23 Oct

Connecting with Global Migrant Leaders

Above:  Melina Gonzalez (third from right, bottom row) with other migrant and immigration advocates at the TMDD training in Dublin.

LSA’s Melina Gonzalez Traveled to Ireland to Share Our Immigration Outreach Strategies

The NPNA (National Partnership for New Americans) invited our Immigration Outreach Organizer, Melina Gonzalez, to participate in the “Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue: Nothing About Us Without Us — Migrant Leadership Convening, ” from October 12-14, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

This training brought together 50+ migrant and refugee leaders from across Europe and US to discuss the current political climate, work being done around migration and refugee rights, and key models/strategies. Melina was the spokesperson for the We Lead program and the Community Navigators in NYC.

According to the Immigrant Council of Ireland: “The purpose of the Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue is to harness migrant leadership and building of migrant-led movements across Europe. It’s an opportunity for peer learning, information exchange and to sharpen expertise – it’s also a chance to work alongside like-minded, determined, passionate change-makers and have a lot of fun! The training attracted migrant leaders from 50 nationalities resident in Europe.”

Melina describes the experience:

The main reason for me to go to the “Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue (TMDD 2018)” in Dublin, Ireland, was to learn how European countries are working with immigrants and their communities and to share how we work with immigrant communities in the U.S.  It has been one of the best work experiences ever! Before I knew it, I was surrounded by all the diversity that makes life more colorful, exciting and joyful.

I achieved so many things in the TMDD–it exceeded my expectations! I met an incredible number of people in a brief period. Many have become real friends, and most have participated in making my experience unforgettable.

The cultural exposure was the most exciting part of my journey, and I experienced it daily. Being surrounded by people from all over the world speaking different languages makes you feel like you are in an ‘open country’ which welcomes everyone and gives everyone a chance. 

I never thought that I would be able to do so much in such a short period. Visiting EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum was an exciting experience. I could easily imagine the journey and hopes of immigrants arriving and leaving Ireland. Traveling, working and living abroad makes one grow and become more confident; it opens minds and is self-rewarding. It forces people to ask questions, to listen, to be patient, to take initiative, to understand others. I like to think that cross-cultural experiences should be mandatory today; it could solve some of the world’s problems.

A presentation at the TMDD training in Dublin, Ireland.

24 Sep

High School Volunteer Open House

book marks

Teens Attend Open House for Volunteers

High school students volunteer with our programs in various ways, earning community service credit and giving back to the NYC community in meaningful ways.

On Sept. 23, the LSA Parent Committee, a group of parents who volunteer to promote service opportunities at LSA, hosted a volunteer Open House for teens.  Teens from a number of schools attended to learn more.

In addition, we introduced the LSA Youth Board as a fun new way to get involved. The Youth Board, which was founded by a Spence volunteer and is just getting started this fall, offers an opportunity for high school students to support LSA through fundraising activities and unique volunteer efforts.

The Open House gave participants a taste of what it might be like to volunteer with the after school program.  Volunteers and children from the program made book marks together and enjoyed a tasty pizza dinner. Our thanks to the Parent Committee and to the volunteers who made it such a fun afternoon!

volunteer tutor

Mac shared her moving experiences as a tutor to a student struggling to develop writing skills.

student volunteer

Mia talked about her experience volunteering in our food pantry and introduced the new Youth Board

A little help please! Volunteers helped children make colorful book marks

In addition to making book marks together, volunteers and children got to know each other by talking about their favorite things

Children put their creativity to work making unique book marks.

14 Sep

Back to School & Diaper Drives

Kids in our programs got geared up for school with a little help from our friends!

Our thanks to school supply and backpack donors:

The Brooke Jackman Foundation
Church Pension Group
Disney
Emerson Reid/USI
Insperity
Morgan Stanley
St. Francis de Sales
St. Monica’s

Special thanks to Morgan Stanley!

Morgan Stanley held drives to donate school supplies,  snacks for our children’s programs, and diapers and wipes for families with babies and toddlers.  In addition, some representatives from the company joined us to help distribute diapers.  These supplies are a tremendous help for our families.

THANK YOU!!

Students pickup backpacks and supplies, getting ready to go back to school

Backpacks from the Brooke Jackman Foundation

Diaper giveaway

(above and below) Parents picked up diapers, distributed by friends from Morgan Stanley.

13 Sep

2017 Annual Report

Our 2017 annual report is now available online, including a financial report and highlights from the year describing our impact in the community.

Click here to see the annual report!

Highlights from our 2017 Annual Report

Bottle gourd

Our Advocacy & Food Pantry program significantly expanded its ability to stabilize families by introducing electronic benefits enrollment, in collaboration with the Food Bank for NYC.

A 2017 report, released in collaboration with the New York Academy of Medicine, shared findings about our innovative Community Health Worker (CHW) Environmental Health program, which assists low-income families in addressing conditions that exacerbate asthma.

Nursing

Rich data from our Nursing program was presented at the 2017 New York State Pediatric Advocacy Coalition annual conference.

Our Preventive Services—a program in contract with the NYC Administration for Children’s Services—ranked #2 in excellence among similar agencies citywide.

The summer cohort of our youth program—part of the Parenting and Child Development program—received increased academic support, with 93% of children gaining at least one reading level.

Communal weaving

Mental health services complimented the work of all LSA programs with greater depth and reach in 2017, thanks to a grant from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Improving Health Equity and Maternal Infant Health Outcomes (MIH) project.

In 2017, the Sharing Place helped distribute hundreds of coats and winter accessories to families in need, including those newly arrived from Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

AND.. We ended fiscal year 2017 with a surplus! This earned us a 4-star rating with the nonprofit watchdog group, Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator - 4 Star Charity

2017 Infographic

15 Aug

Thank You to Summer Volunteers!

USI volunteers

We couldn’t do it without you!

student volunteers

Student volunteers in our food pantry

We’re so lucky to have wonderful volunteers who joined us this summer:  students, corporate groups, and others who chose to give their time in service to our community.  We thank the many volunteers who have made a difference, with special thanks to groups from JP Morgan and USI for their service!

All About Pandas

“The kids are all pleasant, fun and engaging. It’s clear that the program is adding value.” —Gary K.

A group of volunteers from JP Morgan joined students in our summer program for an afternoon of activities all about giant pandas. Together, children and volunteers learned panda facts, made their own paper pandas and even found a name for the new class mascot–“Pamboo.”

JP Morgan

JP Morgan volunteers joined children in our summer program.

JP Morgan Volunteers

Volunteers helped children record “panda facts.”

#USIGivesBack

Employees from Emerson Reid/USI volunteered in our food pantry and thrift store in a company-wide service campaign. They helped with our weekly pantry distribution, assisting visitors to the pantry in selecting foods for their families. And they helped sort donations of clothing, preparing them for the Sharing Place thrift store, sales from which help support our other programs.

“I had a wonderful time helping in the food pantry!  I loved interacting with clients and even using a little bit of Spanish that I leanred in high school.  I am glad to have helped them smile and receive any resources they needed.”  —Danielle C.

USI volunteers

Volunteers from USI helped out in our food pantry.

USI volunteers

USI volunteers also helped sorting clothing in our thrift store.

13 Aug

LSA Beats Summer Slide

Children in our summer program beat the summer slide with science, reading, and fun field trips!

The program for children in K-3rd grades, wrapped up in early August.  Over the course of the program, activities helps prevent learning loss or the “summer slide”– a loss in several months of academic gains that can happen over the summer school holiday.

The best way to prevent the summer slide is by reading, and kids in our program did a lot of that!  The overall theme for the summer curriculum was water, and the children read and wrote about a number of topics related to the environment.  Trips and activities helped to reinforce what they learned in the classroom.  For example,  on a trip to Randall’s Island, children explored a salt water marsh and learned about wetland conservation.  They used binoculars, magnifying glasses, fish nets, and traps to find animals in the wetlands, and they did writing and drawing activities to describe what they learned.

On another trip to the Harlem Meer, the children measured water quality and learned about native plants.  They also learned all about giant pandas, with help from guest volunteers from JP Morgan.

Parent engagement was an important part of the program.  Once a week, parents accompanied children for workshops and activities to help them support the academic development of their children at home.  One activity included a trip to the neighborhood library.

The summer program was run by a combination of trained educators and volunteers.  We extend our thanks to the teachers, volunteers and interns from Make the Road and Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) who help make this program so successful for the kids and their families!

Tie-dying

It wouldn’t be summer camp without tie-dying!

Tie-dying

Children learned about the dying process, hands-on.

Randall's Island

On a trip to Randall’s Island, children learned about wetlands.

Randall's Island

On Randall’s Island, discovering wildlife

Parents and children reading together

Parents and children read together in our classroom.

Library trip

Parents joined children for a field trip to the library.

 

 

13 Aug

Video: Celebrating 60 Years

In 2018, LSA Family Health Service celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Little Sisters of the Assumption settling in East Harlem to provide health care and other support services to families.

This video, originally aired at the Spirit of East Harlem gala on May 8, 2018, shares who we are and what we do from the perspective of staff, volunteers, and the families we serve. It reflects the spirit of mutuality—that in lifting others, we are all lifted—that is at the heart of our work and that of our founders.

Join us in building community and creating opportunities for children and families to thrive!

Donate today

Video production by honto88.

 

31 Jul

At the Border

Laredo, TX

At the border, an LSA staff member translates with compassion

July 30, 2018 — Melina Gonzalez, LSA’s Immigration Outreach Coordinator, spent a week  in Laredo TX this July, volunteering as a translator for women detained at the Mexican border and pro bono lawyers that traveled there to help them.  Below is the message she shared with LSA staff and friends.

Melina’s message reminds us of the difference a compassionate presence can make for those in crisis.  It also reminds us that the challenges faced by immigrant families persist.  In our largely immigrant neighborhood of East Harlem, in New York City, where immigrants are central to the city’s history and identity, our commitment to immigrant neighbors remains strong.

We thank Melina for her service, and we are proud of her commitment to helping families, both here and in Laredo.


“I just want to be with my family!”

I have only been in Laredo TX for three days, and I have already witnessed more suffering and injustice then I have seen in all my years working with the immigrant communities in NYC. All I hear from these  woman is, “I want to be with my family!” As an immigrant woman and mother, I can’t bear the thought of not being with my children.

We are not allowed to show any affection to the women we are interviewing—this has been the most difficult part of my journey. I feel the need to comfort them, but I cannot. So I focus all my energy in my work as a translator and do the best I can to make sure all their questions are answered and that all the details of their cases are communicated to the lawyers.

I want to thank all of you for your continued support and affection. It’s because of all of the support of my family, friends and coworkers that I can be here helping this group of lawyers to make a difference in so many ways for the women that are detained in Laredo, TX.

 With much gratitude,

Melina

20 Jul

Field Trips Keep Kids Learning

Students in the k-3 grade summer program are beating the summer slide by exploring the theme of ‘water’ in books, writing and field trips.

On a recent trip to the Harlem Meer at Central Park, the children used scientific methods to examine water quality and the surrounding environment. They kept track of their observations in field journals.

The children sampled the water for E. coli, bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates and nitrites, chlorine, hardness and pH.  They observed the temperature change in the meer using digital thermometers. And they also identified animals and trees around the park (oak, beech, ginkgo, bald cypress, black locust).

Throughout the summer program, children will continue learning about the environment and about different bodies of water.  By keeping children engaged in learning, our program combats the “summer slide,” the tendency to lose some achievement gains students made the previous year.   In 2017, 93% of children in our summer program gained at least one reading level.

Thank you to the great team of teachers, volunteers and interns from Make the Road and Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) who make trips like these possible!

Children took a field trip to the Harlem Meer

Children took a field trip to the Harlem Meer

Measuring water qualities

The children had the chance to measure different water properties.

A magnifying glass helps students see particles in the water.

A magnifying glass helps students see particles in the water.

Children keep track of their observations in field journals

Children keep track of their observations in field journals

 

06 Jul

Building Bridges Summer Exhibit

June 28, 2018 — Families and guests enjoyed an exhibit of work created by mothers in the Building Bridges of Hope Art Therapy Group entitled Las mujeres inmigrantes somos poderosas / We, the immigrant women, are powerful.   The exhibit included works of papier mache, weaving, felting, doll-making, painting, photography and sculpture, among other techniques.

The Building Bridges group works with women and mothers with children 1.5 to 3 years old.  The goal of the group is to empower women, helping them to increase self-esteem, build confidence, and learn effective ways to deal with stress and prevent the negative impact of toxic stress in their children and themselves.

The group provides support to achieve these goals by providing the clients with the stepping stones in understanding toxic stress and trauma, learning self-expression, reducing feelings of shame and guilt, and developing coping skills to deal with stress, anxiety and depression.

Mónica Sanchez, senior mental health counselor and licensed art therapist, led the group, with the assistance of Argelia Tlatelpa.  Our special thanks go to:

  • Partners SAORI Arts NYC, Mano a Mano and Materials for the Arts for lending their expertise t o our workshops and providing art materials and other resources.
  • The musicians who came together for this special concert for LSA’s clients performing songs that were especially selected for our clients: Mireya Ramos, Grammy winner and founder of Flor de Toloache, violin and voice; Nilko Andreas Guarin, guitar and voice;  Sinuhé Padilla, leona and voice; Sebastián Cruz , guitar, requinto and voice.
  • The mothers in the group who brought so much heart to each project.
  • Childcare providers Natividades Prudente and Eulogio Cortez and volunteer Bonnie Jurkschat, who allow mothers in the group the time to reflect, heal and learn.

Below are a few photos from the exhibit.

Monica Sanchez (center) introduces the musicians who performed for guests at the special exhibit.