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.

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.