02 Mar

Associated Press: LSA’s Mental Health Services for Immigrants

Mas alla del miedo

The Associated Press featured LSA in a story on efforts by community groups to expand mental health services to immigrants in the midst of uncertain immigration policies.

Below  is an excerp, followed by the English translation, describing a workshop at LSA called “Más allá del miedo” (Beyond Fear) which included art therapy to help participants process the anxiety they experienced.  The full story can be read here.


Ven aumento de ayuda psicológica a inmigrantes por Trump

Por Claudia Torrens

NUEVA YORK (AP) — El temor a que la deporten y separen de su hija de dos años llevó a la mexicana María Luisa a una sesión de ayuda psicológica.

La terapia llamada “Más allá del miedo” fue organizada por un grupo sin ánimo de lucro de East Harlem, en Manhattan, que busca aliviar el estrés que la política migratoria del presidente Donald Trump ha generado en los inmigrantes.

“Sentí que podía hablar, expresar mis miedos”, dijo la hispana de 34 años que prefirió no dar su apellido. “Pude compartir ideas y me tranquilizó ver a otras madres con el mismo sentir que yo”.

Desde que Trump ganó las elecciones en noviembre la necesidad de asistencia psicológica para los inmigrantes es mayor que nunca, aseguraron activistas y psicólogos, aunque aún no hay datos estadísticos disponibles. Miedo, ansiedad y depresión son los síntomas que han visto en ascenso entre la población inmigrante tras las redadas ocurridas recientemente en todo el país y las órdenes ejecutivas que tienen por objetivo la expulsión de los extranjeros sin autorización.

“La necesidad de ayuda psicológica siempre ha estado ahí, pero tras las elecciones y las acciones ejecutivas de Trump el miedo ha aumentado”, dijo Theo Oshiro, vicedirector de Make The Road New York, un grupo que por primera vez está organizando sesiones grupales para inmigrantes con una psicóloga voluntaria.

Aproximadamente 125 de los 171 miembros de un programa de padres y jóvenes de Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, en East Harlem, han manifestado un aumento en la ansiedad debido a las políticas migratorias de Trump, aseguró la portavoz del grupo. Por ello se iniciaron las sesiones de “Más allá del miedo” de las que participan unas 16 madres y donde se sirve café con panecillos, huele a incienso y se oye música relajante.

“Tengo pacientes que no quieren enviar a sus hijos a la escuela”, dijo Mónica Sánchez, la terapeuta que dirige las sesiones. “Decidimos organizar ‘Más allá del miedo’ porque vimos un aumento de personas que tenían miedo, ansiedad. Queríamos decirles que no están solos”.

En la sesión Sánchez entrega un papel y lápices de colores a las participantes y les pide que expresen sus temores a través de un dibujo. Pueden cerrar los ojos y trazar garabatos o dibujar libremente con todo detalle.

“Algunas pintan un círculo negro y lo rayan y dicen ‘no veo nada*. Otras lo describen como un remolino”, explicó.

“Yo pinté un círculo rojo porque me da miedo la sangre y la violencia”, dijo María Luisa.

Durante la reunión, que dura dos horas, a algunas se les quiebra la voz al hablar y lloran tímidamente. Sobre el final del encuentro Sánchez destaca la necesidad de estar preparado para una posible deportación en lugar de quedarse paralizado. …


More Mental Health Support for Immigrants Due to Trump

by Claudia Torrens

NEW YORK (AP) – Fear of being deported and separated from her two-year-old daughter led Mexican Maria Luisa to a mental health counseling session.

The “Beyond Fear” therapy was hosted by a nonprofit group in East Harlem, Manhattan, which seeks to alleviate the stress President Donald Trump’s immigration policy has generated on immigrants.

“I felt I could speak, express my fears,” said the 34-year-old Hispanic woman who chose not to give her last name. “I was able to share ideas and I was relieved to see other mothers with the same feeling as me.”

Since Trump won the November election, the need for psychological assistance for immigrants is greater than ever, activists and psychologists say, although statistics are not yet available. Fear, anxiety and depression are the symptoms they have seen rising among the immigrant population following recent raids across the country and executive orders aimed at the expulsion of foreigners without documentation.

“The need for psychological help has always been there, but after the election and executive actions of Trump, the fear has increased,” said Theo Oshiro, deputy director of Make The Road New York, a group that, for the first time, is organizing group sessions for immigrants with a volunteer psychologist.

Approximately 125 of the 171 members of a program of parents and young people at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service in East Harlem have expressed an increase in anxiety due to Trump’s immigration policies, the spokeswoman said. For that reason, the “Beyond Fear” sessions were started, with 16 mothers participating thus far. Coffee and muffins are served; one can smell of incense and hear relaxing music.

“I have patients who do not want to send their children to school,” said Monica Sanchez, the therapist who runs the sessions. “We decided to organize ‘Beyond Fear’ because we saw an increase in people who were afraid, anxious. We wanted to tell them that they are not alone.”

In the session Sánchez gives a paper and colored pencils to the participants and asks them to express their fears through a drawing. Participants can close their eyes and draw intuitively or draw freely in full detail.

“Some paint a black circle and scratch it and say ‘I do not see anything.” Others describe it as a whirlwind,” she said.

“I painted a red circle because I am afraid of blood and violence,” said Maria Luisa.

During the meeting, which lasts two hours, some people’s voices break as they speak and cry timidly. At the end of the meeting Sánchez stresses the need to be prepared for a possible deportation instead of being paralyzed by fear.

13 Feb

Resources for Immigrant Families

Immigration Resources

Recursos para familias inmigrantes

With changes to immigration policy and news of increased ICE activity in the New York area, LSA is responding to heightened anxiety and increased questions among the families we serve.

Anyone with immigration questions or in need of free immigration legal help can contact our Immigration Outreach Organizer, Pura Cruz.   Call: 646-672-5200 during business hours, or send an email.

Con los cambios en la política de inmigración y las noticias sobre el aumento de la actividad de ICE en el área de Nueva York, LSA responde a la creciente ansiedad ya las preguntas entre las familias a las que servimos.

Cualquier persona que tenga preguntas sobre inmigración o que necesite ayuda legal de inmigración gratuita puede comunicarse con Pura Cruz al 646-672-5200 durante el horario comercial, o envíe un correo electrónico.

Resources / Recursos:

New York Immigration Hotline/Linea telefonica sobre inmigracion de Nueva York:  1-800-566-7636 or 1-212-419-3737 – Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.  The New York Immigration hotline number can be given to anyone who needs confidential information on immigration matters. Information is available in 18 languages.   Todas las llamadas son anónimas y las conversaciones son confidenciales. La Línea Telefónica sobre Inmigración de Nueva York es un proyecto de Caridades Católicas Servicios de Inmigración y Refugiados de la Arquidiócesis de Nueva York.

Hotline for immigrant communities affected by recent ICE raids/Hotline para ayudar a las comunidades de inmigrantes afectadas por recientes incursiones de ICE: 844-955-3425 – Legal Aid Society

“Know Your Rights” Tool Kit / Conozca sus derechos – The New York Immigration Coalition.

“What to do if ICE comes to you door/En caso de redadas ¿qué puedes hacer? flyer in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic – United We Dream.

Emergency Plan in Case of the Detention or Deportation of Family Members / Plan de Emergencia en Caso de la Detención o Deportación de Familiares – Legal Aid Society

Here’s what we’re doing at LSA:

  • Offering “Know Your Rights” workshops.
  • Working with clients at risk of deportation to help them create an emergency plan.
  • Offering emotional support and creating a safe space for clients to share their concerns, including workshops for parents and children on coping with fear and stress.
  • Working with The New York Immigration Coalition, Legal Aid Society and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, among others, so that we can share the latest information and resources with families, as well as advocate for our community.
10 Feb

Borough Excellence Award

Food Bank for NYC Borough Excellence Award

LSA’s Advocacy and Food Pantry Program was awarded a ‘Borough Excellence Award’ by Food Bank for NYC

New York, NY – February 7, 2017 – LSA was presented the Borough Excellence Award at the Food Bank for NYC’s Conference on Hunger and Poverty on February 7, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  The award distinguished LSA’s food pantry as among the best in the entire borough of Manhattan.

The food pantry at LSA Family Health Service is part of the Advocacy and Food Pantry program.  It feeds, on average, 1,900 individuals a month in a grocery store style, client-choice pantry.  The demographic served by the pantry is the primarily immigrant, low-income community of East Harlem, which has been marked for decades as having among the poorest health outcomes for children in New York City, including having among the highest rates of asthma, childhood obesity, and infant mortality.

Providing healthy food options is an important aspect of the pantry.  It offers fresh locally farmed produce during the growing season, through United Way of NYC and Just Food’s Local Produce Link program.  It has also received fresh produce from Grow NYC and even a local community garden.  Cooking demonstrations throughout the year show families how to cook with the vegetables being offered in the pantry.  And a Community CookShop class – in partnership with Food Bank for NYC and the Mario Batali Foundation – teaches families how to shop for and cook healthy meals on a limited budget.

The Advocacy program serves as a primary entry point for LSA’s family support services.  In 2016, the program’s five staff members facilitated 6,863 client visits for food and 7,642 client visits for services. These included one-on-one meetings with families to understand and address their needs.  Key partnerships allow the Advocacy program to connect families with free legal help to prevent evictions and help enrolling in Medicaid.  As a member of the ActionNYC initiative through the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the agency has been doing extensive outreach throughout the city to connect immigrants with free legal support.

LSA is deeply honored for the recognition of the Borough Excellence Award.

Food Bank award

LSA client advocates receive the Borough Excellence award at the Food Bank for NYC Conference on Hunger and Poverty.

23 Nov

Turkey Giveaway

Thanks to generous supporters, we were able to distribute over 200 turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Turkey donors included: City Harvest, Catholic Charities, Marguerite Guerin, GenNx 360 and the GenNx Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

The GenNx Foundation hosted an online food drive through which the Foundation and staff of GenNx 360 donated funds toward 241 turkey dinners, an additional 25 chicken dinners, and pantry staples which will be distributed to LSA families throughout the holiday season.

Our warmest thanks go to these generous donors for making the holidays brighter for LSA families!

Above: Members of the GenNx Foundation visited LSA to help distribute turkeys.
Below: Families picked up turkeys and other pantry items for Thanksgiving dinner.

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15 Nov

Thank you, Barbara!

LSA staff celebrated Barbara Richert, who has volunteered as a mental health counselor with our Parenting and Child Development program for 11 years. Barbara is bringing her regular volunteerism with LSA to a close this month.

“There are no words to say how grateful we are to have her for 11 years,” said Inginia Garcia, co-director of the socialization program. “She has given unconditional support to our families. It has been amazing.”

Heather Mitchell, former director of the Parenting and Child Development program joined us for the farewell celebration. She said of Barbara: “I feel so grateful to have worked with Barbara for so many years. She’s one of the most giving people, and it’s wonderful to see her with the staff. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to so many people for so long.” True to her generous spirit, Barbara’s farewell party included a ‘gift’ from her to the Parenting and Child Development team: a lesson on slow breathing to reduce anxiety and stress.

The party also included a serenade of boleros!

Of her time at LSA, Barabara said: “It’s such a special place, in part because of you who are doing such important work, more important than ever. The work that you do here is bigger than any one individual.”

Barbara recently participated in a video, created in partnership with Catholic Charities, in which she describes her work with LSA families. We at LSA Family Health Service offer Barbara our deepest gratitude for her years of service.

Thank you!

The Parenting and Child Development team

Sebastian Cruz (left) and friends serenaded Barbara

22 Sep

Attendance Awareness Month

Attendance Awareness Month

“Here!”

September is Attendance Awareness Month, and we’re thinking about how important school attendance is for a child’s achievement.

According to Attendance Works, a kindergarten student who misses just 2-3 days per month may struggle to master reading by 3rd grade. And in the long-term, chronic absence increases the likelihood of dropping out of school. This makes “here!” one of the most important words a child may say today.

LSA’s programs contribute to school attendance by nurturing child health, family stability, and parent empowerment.

We asked our directors to share how their programs combat chronic absenteeism. Here’s what they said:

Early childhoodWendy Miron, Parenting and Child Development
We require regular attendance and punctuality to our early childhood socialization groups. As this is often the first entry point into the U.S. educational system for families in the program, it’s a good way for them to learn about the importance of attendance and the impact it has on a child’s education and work readiness skills. We also require punctuality and consistent attendance in the after school program. We reinforce the idea that missing school impacts children negatively: as they fall behind it becomes more difficult to be at grade level.

We know that unstable housing, domestic violence, and health issues are great contributors to chronic absences, so we also support families during crisis situations and provide them with appropriate referrals, ensuring they are able to meet their basic needs .

Nilsa Welsh, Preventive Services
If a child is experiencing chronic absenteeism, we usually assess the situation to determine the factors that are contributing to the absences. Once we identify the issues, we then address them. If the issues are clothing and/or school supplies, we provide that. Sometime it might be a bullying issue. In those cases, we advocate with school personnel. Depending on the age, we strongly suggest that the parent escort the child to school.

backtoschool_tutoringWith teens, we work closely with the attendance teacher and homeroom teacher to complete weekly attendance sheets, and we have monthly school visits with both staff members. We explore alternative teaching/school settings. Overall, we tend to use a comprehensive approach to ensure that tardiness and absences are closely monitored.

 

Lucia Russett, Advocacy and Food Pantry
When kids show up with their parents at the food pantry on a school day, we’ll give them a gentle nudge–oh, is she sick? Our entire food pantry schedule is actually organized around the school day, to make it easier for parents dropping off/picking up their kids. Also, sometimes there’s a new arrival to a family from another country, an older child, and we’ll make sure that kid gets connected to a school.
In addition to the food pantry, we give other kinds of family support that can improve school attendance. For example, by helping families avoid eviction through the housing legal clinic, we help keep them out of the shelter system. When we help parents with problems like housing issues, benefits and food assistance, we can improve or prevent some of the family problems that lead to chronic absence.

Shevon Skinner, Nursing/Certified Home Health Agency
Nursing focuses on child health, an important factor in child development and school attendance. One of the things we do is prepare parents to manage their children’s acute conditions. We do this by reinforcing adherence to their children’s’ prescribed medication regimens and treatments. We also teach parents how to identify symptoms that their child’s condition is worsening and early signs of distress, and we provide clinical interventions to control acute and chronic issues. Finally, we provide education and supportive measures to maintain overall wellness.

Ray Lopez, Environmental Health Services
Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism. Our program aims to prevent emergency room visits and hospitalizations which cause children to miss so much school. We accomplish this by teaching caregivers how to manage asthma symptoms and avoid asthma triggers.

17 Aug

GenNx Foundation Donates Laptops

GenNx Foundation Donates Laptops

Children in LSA programs gave a big THANK YOU to the GenNx Foundation.  The Foundation recently donated 10 laptops for our youth programs, which include after school homework help and tutoring and summer programs.  These laptops will be a huge asset to the program, since schools are increasingly assigning work that requires computers, but many of the children that come to LSA for services don’t have access to a computer at home.

In the photos below:  children in our summer youth program took the laptops for a test run during a break from their activities.

On behalf of the children and families that will benefit from the laptops, we offer the GenNx Foundation our heartfelt thanks!

GenNx Foundation Donates Laptops

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08 Aug

Summer Fun & Learning

Summer Poetry Workshop

While schools took a summer break, we kept children and parents learning this summer with a variety of programs and activities.  Here are some of the fun (and educational) things that have been happening at LSA this summer:

  • 36 children participated in the summer youth program at LSA.  The goal of this 4-week program is to prevent the summer slide – learning loss that can occur when children don’t continue reading throughout the summer months.  The program included both math and reading instruction, a poetry workshop by local poet Alex Greenberg, and other enrichment activities.
  • Parents enrolled in our Parenting and Child Development program attended a 4-week workshop on the 5 developmental priorities of our early childhood program: attachment and healthy separation, language and literacy, exploration and learning, self-regulation and emotional development, and connection to outside resources.
  • Families in the Parenting and Child Development program enjoyed two trips to the beach and a picnic.
  • Families in our Preventive Services program enjoyed a trip to Coney Island.
  • 36 children participated in the H.E.A.R.T. Camp and H.E.A.R.T. Prep summer programs at Convent of the Sacred Heart.  Children attended fun classes, including swimming, sports, dance, debate, math and reading.  Middle school students in the Prep program toured high schools to prepare for the high school application process.
  • 9 children from LSA families participated in a 1 week dance class with the Revolucion Latina Dance Company
  • Families participated in a 4-week Community CookShop class, to learn how to prepare nutritious and cost-friendly meals.
  • Our own Lucia Russet offered yoga lessons to parents and teens.
  • Families made use of Cool Culture passes to visit city museums.

To see more of what happens day to day at LSA, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Summer Beach Trip

Fun in the sun on a beach trip with the Parenting and Child Development families

Community CookShop

Cooking together during a Community CookShop class

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Our Preventive Services team gets ready for a trip to Coney Island

Yoga class

Lucia Russett leads teens in a yoga lesson

02 Aug

H.E.A.R.T. Camp

H.E.A.R.T. Camp 2016

This summer, children from LSA families participated in the Convent Of The Sacred Heart H.E.A.R.T program for 9-11 year old children,  and H.E.A.R.T Prep for 7th and 8th graders.

The collaboration with Convent of the Sacred Heart allowed 36 children whose families are clients at LSA to attend a four week summer program facilitated by high school students of Convent of the Sacred Heart. They were able to select between math, coding, swimming, art, debate, and more and attend field trips on Fridays.  The 7th and 8th graders did math and reading, and had the opportunity to visit high schools to gear them up for the high school application process.

Children participated in an end-of-camp graduation on July 29th, which highlighted the skills learned the previous weeks and the sense of community and friendship these children were able to develop in such a short period of time. Children performed and showcased poetry, songs, dance, and films they worked on together. They also participated in the camp’s first Guacamole Contest. Ashley Cantu, a long term LSA client, won this contest!

H.E.A.R.T. Camp 2016

Taste testing at the Guacamole contest

H.E.A.R.T. Camp 2016

Kids perform at the camp graduation

15 Jul

Labor & Delivery Class

Labor and Delivery Class

Moms Learn What to Expect at a Labor & Delivery Class

For the first time, LSA hosted a Labor and Delivery class, in collaboration with the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership.  Five expectant mothers and one dad participated in the workshop, which was conducted in Spanish.  The class included advice on diet and nutrition, the stages of labor, preparing a birth plan, and how to handle potential challenges.

The class was led by Kyra Caruso, a DONA certified birth doula, certified lactation consultant and certified Lamaze childbirth educator, based in Brooklyn, NY (walktalkyoga.tumblr.com).  The mothers in the class included both first time and experienced mothers.   Ms. Caruso encouraged all of the mothers to share their experiences.  “Every woman brings a different story,” she said.  “They can really benefit from each other.”

“This class is especially important when you’re talking about immigrant mothers,” said Sr. Suzanne Deliee, RN, who is a member of our nursing staff and leads breastfeeding and parenting workshops.   “They have no support system here,” she pointed out.  “They’re not with their elders.  The socialization aspect of this class is extremely important.”

Part of the class included breathing and exercises. “I was hoping to show them that more vocal breathing is okay,” said Ms. Caruso, who explained that deep guttural breathing is very beneficial during labor.

Some of the mothers in the Labor & Delivery Class have gone on to participate in the six-week Breastfeeding Workshop offered by Sr. Suzanne at LSA.

Labor and Delivery Class

Class participants had an opportunity to ask questions about specific concerns

Labor and Delivery Class

Participants in the class, with posters showing stages of labor