06 Oct

Fall at LSA

Fall is a busy time for LSA programs!

Here are some highlights of exciting things happening at each of our programs.

Early childhood and youth programs start for fall!
Early childhood socialization groups started meeting on September 18th. About 80 families will be participating in classes for parents and children 0-3 years old. Our intensive work with families sets the stage for future learning by keeping children on track during this critical period for brain development.

This fall we’re partnering with NYU on a language development intervention for children 12 to 19 months old. The intervention includes home visits and workshops to help families increase language exposure during everyday family routines, like mealtimes. Increased language exposure at this age can help children with brain and language development.

New and veteran volunteer after school tutors gather for fall orientation

After school tutoring and homework help for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade begins on October 11th. Students also participate in socio-emotional groups that use books as a tool to develop self-esteem and emotional wellbeing while building reading skills. We thank the wonderful volunteer tutors who help children improve math and reading skills throughout the year!

Environmental Health: Community Health Worker Report
A new report based on research conducted by our Environmental Health team and the New York Academy of Medicine was recently released. The findings will be presented at the American Health Association Conference on November 8th.  Learn more and read the report here:  Community Health Worker Report.

Nursing: Welcome Jean Sale-Shaw!
We welcomed a new Director of Patient Services and Nursing: Jean Sale-Shaw, MS, MPH, RN, AE-C . For the last 17 years, first in tuberculosis control, and more recently in asthma programming, Jean has worked at the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, witnessing the trend that brought chronic disease prevention under the purview of public health. She says: “While I have worked in acute care of adults – general medicine; drug and alcohol detoxification – I found myself early on taking the long view of health and wellness, meaning that in many cases, the solution to the health problem cannot be fit into the hospital or clinic visit alone.”

Advocacy: Know-your-rights workshops and food support
Our Advocacy department continues to help connect families with resources and to provide food assistance. Fresh local organic produce through a collaboration with Local Produce Link (a program of United Way of NYC and Just Food), has been a highlight of the summer and early fall for families visiting our pantry. In addition, our Immigration Outreach Organizer, Melina Gonzalez, has been conducting Know Your Rights workshops in at LSA and at other locations in the community.

Vegetables from the pantry were used to give visitors to LSA a cooking lesson.

Find your Halloween costume at The Sharing Place!
The Sharing Place Thrift Store held a special Designer Sale on Columbus Day Weekend. The store offers special deals every week. Right now the store has fall clothing available and has many Halloween costumes for babies, children and adults.

Halloween costumes and more can be found at our thrift store.

 

14 Sep

Research and Innovation

LSA is embedding research into each of our programs to stay at the forefront of human service delivery

Below are some of the research efforts being made in our programs. The goal is to deepen our understanding of the community and to continue improving our services to help families move past the barriers to well-being that result from poverty.

Early Learning

New York University is working with families in the Parenting and Child Development program to research family makeup and its impact on parent-child bonding and language development. The aim is to create and pilot a new intervention program that will promote parent-child language interactions during common, everyday activities at home.

Greening and Asthma Prevention

The Environmental Health program is participating in several national and local studies that investigate the relationship between environment and public health. One study evaluates the health benefits of renovating affordable housing with “green” materials and technologies. Another study is looking into the impact of asthma management support for high-risk adult asthmatics. Finally, in partnership with Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the New York Academy of Medicine, the program is participating in a study focused on the prevention and control of mold, which can trigger asthma symptoms and other adverse health conditions.

Reaching Immigrants

In 2016, our Advocacy program partnered with the Mexican Initiative for Deferred Action (MIDA) to do grassroots outreach in the community in order to provide immigration resources to eligible individuals. Data was collected to learn how DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) affects the lives of those who obtain it.

Tracking Health Trends

Two MD-MPH students from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are looking at Nursing data from 2012 to 2015 to help us understand health trends in our patient population. Thanks to a grant from the Sills Foundation, LSA embarked on a 3-year capacity-building ​project to develop agency-wide​ and program specific​ ​metrics to better measure ​impact and to implement best practices in the use of data systems​ to capture key information. ​


Photo caption: In 2016, LSA nurses made 860 home visits to provide prenatal and post-partum care.  Photo by Micah Rubin.

07 Sep

Asthma Prevention: Partners for Better Breathing

Environmental Health

Our Environmental Health program is partnering with area hospitals to reduce asthma-related emergency room visits.

Above: LSA’s community health workers measure air quality in apartments and help famlies understand how to control asthma triggers in their homes.

OneCity Health* is banking on a new partnership with LSA to decrease the number of child emergency room visits in Harlem due to asthma. Through the new collaboration, LSA community health workers will be embedded in Metropolitan Hospital, Harlem Hospital and Boriken Neighborhood Health Center. Their presence will make it easier for doctors to refer patients to our Environmental Health Services, introducing the program to a much larger population of children that can be helped by it.

Less Time in the Emergency Room
Emergency room visits come with a big price tag – and not just for the hospitals. When children miss school due to asthma-related ER visits, their school work can suffer. And missed work days for a child’s parent can threaten employment and family stability. To address the problem, LSA’s community health workers prevent costly ER visits by helping families remove mold, pests, dust and other toxic elements in their homes that may be triggering asthma symptoms in their children.

Until now, the program relied on doctors who knew about LSA to refer their patients. “We felt like we were missing a lot of people in the community that needed the service, but their doctors weren’t aware of us,” said Ray Lopez, Interim Director of Programs and Director of Environmental Health Services at LSA. Through the OneCity Health partnership, community health workers from LSA will have office hours at the hospitals and health center, making it easier for them to connect with patients who can benefit from our service.

“It’s a whole new thing to have our workers working side-by-side with doctors and nurses in the hospitals,” Lopez said. “Now we will get to kids who may be sicker, who may be living in more severe conditions than we are used to seeing. That helps us achieve our mission – to really find the people that need the service the most.”

In addition, Lopez said, the growing role of community health workers in healthcare creates an opportunity to advocate for positive change: “There’s going to be a bigger pool of workers visiting people for asthma in all these communities, not just in Harlem,” he said. “We have an opportunity to go beyond helping the individual. We can highlight patterns that we see and try to change policies that affect the community.”

He continued: “Before we were this tiny program in one corner of East Harlem, but now we have the potential for a larger platform to share and to lead. Our program has been in existence since the late 90s, so we have a lot of experience. We’re probably the longest running community health worker asthma program in the city. So we can lead in a way that we haven’t before.”

Currently, LSA is a lead partner in a study to evaluate methods of preventing and controlling mold and excess moisture in the homes of children with asthma. The study, in partnership with Columbia University and The New York Academy of Medicine, will help deepen our understanding of the best ways to prevent asthma-related emergencies and improve community health.

*OneCity Health is the NYC Health + Hospitals sponsored Performing Provider System (PPS).

This story appeared originally in our Spring 2017 Open Door Newsletter.

08 Aug

The Sharing Place Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

National Thrift Store Day and a 20th Anniversary Make for a Week of Great Shopping at The Sharing Place, East Harlem

The shopping stars align this month as The Sharing Place Thrift Store celebrates its 20th Anniversary on August 12th and recognizes National Thrift Store Day on August 17th. Intrepid shoppers have discovered designer labels like Carolina Herrera, Betsy Johnson, Coach, and Manolo Blahnik among other treasures on the store racks.

In 2012, New York Post readers voted The Sharing Place the Best Thrift Store in New York City. All sales support programs at the Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service (LSA), located on East 115th Street in Manhattan, off First Avenue.

Emergency relief

Besides being a favorite shopping destination for high-quality low-cost goods in the community, the store also provides free emergency goods to people in urgent need.

“We give out free vouchers to The Sharing Place when someone has an urgent need for clothing or household goods,” said Lucia Russett, Director of the Advocacy program.  Vouchers are given upon referral by a social worker or case worker.  There are many reasons why someone may receive a voucher:  they may be living in a shelter with few personal belongings, need appropriate clothing for a work program, have suffered job loss or a fire in their apartment, or just be newly arrived to the neighborhood.  In all cases, the customer has financial hardship.  With the thrift store’s modest prices, the vouchers go a long way.

In 2014, when a building in East Harlem collapsed due to a gas explosion, LSA was able to receive and provide clothing and other household supplies to displaced residents with the help of The Sharing Place.

Designer treasures 

The store celebrates its 20th Anniversary on August 12th with one of its “Designer” sales: a curated selection of the store’s best items.  Shoppers will also enjoy free giveaways and refreshments.  The celebration continues on August 17th, National Thrift Shop Day, with additional discounts to the store’s regular weekly sales.

“You can find great deals here,” said Diamond, a regular Sharing Place shopper, as she tried on a blue silk jacket by Lorraine Parrish.

The Sharing Place accepts donations of new and gently used clothing and home goods in good condition.  To schedule a free donation pick-up or to learn more, visit the store website:  thesharingplacenyc.com.

Visit The Sharing Place on Instagram:  @thesharingplace.

Read Catholic New York’s story on The Sharing Place’s 2nd anniversary in 1999: Gathering Spot: Little Sisters’ East Harlem thrift shop is a place of good prices, good will.

Press contact:  Asari Beale, 646-672-5200

Catholic NY Article on The Sharing Place

 

Sharing Place shopper

Diamond, a regular Sharing Place shopper, found a beautiful silk jacket by designer Lorraine Parrish.

 

 

 

Volunteer in The Sharing Place

Volunteers like Jonathan gain job-readiness skills while working in the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Jul

Summer Learning & Fun!

Our summer youth program is in full swing! Thirty children in grades K – 3 attend for math and reading support to keep them on track during the school holiday.

The main focus of the program is literacy.  Even the math instruction includes reading comprehension.  Jadie Vasquez, Program Coordinator, said “we really want to increase their reading level and keep them improving over the summer.”  One of the program’s goals is to have each child read a minimum of 10 books before September.

Parent engagement is an important part of the program.  Parents participate in classroom activities that teach techniques for reading with their children at home.  The activities are adjusted to accommodate parents at any literacy level.  Jadie said, “it’s really about motivating the parent to be an active part of their child’s education, even if they don’t have much education themselves.”

The program will conclude in August with a fun field day in Central Park.

This summer, we’re also grateful to have the help of five Summer Youth Employees through the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.  These industrious teens are working with children in our summer program and at our thrift store and food pantry.

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.

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.