15 Feb

Food Bank Recognition

Food Bank for New York City Hunger Conference

February 15, 2018 — We were honored to be recognized by Food Bank for NYC at their Conference on Hunger and Poverty.  Members of LSA’s Advocacy/Food Pantry team were presented with a founding member award for our 35-year partnership!

Beyond food, our partnership with Food Bank for NYC has taken many forms to improve the quality of life for families at LSA. We are proud to count Food Bank as one of our strongest partners.

Lucia Russett, Director of our Advocacy/Food Pantry program, received the Founding Partner Award on behalf of LSA Family Health Service.

Lucia Russett, Director of our Advocacy/Food Pantry program, received the Founding Partner Award on behalf of LSA Family Health Service.

 

 

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:

https://www.wnyc.org/story/saving-endangered-language-one-tamale-time/

http://remezcla.com/food/tamales-nahuatl-cooking-class/

http://citylore.org/event/more-than-maize-mole-nahuatl-language-through-food/

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).

 

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

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS

  • 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
 

 

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.

GenNx-Turkey-Distribution-11-21-2017

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.

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.

10 Nov

Maternal Health Study

Maternal Health Nursing

Mount Sinai Medical Students Study LSA Maternal Health Data

How are we doing? What’s changing? Where are we going? These are the kinds of questions medical students are trying to answer as they examine maternal health data from the Nursing program at LSA Family Health Service.

The agency’s nurses treat prenatal and postpartum mothers and their babies who have been referred by their doctors for ongoing care. Over the last five years, medical students from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have been culling data to understand the impact of the program on the health of mothers and babies.


“We can use the data to try to develop more services and interventions for the women.”


The research takes into consideration a range of health and social factors, such as gestational age, birth weight, mental health risk, diabetes and food insecurity. For example, more than a third of mothers reported that they have no one to call in times of crisis. Recognizing the high rate of social isolation can help our nurses better understand how to support the mental health of mothers in the program.

“This is a program evaluation to look at the high risk population served and the importance of the program in impacting the lives of women who have no one to turn to other than LSA,” said Dr. Elizabeth Garland of Mount Sinai. Dr. Garland is the Division Director for Preventive Medicine and Community Health and manages the maternal health research initiative.

Dr. Garland stressed the value of looking at data over a number of years to uncover health trends in the community. For example, our nurses knew that they were seeing more and more complex cases. The data shows that this is quantifiably the case, with increased rates of preeclampsia and cases with multiple diagnoses. “We can use the data to try to develop more services and interventions for the women,” said Dr. Garland.

The rich data has been presented at many national pediatric meetings, most recently at the New York State Pediatric Advocacy Coalition annual conference. Ultimately, the goal is to better serve mothers in our community and share what we’ve learned with others.

Photo by Micah Rubin

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.