about 80-90% of the students have done better in math or literature or both.  The kindergarten student I mentioned started the year with ones and now he’s getting twos and threes.  I share that information with the tutors so that they know what’s happening and we’re all on the same page.

How did the book project come about?

My vision was to do something they could work on as a group.  Because really, that’s what the socio-emotional group was about, to be able to work together and see themselves as a team.  Everyone gets an assignment and everyone gets to vote and make decisions together.  We helped give them structure and started the ball rolling.  They took the time and figured it all out together. They drew together, they wrote the book together.  It was an amazing process watching them take the lead.  They were very proud of themselves, and it felt like this was something that really showed how hard they worked throughout the year.

24 May

#LSARecommends Summer Reading for Kids!

Reading Nook

#LSARecommends: Prevent the Summer Slide

Warm weather means school is out, and children may slowly forget what they learned during the school year. In order to combat the dreaded summer slide, we are presenting a social media campaign called #LSARecommends.  Staff are recommending children’s books and helpful tips to make sure learning continues into the summer months.

According to the Children’s Literacy Initiative:  “When children don’t read over the summer, they can fall 2 years behind by 5th grade. It’s always important to support your child’s learning at home, and over the summer this is critical.”

Reading aloud together is a wonderful family activity that can help prevent summer slide and prepare preschool-aged children for school.  For children and parents, reading together promotes bonding, advances literacy and inspires imaginations during the dog days of summer.

Follow the #LSARecommends campaign on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!

Here are some of our staff’s favorite read-aloud books:

Tony’s Bread by Tomie dePaola

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

 

Cuentos de la selva (Jungle Tales) by Horacio Quiroga

 

The 21 Balloons by William Pene duBois

 

Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint Exupery

 

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

 

Monstruo triste, monstruo feliz (Sad Monster, Happy Monster) by Ed Emberly & Anne Miranda

 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

 

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

 

 


 

Submitted by Caroline Ziccardi

10 May

National Nurses Week and Q&A with Jennifer Chaparro

We Salute our Nurses During National Nurses Week!

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week.  At LSA, we have a fantastic team of home visiting nurses who go above and beyond to improve family health.   We salute our nurses and thank them for their dedication to serving the community!

Above: LSA’s nurses – Suzanne Deliee, Brigida Lapadula, Susanne Lachapelle, Patricia Hayes and Jennifer Chaparro.


In honor of National Nurses Week, we asked Community Health Nurse Jennifer Chaparro to share some of her thoughts about nursing.

Q&A with Jennifer Chaparro RN, BSN – Community Health Nurse at LSA

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day for a community health nurse is anything but typical.  In a nutshell, regular tasks that I find myself doing every week include completing routine paperwork, communicating with healthcare providers and insurance companies, and the bulk of my time involves visiting patients in their homes.

What is a typical home visit like?

A community health nurse can never know what to expect when visiting a new patient.  Each patient is a unique individual: culturally, emotionally, socially, and physically.  This is just as true for their healthcare needs: one person’s health needs differ completely from another’s.

At LSA, we see a wide array of patients.  We provide home visits for newly postpartum mothers and their infants.  We provide health assessment and monitoring, newborn education and breastfeeding support.  In addition, we provide wound care to children and adults, help families manage their child’s asthma medications and symptoms, and help women manage their blood pressure after experiencing severe preeclampsia.  We see extremely premature infants requiring cardiac surgeries and older adults who are wheelchair bound and need education in managing their diabetes — and every patient in between!

The ultimate goal of the home visits is to provide health monitoring, education and support to families in order to promote stabilization of their immediate health concerns and foster independence and successful self-management of their long-term healthcare needs.


“It is truly a blessing to be able to tend to these premature babies, helping educate their parents on how to care for them, and easing any fears or anxieties they have regarding the future of their babies.”


How do visiting nurses make a difference in the lives of the people they help?

Visiting nurses provide another means of support, especially for underserved families in our community.  People can become lost in the ever-changing, complex healthcare system, whether it be due to a language or cultural barrier, lack of education, or issues with insurance or documentation status.  This, in turn, can lead to a mismanagement of their health and an increased incidence of preventable complications, which can further lead to unnecessary hospitalizations.  By providing nursing visits in the patient’s home, visiting nurses can help to identify barriers that are preventing a patient from reaching their healthcare goals, while also providing compassionate care and education that is free of bias or prejudice.  It is important that patients have the opportunity to learn about what they can do to take better care of their health and that of their families.

How does being a nurse enrich your life?

Being a nurse enriches my life by providing me with new experiences and learning opportunities every single day. With every new patient comes a unique diagnosis or health problem.  At times, these health problems can be serious or rare, which requires me to do intense research so that I can be better prepared to provide accurate information for the patients that are affected.  These new experiences allow me to expand my knowledge and be well-rounded in my field so that I can help to educate patients who are affected by all kinds of health issues.  New information, diagnoses, and treatments are being discovered on a daily basis in the evolving world of healthcare, and it is crucial for nurses to remain up-to-date in order to provide the best education and support for our patients.  The learning never stops!

I have so many stories of my interactions with my patients that it’s difficult to just choose one.  Personally, I enjoy visiting first-time mothers and their infants.  Some of these moms are young teenagers, still children themselves thrust into motherhood at a young age.  Helping to educate these teens to transition into motherhood while also watching their beautiful children grow makes me feel so grateful that I am able to share this experience with them.  Helping to ease their fears, educating them on newborn health, and watching these teens become supportive young mothers makes me very happy that I can be a part of this process.

I also enjoy my interactions with premature babies.  A lot of premature infants have serious medical issues that need to be monitored or complications that need meticulous care.  These babies can be born in the hospital weighing a mere one or two pounds and remain hospitalized for weeks, even months.  It is truly a blessing to be able to tend to these premature babies, helping educate their parents on how to care for them, and easing any fears or anxieties they have regarding the future of their babies.  I especially love seeing them towards the end of care, watching the transformation the babies undergo from weak, fragile infants into bubbly, bouncy, happy babies.  Seeing the pleasure and expertise that their parents’ accumulate over the course of several weeks of home visits is just another added bonus to the experience.

26 Apr

National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week, and here at LSA we are counting our volunteer blessings!

We have an amazing group of dedicated, passionate volunteers who support nearly every program at LSA.  From after school tutors, to homework helpers, early childhood classroom assistants and food pantry and thrift store helpers (to name just a few), our volunteers are truly invaluable to the services we provide to our East Harlem neighbors.

75 volunteers are currently supporting LSA. We know we really can’t do the good work we do without them!

We are celebrating all week on social media by highlighting some of the amazing volunteers who help us serve the community, like Fran, the volunteer tutor in the photo above.   Read about her and other volunteers below.

We’ll be celebrating again on June 9th, at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Evening.

From the bottom of all our hearts here at LSA, THANK YOU volunteers, for all you do!

 

 

25 Apr

Verano Verde

Verano Verde

Save the Date for

VERANO VERDE: A Celebration of East Harlem

Hosted by the Junior Board of LSA Family Health Service

Get Tickets Now!

June 22, 2017
6:30pm – 9:30pm
in the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery, Lincoln Center Film Society
at plaza level on the north side of West 65th Street
165 West 65th St

Enjoy cocktails, refreshments, entertainment and a silent auction

All proceeds will support programs for children and families at LSA Family Health Service.

 

14 Apr

NBC4: Immigrant Hunger Pains

April 13, 2017 – Immigrant families from LSA programs spoke with NBC4’s Melissa Russo about their fear of receiving food stamps for their U.S. citizen children in light of a greater fear: deportation.  The NBC4 I Team story shows scenes in LSA’s food pantry and classrooms.

Staff at LSA have been working closely with families concerned about shifting immigration policies, including conducting “Know Your Rights” workshops and connecting families to free legal consultation through partner organizations.  In addition, we are assuring families who are struggling with food insecurity that they can feel safe visiting our food pantry for assistance.

Watch and read the full report below:

NBC4 New York I-Team: Fearing Deportation, Immigrant Families in Tri-State Are Forgoing Needed Food Benefits

“It scares me because I start to think they have all my info and then at any time they can grab you and then what happens to my kids?” one mother of eight says.

By Melissa Russo

Some needy immigrants in the tri-state area are giving up free food from the government and charitable groups, saying they’d rather risk hunger than deportation.

Several local anti-poverty groups tell the I-Team their immigrant clients are asking for help getting off the food stamp rolls because they fear accepting the benefit will expose them to scrutiny from federal immigration officials.

Like many families with mixed immigration status, the parents are undocumented, from Mexico City, but their three young children were born in America. As U.S. citizens, the children are entitled to $345 a month in food stamps; the benefit will run out at the end of April.

Speaking in his tiny kitchen recently as he prepared burritos for his children, the father told the I-Team he works 70 hours a week in below minimum wage jobs. He says the food stamps have helped him feed his children for the past year. The couple doesn’t have the money to buy the food needed to feed their whole family without the help of the food stamps, but the parents say they want to stay off the radar of federal immigration officials.

“I buy food for my kids. Not for us, for my kids,” the father said. “But right now I am scared because I hear a lot of things around New York.”

Several families tell the I-Team they’d rather eat fewer meals than risk being separated from their children if they face deportation.

Another mother without papers who calls herself “Kristina” has eight children, several of whom are U.S. citizens and qualify for food stamps. She says the community-based non-profit LSA Family Health Service talked her out of canceling the benefits, but she remains fearful.

“It scares me because I start to think they have all my info and then at any time they can grab you and then what happens to my kids?” she says.

Local programs for the poor are conflicted about how to advise their needy clients on this subject. Wengler says he’s not comfortable assuring families that accepting benefits won’t harm them down the road.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says.

Recent statements by President Trump have fueled the fear, including one that said “those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.” A draft of a White House executive order leaked in February called for potentially expanding the list of benefits by which an immigrant could be defined as a public charge and thus be deported.

A spokesman for the NYC Human Resources Administration, the local agency that administers the federal food stamp program, tells the I-Team their data does not reflect a trend of people discontinuing their benefits. According to HRA, the federal government does not possess a list of local food stamp recipients even though it is a federal program. City officials insist they have no plans to turn over any such lists. But such reassurances only go so far. The I-Team has learned some immigrants are afraid to even accept groceries from community-based food pantries that have no connection to government.

At the West Side Campaign against Hunger, housed in the basement of a West 86th Street church, the freezers are full of tilapia, turkey and fresh produce. Spanish-speaking, grateful grandmothers wheel shopping carts and suitcases from all five boroughs to access the free, nutritious staples offered to the low income clientele. But in recent months, Gregory Silverman, a chef who runs the pantry, has noticed what he describes as an alarming trend.

“We have customers calling on a regular basis asking to have their information taken out of our databases,” he said. “They’re not willing to come in because of fear. And translating the message to them to say, ‘It’s okay,’ is not really that easy.”

Silverman says dozens of clients a week have pulled out of the program, despite staff explaining their database is not viewed by immigration officials.

The NY Common Pantry in East Harlem, which doles out enough groceries to provide about seven meals a month to its customers, has also noticed a downturn. Jose Garcia, a retired father from the Dominican Republic, says this pantry “helps his budget.” Garcia says he no longer encounters some of his fellow immigrants on the food line. He says he worries about some of them who are collecting bottles and cans instead to make ends meet.

“They afraid they getting arrested,” he said.

Some anti-hunger programs in New Jersey describe a similar situation. At the Christ Church Food Pantry in New Brunswick, director Judith Kuldinow says she has lost dozens of immigrant clients.

“It’s sad that in this day in age that people don’t have enough food. That’s exactly why we’re here,” Kuldinow said. “And now we’re one of the people they’re afraid to come to.”

The Trump administration did not respond to a message seeking comment left Thursday morning.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New York declined comment and referred questions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). A message was left.

—–

Source: I-Team: Fearing Deportation, Immigrant Families in Tri-State Are Forgoing Needed Food Benefits | NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/Immigrant-Identity-Fear-Deportation-New-York-Hunger-Children-Investigation-Food-Stamp-Apply-Benefits-419375124.html#ixzz4eELq9GNU

10 Apr

Something Fantastic!

Something Fun!

April 9, 2017 – Forty five children from LSA families enjoyed a fantastic evening on Broadway at our Something Fun! family fundraiser.  The event raised close to $20,000 for our programs.

The event included lunch and games at Dave & Buster’s restaurant on 42nd Street.  After lunch, guests crossed the street to watch Something – a performance at the New Victory Theater by the Liberi Di Physical Theater group.

Our deep thanks go to the many event sponsors whose generous contributions sponsored tickets for LSA children and supported our organizations.

Click the arrows on the left or right to scroll through photos from the event.