22 Sep

Attendance Awareness Month

Attendance Awareness Month


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.

08 Aug

Drives for Good

Organizing a drive for food, clothing, or other goods is an easy way to volunteer your time at home or work. A number of groups donate gifts for children during holiday drives, but we welcome donations all year round.
 Here are a few examples of drives you can organize to support LSA families:
  • Organize a clothing drive in your building or at your office – LSA can come pick up your donations!  Think seasonally: right now we’re in need of fall & winter clothing, coats, blankets, Halloween costumes.  (Please only donate items that are clean and in good condition!) Schedule a donation pickup
  • Organize a food drive at your work, school or church to support our pantry. Again, LSA will pick up the donation when it’s ready. We especially need food during the holidays, as we see more families during the holiday  season.
  • Coordinate an online drive.  Here’s a really easy way to organize a drive to support LSA – an online drive through YouGiveGoods.  YouGiveGoods will set everything up so that all your group members have to do is go to the drive page and pick the items they want to donate. Items will shipped directly to LSA. See a sample YouGiveGoods drive for school supplies.  In the photo above – students eat snacks donated through a YouGiveGoods drive!
  • Create a crowdfunding page to fundraise for LSA.  Invite friends, colleagues, and family to donate to LSA through a personalized page on Crowdrise. This is great if you are in a race, such as a 5K.  You could also dedicate your birthday by asking friends to donate make a donation instead of buying gifts. On your personalized page you can share photos and say why you believe in LSA.  All donations are tax-deductible, and you can be confident that all the donations made will be directed to the programs that need them most. Get started crowdfunding for LSA.  If you need help setting up your page or coming up with ideas, just give us a call (646) 672-5290, or email development@lsafhs.org – we’ll be happy to help!
03 Aug

Breastfeeding Tips

Newborn health

Tips for Success with Breastfeeding

Following are tips from Suzanne Deliee, RN.  Suzanne leads regular breastfeeding workshops for new and expectant mothers at LSA. To find out more or register for a workshop, contact us at (646) 672-5200.

Before the baby is born

Establish a support network:  The first thing to do is talk to other people, especially people who have had positive experiences.   Make sure you have other people involved for your support –the father, your partner or other people in your household.

Talk to your doctor about it and prepare yourself by reading about breastfeeding and about good nutrition during pregnancy.  You can also look for a good course, but make sure that it is in-depth and that it offers thorough information about breastfeeding.

At the hospital

As the birth of the baby approaches, make sure your doctor and the nurses at the hospital know right away that you want to breastfeed.

If you really want to be successful from the beginning, put the baby to breast immediately after birth — at least within the first hour.  Ask that the baby not be fed formula, and ask to have the baby sleep in your room or be brought to you when it is time to feed.

You can also ask for lactation support in the hospital.

In the first few days

Recognize that it’s a learning experience for both mom and baby.  Be determined not to give up easily!  Know that in the first couple of weeks breastfeeding will be your full-time job.  In the first days, you’ll need to feed your baby frequently to really get your flow established –  every one to two hours.   Eventually you’ll get a rhythm.

Patience and a good support system are your very best allies.  If you don’t go to a good support group, at least seek the support of some of your good friends.  Definitely elicit the support of your partner!

Advice for challenges

In the beginning, latch is important – make sure that the baby isn’t just sucking on the end of your nipple.  It should have a good grasp on the areola and on the breast.

If the baby is just sucking on the end of your nipple, put your finger in the baby’s mouth to break the suction, and take the baby off right away.  With a good latch, your nipple should be touching the top of the baby’s palate.  Though you’ll feel it when the baby really latches on, breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful; if the baby has a good latch, it won’t be.

If you’re having trouble with the baby latching, change positions to try to find one that the baby will be more comfortable with, and make yourself as comfortable as possible. The baby will feel your tension if you are uncomfortable.

Recognize the importance of skin to skin contact.  Try to nurse with the baby undressed (except for diapers!).  Skin to skin contact soothes your baby and makes her feel more comfortable.

Sometimes moms complain about having inverted nipples.  For a lot of moms – especially first time moms – their nipples don’t protrude enough for the baby to latch on easily.  The suction of the baby is the best force to bring the nipple out.  There also different apparatuses that may help, such as a breast pump.

Have patience and don’t give your baby formula or a pacifier in the first three weeks until the baby really establishes good breastfeeding habits.  And if you experience anything unusual, consult a lactation specialist.

11 Jul

A Wild Graduation!

Families in our Parenting and Child Development (PCD) program enjoyed a graduation ceremony complete with live music, dancing and — live turtles! The 3rd floor classrooms were transformed for the jungle-themed celebration, with vines hanging from the ceiling and animals, plants and trees decorating the walls. The graduation marks the completion of our early childhood program for children 0-3 years old.  While in the program, parents and children attend regular socialization groups which included movement, songs, games and exploration geared toward nurturing healthy child development. Families also receive home visits twice a month, at which LSA home visitors counsel parents on ways to support healthy development at home. The PCD staff work with parents to ensure that all of the graduating 3-year-olds are enrolled in a preK, preschool, or similar learning environment in the fall.  Congratulations to the young graduates!

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

Graduates line up for a photo

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

A young student shows off his peacock mask

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

Family photo with one of the graduates

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

Dancing in the circle

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

One of the children joins music teacher Angela for a song

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

Parent Committee leaders are an important part of the program

Parenting & Child Development Graduation

The Parenting and Child Development team!

10 Jun

Spring into Summer – Photos!

Thank you to everyone who supported our Junior Board party, Spring into Summer! The event, which took place at the Bowery Bar on June 9, 2016, raised more than $10,000 to provide education, health, food pantry, and advocacy services to strengthen families in crisis.  Guests enjoyed a photo booth, food, drinks, a raffle and silent auction, music and dancing.

Click the arrows on the left or right to scroll through photos from the evening’s festivities.

01 Jun

Volunteer Appreciation Night

Volunteer Appreciation Evening

LSA celebrates our wonderful volunteers!

May 31, 2016 – LSA Family Health Service celebrated the contributions of our volunteers at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Evening.

Staff and volunteers alike gathered for an evening of camaraderie, sharing stories, and a delicious dinner.  Speakers included staff members: Traci Lester, CEO; Trish Gough, Director of Volunteer Services; Russell Nobles, Chief of Program Operations; Lucia Russett, Director of Advocacy, and Wendy Miron, Director of Education and Youth Services. We also heard from volunteers Paulette Etoty, Priosca Galicia, and Robert Mazziotti. Special thanks to Omniwines for donating the beverages.

Below are words of inspiration and photos from the party…

Joyce Richardson, volunteer tutor
“I thought, ‘the kids trust me so much.’  But it’s not that they trust me — they trust the place, its friendliness and kindness — you can’t buy that.  They’re in a place where people love them.”

Robert Mazziotti, math tutor
“Something that every tutor, I’m sure, has experienced and really appreciates and gets a tremendous amount of joy out of is that ‘aha’ moment when the student finally takes something away that you gave them that’s going to grow in their garden for the rest of their life.  You’ve seeded it.  They’ve accepted it and planted it. …  That’s what I say is the main value to me of tutoring — the opportunity to help somebody step up to a new level of their educational experience.”

Prioska Galicia, volunteer with the food pantry, reception, and Education and Youth Services
“Everybody here has been really welcoming.  If you can volunteer – do it!”

Paulette Etoty, volunteer with the food pantry and The Sharing Place thrift store.
“When I realized how good, how welcoming, accomodating – how friendly this family is, I said ‘I may not have a job right now, but I’m going to give back.  I’m going to volunteer and I’m going to help.’  The joy I see in people’s faces when you put all that food in their basket, that just makes my day.”

Traci Lester, CEO
“Volunteers fuel the engine of what we do.”

Wendy Miron, Director of Education and Youth Services
“The kids thrive because of all of you.”

Lucia Russett, Director of Advocacy
“Our food pantry serves 2,000 people each month.  There’s no way we can do that without the volunteers.”

Click the arrows on the left or right to scroll through photos from the evening’s festivities.


25 Apr

Bello Mania

Children at Bello Mania event

A fun afternoon in Times Square raises money for LSA programs

April 24, 2016 — LSA hosted Bello Mania, a family benefit.  Over 60 guests attended the event, as well as 33 children from LSA programs.  The event raised $37,000 for LSA programs that strengthen families and help children reach their full potential.

The 33 LSA children who attended participate in our Education & Youth Services and our Preventive Services programs.  For many, the event offered a first: a chance to visit exciting Times Square and see a Broadway show.  Our special thanks go to Junior Board members, who volunteered to chaperone the children.

Click the arrows on the left or right to scroll through photos from the evening’s festivities.

12 Apr

Action NYC Provides Legal Help to Immigrants

Action NYC

LSA client advocate Pura Cruz takes on a new role as Action NYC Immigration Outreach Organizer

Submitted by Julia Correa

 As the daughter of two immigrant parents, Pura Cruz is driven by her passion to serve immigrant communities.  Since 2003, Pura has played an important role as a Client Advocate in the Advocacy Department, enrolling families in LSA services, helping them apply for benefits, and providing information about public services available in the community.

In her new role as an Immigration Outreach Organizer through LSA’s partnership with the Action NYC initiative, Pura now works to connect immigrants in upper Manhattan with free legal help.

According to the Mayor’s office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), more than half a million New Yorkers are estimated to be undocumented, and an estimated 700,000 additional New Yorkers are eligible to become U.S. citizens.  Action NYC is a citywide initiative through MOIA to connect those New Yorkers with free and confidential immigration legal consultations in all five boroughs.

LSA partners with Action NYC to do outreach in Northern Manhattan, including East Harlem and Washington Heights.  As an organization with deep roots in the East Harlem community, LSA’s partnership with Action NYC allows us to provide information to the people who would most benefit from the services offered.  In addition, we are able to help people get legal advice close to home, at our agency in East Harlem, through partnerships we already have in place with organizations like Legal Aid Society and CUNY Citizenship Now.

Pura Cruz

Pura Cruz sharing Action NYC information at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger

“ActionNYC is so important,” Pura says. “It shows how much New York City cares about its residents.”

Through Action NYC, she explains:  “New Yorkers can get the right answers from someone who understands their personal situation. And if they do qualify for services, then that expert will help with their case. It can’t get better than that!”

As an organizer, Pura spends a lot of time outside of the office.  She visits schools, public libraries, recreation centers and other community-based organizations. She shares information about individual rights and available services, and sets up appointments for people seeking further immigration advice.

One of the most common challenges Pura encounters are misconceptions about immigration law that make people mistrustful of outside help. Many individuals she meets have encountered unscrupulous lawyers who take advantage of immigrants seeking documentation and provide false guarantees of citizenship. She hopes that her presence will help dispel these rumors, and give people the confidence to seek help from reliable sources, like those provided through Action NYC.

For a fairly new initiative, the success of Action NYC is evident from the high demand for services.  Appointments are completely booked through May.  “This is something that the city did not anticipate,” Pura exclaims.  

She shares that many people come back to tell their success stories. The ultimate reward for her work is knowing that this initiative will allow immigrant New Yorkers to live fuller and more secure lives.

11 Mar

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Women and girls explore what it means to be a Strong Woman through the arts

All week, LSA families have been recognizing strong women in their lives in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

Both women and girls in LSA programs posed as ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ embodying the message: We can do it! Nosotras podemos!  Girls learned the history of the iconic image, and also discussed what it means to be strong and female.  Teens in the Girls Mentoring group created collages with images that reflected their thoughts about being a successful woman in today’s world.

A collage by a teen in our Girls Mentoring program

A collage by a teen in our Girls Mentoring program

Girls posed as Rosie the Riveter

Girls posed as Rosie the Riveter

Mujeres Fuertes - Strong Women

Women took photos in the pose made famous by Rosie the Riveter

On Tuesday, March 8th, some LSA clients got a special treat for International Women’s Day: free haircuts!  Awura-Abena, stylist and owner of Alta Spa in Ithaca, has been donating her services at LSA annually for years.  She got to know the agency when she stayed with the Little Sisters of the Assumption order while taking beauty classes, and remains close with the Sisters.

An LSA mom gets a haircut on International Women's Day

An LSA mom gets a haircut on International Women’s Day

The activities reached their culmination on Friday, with a luncheon and an art project in which women worked together to create a life-sized “superwoman” collage of words, images, and illustrations about strong women.

Mothers create a life-size mural

Mothers worked together to create a life-sized mural representing the strength of women.