06 Mar

Census 2020 – Counting All New Yorkers

March 5, 2019 — Members of our staff joined over 200 members of the New York Counts 2020 coalition in Albany to advocate for funding to ensure that all New Yorkers are counted in the upcoming 2020 census.

An accurate census count in 2020 has implications for all New Yorkers.  At stake is federal funding, representation in Congress, accurate planning for schools and roads, and a basic understanding of who we are as New Yorkers that is used by governments, businesses, and researchers to make important and far-reaching decisions.

Close to 25% of New York State residents were not counted by the mail-in census in 2010, resulting in 2 lost congressional seats for the state and a loss of funding for critical programs.  According to the latest estimates, 36% of New York State residents live in hard-to-count neighborhoods, including our own neighborhood of East Harlem.  Populations that tend to be undercounted include: young children, immigrants, renters, people with limited English, people of color, low-income residents, young parents, Muslims, Native Americans, and homeless residents.

The 2020 census poses additional challenges that may make even more people harder to count.  This year’s census will primarily be conducted online, potentially excluding people with limited access to internet.  Also, a new question asking for citizenship status is under consideration by the Supreme Court.  With or without the citizenship question, experts believe that it’s suggestion has already had a chilling effect, making many fearful of responding to the census.

Community-based organizations are uniquely positioned to assist and reach the hardest-to-count groups because of their earned trust and cultural and language competence.  The NY Counts 2020 coalition is advocating for $40 million, based on a report from the Fiscal Policy Institute, to support census outreach by community-based organizations, with the goal of ensuring that New York State gets a fair and accurate census count.

When hard-to-count populations are missed in the census, the whole state suffers.

Why should a fair and accurate census count matter to all New Yorkers?

• Federal funds for health care, housing, roads and infrastructure, and other resources, accounts for a third of State spending.  An undercount of New York’s population may result in significant funding reductions.

• New York may lose one House of Representatives seat, and could lose two with a low count. The census is the only population count used for redistricting of Congressional, state, and local district lines.

• Our quality of life depends on an accurate census. City planning agencies use census data to decide where to build new infrastructure and provide community services such as roads, public transit, hospitals, health centers, schools, and senior centers.

• A robust economy depends on an accurate census. Businesses use the census to make decisions about where to create new jobs, build new offices, and invest in communities.

Sources: New York Counts 2020, Fiscal Policy Institute Brief on Census Outreach Funding

Additional resources: Census Counts 2020, U.S. Census Bureau



Photo above from The New York Immigration Coalition.

28 Feb

Time to run! 2019 TCS New York City Marathon

Team LSA

This is your year to run the TCS New York City Marathon!

If you missed the marathon lottery, you can still run as part of Team LSA.

Members of Team LSA apply through LSA Family Health Service and commit to raising $2,500 for our programs for children and families in crisis.

In exchange, team members will receive guaranteed entry to the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon, along with:

  • A New Balance running jersey with the “Team LSA” logo
  • Free access to a virtual training tool ($39.99 value)
  • A free ticket to the fall “Flavors of East Harlem” event, hosted by the LSA Junior Board
  • Reminder emails and tips to help runners with fundraising
  • Personal assistance with whatever runners need related to their 2019 TCS New York City Marathon experience

We have 5 spots available – make one yours!

Visit our marathon page to learn more, or contact Antonio Papini to reserve your spot: 646-672-5220.

31 Jan

Students share their dreams

January 2019 — Students in our K-3 after school program celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday by learning about his contributions to the civil rights movement and his efforts to promote equality for all.  Students wrote their own ‘I have a dream’ speeches and read them with the other students in the program.  Their dreams included wishes for all people to feel safe, an end to bullying, a cleaner planet, and toys for all children.

Below are photos of some of the students giving their speeches.  We hope all of their dreams come true!


25 Jan

3-K and PreK

Calling all 3s and 4s!

The LIFE program (Linking Immigrant Families with Early Childhood Education)at LSA is helping parents in District 4 enroll their children in 3-K and PreK programs.

Children living in District 4 and born in 2015 or 2016 are eligible for free PreK and 3-K programs in our neighborhood (zip codes 10035, 10029, 10027, and 10026).   We provide informational workshops to walked parents through the enrollment process, offering one-on-one application assistance, follow-ups and school tours.  We help families feel confident about the academic decisions they make for their children.

The application for 3-K and Pre-K opens in early February.   3-K applications close on April 18th, 2019 and Pre-K applications close on March 15th, 2019.

To schedule an appointment with a LIFE program coordinator, call 646-672-5200, ext. 324


25 Jan

Focus on Financial Health

January 2019 — Our Advocacy & Food Pantry program is kicking off the new year with resources that focus on financial health.  These resources are available through our partnerships with Food Bank for NYC and the Legal Aid Society.  Together, we’re helping people who visit our pantries move toward financial stability and self-sufficiency.

Financial Literacy Workshop & Employment Legal Clinic

On Jan. 18th we hosted a financial literacy workshop on financial goals.  The workshop was sponsored by Food Bank for NYC and led by our client advocate, Maritza Jimenez (in the photo above).

We also hosted an Employment law clinic with Legal Aid Society.  Lawyers were on hand to provide information pertaining to issues such as unpaid wages, minimum wage and overtime claims, discrimination–including discrimination based on criminal record, family and medical leave, and unemployment insurance benefits.

VITA – Tax  Preparation

With tax season at hand, we will once again start helping individuals with tax preparation, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, offered through the Food Bank for NYC.  We will be able to offer free tax return preparation help for people making $54,000 or less.  This program will start mid-February.

Financial Empowerment Center

We’ve been scheduling appointments for people to receive free one-on-one financial counseling at the city’s Financial Empowerment Center.  Counselors offer help with debt management, credit, creating a budget, opening a bank account, starting an emergency fund, saving for the future and more.  These referrals are being offered in partnership with Food Bank for NYC.

18 Dec

Brick Church Volunteers

A group of volunteers from Brick Presbyterian Church are turning their attention to East Harlem, as their previous work assisting homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy comes to a close.

They have committed to helping East Harlem families with home improvement projects in partnership with LSA Family Health Service.

The first project was to complete a project started by a new client of ours who wanted to brighten up her apartment and make it more comfortable for her 15 year old son, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

We thank the volunteers from Brick Church for dedicating their time to improving the quality of life for families in our community!

Volunteers painted and did home improvements on the home of a family in LSA’s Environmental Health program.

18 Dec

Building Bridges Art Exhibit

December 2018 — Our Building Bridges of Hope art therapy group for mothers held an exhibit of work created over the course of the fall.  The projects created represent the growth that each mother experienced as she processed her feelings through clay, photography, sculpture and doll-making. They express messages of courage and hope.

Building Bridges participants, group leader Monica Sanchez, and art therapy interns

HUMMINGBIRD  “I have a tattoo of a hummingbird. Aside from it’s meaning, it is a beautiful bird. It goes from to flower–the nectar of life–to survive. I want it to live in an open space, all green, with trees, a waterfall–the sounds of water and of nature are what calms me the most. I painted you purple because it represents calm and fills me with life, with light. The hummingbird, for its beauty, flies free, looks for what it needs and returns to nature.”

DOVE  “A messenger in white, carrying an olive branch — I read about it in the bible. It is a symbol of paz. There are so many battles. Many need peace but it doesn’t exist; they have lost it. I feel differently. New things are coming from me. I want the dove to live in the mountains, the white clouds and the blue sky.”

BUTTERFLY “From the caterpillar comes something as beautiful as a butterfly. It learns to survive and is so delicate. Like butterflies, we should learn to take flight and learn to be happy. I want it to live in a tranquil place, in a harmonious forest.”

A doll making project. Group participants were interviewed about their dolls. Diana described her doll as “trying to find who she is by exploring her life struggles and survive through that.” She is brave “because she has no choice.”

“I never had a doll. My mother was never able to buy me one. Now, at last, I have my doll and her name is Esperanza (Hope) because I still have faith in better life, to get what you want.”

A project for the Day of the Dead, honoring loved ones

14 Dec

Bringing Holiday Cheer

Each year, generous donors provide gifts for families receiving services at LSA, ensuring that there are presents under the tree for everyone.  On behalf of the families we serve, we give heartfelt thanks to holiday gift donors for bringing extra cheer to our community.   Thank you!

Holiday Gift Donors:

Convent of the Sacred Heart School
The Buckley School
Catholic Charities
Joelyn Cecere
Jillian Diehl
Brenna Moore and Friends
Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine
P.S. 106
Riverdale Country School
Robin Hood Foundation Adopt a Family
St. Francis de Sales
St. John’s Bread and Life
St. Luke’s Giving Tree
Zonta Club of New York City

Above: the holiday party for children in our K-3 programs.  Tutors donated money so we could host the party, and the Zonta Club of New York donated the gifts for the kids. Our social work interns helped ensured the party was a success and our own Sr. Deysi was Mrs. Claus.


Brenna Moore (left) with her children and LSA’s Monica Sanchez and Trish Gough. Brenna hosted a gathering at her home and invited her friends to bring gifts for moms in our programs. The gifts were beautifully packaged and given to mothers in our Building Bridges art therapy program.


Children from our programs visited Riverdale Country School, for Breakfast with Santa! They fun-filled day included activities with Riverdale high school students.

Michael Chung from the Convent of the Sacred Heart School dropped off presents for children in our programs donated by Sacred Heart families.





30 Nov

NYCHA Settlement Agreement Addresses Mold Conditions

November 29, 2018 – New York, NY – For LSA’s Community Health Workers, a recent court settlement with NYCHA brings hope that families and children with asthma will finally get a fast and thorough response to complaints of mold in their homes.

U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III approved a revised settlement agreement that he believes will hold the NYC Housing Authority accountable for making much needed repairs to homes with mold. The agreement introduces an independent data analyst, an independent mold expert and an ombudsperson who will oversee specific tenant complaints. The court will supervise the matter until NYCHA has demonstrated its compliance. (1)

Ray López, our Program Director and Director of Environmental Health Services, has been involved with Manhattan Together in the lawsuit that led to the agreement. He believes the decision will make a positive difference for families at LSA. East Harlem has one of the highest rates of children’s asthma emergency room visits in the city. Addressing asthma-triggering conditions like mold has been the focus of our community health work for the past twenty years.

“Our workers will be happy,” López said about the agreement. “It will be less frustrating for us. We’ve been documenting cases, going to NYCHA trying to get repairs. So we’re happy to have a new ally in this work.”

López explained how the court-appointed ombudsperson will help: “The Special Master [appointed by the court] focused on the systemic problems. He didn’t have the bandwith to speak to specific complaints. Now the ombudsperson will address that issue. NYCHA will need to send notice to the residents about what they’ve found and what they plan to do, and if the NYCHA tenant is not satisfied with the work, they can call the ombudsperson. The ombudsperson will be empowered to investigate the individual complaints and find the root causes.

“This is a relief for us because, essentially, we’ve been ombudspeople,” he added, referring to the advocacy LSA workers do on behalf of tenants. “But we don’t directly report to the court, so we don’t have that power.” He hopes that the recent agreement will result in improved conditions in homes and, ultimately, better health for families.

(1) A NYCHA mold lawsuit from 2013 gets a revised settlement approved, Nov. 29, 2018, AM NewYork

26 Nov

Holiday Dinners, Thanks to CSH Friends

Our great thanks to the students, parents and staff at Convent of the Sacred Heart, which have been such wonderful supporters over the years.  This Thanksgiving holiday, students donated apple pies and provided groceries for meals to 34 for families. They also donated funds to the food pantry for the purchase of milk, juice, and other essentials.

Here are a few photos of families picking up the donated groceries.