12 Jun

New Paths to Family Health

Our six core programs offer vital health and social services to improve family health and well-being. In addition, services offered through our program partners, like financial literacy classes, nutrition workshops, summer camp programs, and legal services offered right in our community center give families opportunities to learn and build a strong foundation for the future.Below are some of our newest initiatives to improve the quality of life for New York families.

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program – LSA partners with the Food Bank for New York City on VITA to connect low-income New Yorkers with free tax preparation services. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) serves people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and others who need assistance in preparing their returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In 2018, LSA was able to offer VITA to over 30 clients.

LIFE Project – Through the LIFE (Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education) Project, LSA promotes enrollment in PreK for four-year-olds and in the new “3K” program for three-year-olds. The goal is to make more families in the neighborhood of East Harlem aware of the availability of these programs offered by the NYC Department of Education. The PreK and 3K programs offer free, high-quality early childhood education. Studies show that early childhood education sets children up for success throughout their school years. During the enrollment period, LSA staff members have been holding information sessions in the community and offering hands-on assistance to parents interested in enrolling children in these programs. The LIFE project is available through a grant from the New York Immigration Coalition.


“Our partnerships really expand what we’re able to offer families,” said Ray Lopez, Director of Programs at LSA Family Health Service. “By collaborating with other organizations, we’re able to give families even more tools to build a stronger future and, ultimately, a stronger community.”


New Domestic Violence Protocol for Preventive Services – Earlier this year, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice announced a new protocol to help identify and intervene in domestic violence cases. Under this new protocol, families in high-risk cases who are receiving prevention services like those offered at LSA will be screened for risk factors and helped to develop safety plans. LSA’s A-rated Preventive Services program is funded by ACS and will be following this new protocol, working with investigative consultants to strengthen our program and ensure the safety and well-being of children.

Nutrition and Language – East Harlem is home to a vibrant immigrant community, including families from Latin America who speak indigenous languages and have rich cultural traditions dating back to pre-Columbian times. To respond to their specific language and health needs, LSA partners with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) to offer health and nutrition classes to speakers of Mixtec (spoken in parts of Mexico), Mam (spoken by a Mayan group in Guatemala), and other indigenous languages. The classes offer community members ideas for nutritious and culturally relevant meals. Through this partnership, the DOHMH is reaching a segment of the population that it has not engaged with in the past.

Women Empowered to Lead (WE Lead) Community Navigator and Mentorship Program – Kudos to Melina Gonzalez (pictured above on the left), LSA’s Immigration Outreach Organizer, for being accepted into the WE Lead Program’s Immigration Navigator Cohort through the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). This opportunity will allow Melina to become a Department of Justice Certified Instructor.The WE Lead Community Navigator Program is a women’s empowerment training and workforce development initiative — launched by The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Jones Day Law Firm and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) — to train Community Navigators, empower immigrant women and their communities, and expand immigration legal services.


This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 Open Door Newsletter.  By Barbara Norcia-Broms.

Photo above:  Tamara received her tax return check after filing through the VITA program

06 Jun

Yarn Painting Workshop with Mano a Mano

On Thursday, Mano a Mano joined parents in our nursing and art therapy groups to lead a yarn painting workshop through it’s Mexico in New York program. They made Wixara-inspired yarn paintings. Through the program, mothers in our Building Bridges art therapy group have also learned how to make a Tsikuri yarn object (“el ojo De Dios”) and paper flowers inspired by Mexican folk art traditions.

The yarn paintings are inspired by the visionary art of the Wixarika (Huichol) people native to the Mexican states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas. Using multicolored yarns, each participant created a unique artwork based in traditional designs.

Our art therapy workshops target mothers in the community.  They offer the women who participate an important opportunity to connect with each  other and with their own thoughts and emotions through the vehicle of self expression.

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders is a New York-based non-profit organization  dedicated to celebrating Mexican culture and promoting the understanding of Mexican traditions.   Mexico in New York is a program designed to bring Mexican art and culture to classrooms and community groups. All activities include a lecture on the history of the tradition followed by a workshop or live music and dance performances.

21 Apr

Planting Seeds for Earth Day

Planting Seeds Earth Day

Children in our Parenting & Child Development program planted seeds in honor of Earth Day

The socialization classes, which are geared toward children 0-3 years old and their parents, involve activities that nurture age-appropriate development.

For Earth Day, that meant decorating planters out of recycled bottles, filling them with soil and planting seeds in them.  The group also did an activity honoring the four elements of earth, air, wind and fire.

These activities encouraged parents as well as children to be good stewards of the earth.

In addition, children in grades K-3 who participate in our after school program learned about conservation and created a mural in honor of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2018

Children and parents worked together to decorate planters made from recycled water bottles.

Earth Day 2018

The children planted seeds and will watch them grow in the coming weeks.

Earth Day 2018

A display includes native seeds, a drum, a seashell, and other items to represent the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Rain didn’t stop the Earth Day festivities

 

Students in the After School program work on a mural for Earth Day

Students in the After School program show off their Earth Day mural

16 Apr

#foundatthesharingplace campaign takes off!

#foundatthesharingplace

A new campaign features fun fashion #foundatthesharingplace

This National Volunteer Week, we salute the many volunteers who help make all we do possible!  Kaitlyn Marie Jackson, the creative force behind the #foundatthesharingplace campaign, is a great example. Photos can be seen on the Instagram account for The Sharing Place, LSA Family Health Service’s thrift store, this April.

Kaitlyn is a student at Pace University majoring in arts and entertainment  and with double minors in photography and special events marketing.  She had been volunteering at the thrift store when she came up with the idea for the campaign.

“The campaign started with a class advocacy project assignment and I decided to combine my culture, passions, and education to create the #foundatthesharingplace campaign,” said Kaitlyn.

The campaign features selected items from the store, modeled by her friends and styled and photographed by Kaitlyn herself.  The vibrant photos show off The Sharing Place’s amazing low prices.

“Volunteering with the Sharing Place has allowed me to find and help a community very similar to mine, which I have missed since my move from Texas to New York,” Kaitlyn said. “I love that I get to help both indirectly, through the marketing campaign and directly, in the store.”

Follow @thesharingplace to see more of Kaitlyn’s fantastic photos!

16 Apr

Geography Workshop

An introduction to the world…

Five high school students from the Dalton School have been introducing children in our after school program to the globe in a weekly geography class.  Developed by geography enthusiast Ryan McCormack, the workshop has helped the young participants to expand their view of the world and their place in it.

Ryan describes the experience of leading the after school workshop, below.

My name is Ryan McCormack, and I go to the Dalton School on the Upper East Side. For my entire life, Geography has been a passion of mine. For that reason I began a Geography Club at my school. Finding success in this, I realized that my pursuit of spreading my joy of Geography should not be limited to my community.

I reached out to LSA last year with the idea of beginning a workshop for the students, and when I found out that we had the green light, I was incredibly excited. Along with a few other students, including Tyler Azzam, Max Radomisli, Oliver Fisher, and Noah Delgado de Torres, we have begun to host a workshop each Thursday after we finish school.


“The entire experience has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us.”


Working last year with kids from Kindergarten to 3rd grade, we decided it would be best to begin with something that is incredibly important when it comes to world geography: understanding the continents. The continents can be used as a starting point to understand countless other areas of geography, such as countries, oceans, rivers, and mountains.

After the students learned the continents, they became much more receptive and excited about other aspects of geography, which opened the door to successful and engaging lessons. Before we knew it, the students began to know different countries, native animals, and indigenous plants all around the world.

This year, we began working with around 15 kids from 3rd grade, and now we have been working with kids in Kindergarten. The entire experience has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us, and there are specific moments which remind me of this. For example, one time, as we were examining different countries, I mentioned Mexico, which visibly brought excitement to much of the class, whose parents hailed from Mexico. It’s moments like this one that definitely have a great impact on me, as it shows that my work is actually bringing joy and interest to the children.

Geography has been important to me for my entire life, and I hope that I can get the younger generation of kids interested in the subject that is so important for understanding the entire world. I definitely have a new understanding of myself as a result of volunteering, and my work with the children at LSA has made me want to turn to more volunteering in the future, and I have realized how important it is to educate the new generation. Even if what I do does not specifically impact the understanding students may have with geography, I want my work to be able to spark their interest in the same way that it sparked mine when I first looked at an atlas in third grade.

23 Mar

Women’s History Month

Our youth programs celebrated Women’s History Month with Art!

Parents and daughters took self portraits in “Rosie the Riveter” poses, with Rosie’s iconic red bow in their hair.  Families also learned about one of the historic founders of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, Antionette Fage.  Boys in the group made a beautiful collage, reflecting on what “Woman” means to them.  Their collage reflected images of strength and love.

All month, children in the after school program have been reading books about women who have had historic impact.  The person they enjoyed reading about the most was Malala Yousafzai – they were so impressed by her accomplishments in the face of adversity that some of the children asked if they could meet her.  Artist Liam Critt created a beautiful  wooden plaque with Malala’s image and an inspirational quote.

     Women's History Month

Artwork by Liam Crill @crillwoodwork

 

 

 

 

08 Mar

Saluting Social Workers

We celebrate National Social Worker Month this March by saluting the wonderful social workers in our Preventive Services program.  This program contracts with the Administration for Children’s Services to work intensively with families to prevent the placement of children in foster care.  The program is recognized for its excellent work throughout the city and has a 98% success rate in keeping families together.

We thank social workers at LSA and everywhere for all they do!

Photo above: members of our Preventive Services department (r-l) Regina Sherman, Karen Williams, Nilsa Welsh, Lenequa Campbell, Yessica Sherman, and Georgina Ogilve.

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