We often say that everyone at LSA is family, and sometimes we even mean that literally. Jaylin Santos was no stranger to LSA when she started volunteering; her mother, Kathy, has been the smiling face that you’ve seen for years greeting you at the front desk. Jaylin recently wrote a short reflection on her experience at LSA that is shared below.
As the holidays approach, we want to thank our wonderful volunteers, donors, staff, and East Harlem families that make LSA’s work possible. When you become a part of LSA, you join more than just a community-based non-profit; you become a part of a family.
Reflection On My Experience
By: Jaylin Santos
During the summer of 2019, I was allowed to volunteer at a non-profit organization in East Harlem, New York City, called Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Services (LSA). I heard of this opportunity from my mother who has been a receptionist here for more than 10 years.
That summer really helped me grasp a deeper understanding of the poverty and health determinants that were very evident in the East Harlem community – a largely immigrant and minority community.
I was able to see before me first hand how my help could directly impact a community. LSA, which is mainly run by volunteers and of course some staff, covered a multitude of different issues that could occur in a family household. LSA provides families with legal advice, food, clothes, education services, prenatal care, and most importantly a sense of community where families are given hope.
Over the summer I volunteered 40 hours every week for 8 weeks straight. Because the agency depends heavily on volunteer support, I was in high demand for the majority of my time here. Not that I minded, I loved it. It did however take a lot of hard work and dedication. I would go in with my mother every morning at 9 am.
On Mondays, I would get started stocking the pantry that would feed hundreds of families and work with a multitude of grateful people most of whom did not even speak English (good thing I’m bilingual!). On Tuesdays, I would visit The Sharing Place, a thrift store run by LSA that helps to provide low-cost clothing, housewares, and other items to the community. I’d work as the cashier and also help the clients on the floor when necessary. Some times when a client would come in without the money to buy what they needed, I would help them with stipends that could give them a fresh set of clothes. On Wednesdays, I worked with the summer camp and helped bilingual students learn how to read and write in English properly. On Thursdays, I would go to the nurses’ floor and help them organize the supplies that they would give out to less fortunate families. On Fridays, I would float and pick up whatever job needed to be done.
Needless to say, I was always exhausted but it was worth the feeling of doing good for a community that is less fortunate. Today, my sense of family at LSA continues and I work whenever able.