22 Jun

Keep Immigrant Families Together

LSA Family Health Service stands against family separation and for family reunification.

The current immigration crisis in which children are being separated from their parents resonates with us as an organization that:

  • strives to keep families in crisis together;
  • works closely with immigrant families in East Harlem who sacrifice so much to make a better future for their children;
  • provides mental health services to families experiencing the trauma of being separated from their loved ones in coming to this country;
  • is made up of trained professionals who understand the fragility of a developing child and the lasting trauma that separation from a parent can cause;
  • is a community of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.
We urge our legislators and government agencies to return the children quickly and prevent the toxic trauma to children that results from prolonged separation from parents. And we urge them to begin serious work on an immigration policy that is moral, just and humane, and to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated.

What we’re doing to help

For the families we serve, immigration policies that result in families being indiscriminately torn apart have increased the levels of toxic stress in individuals, families, and the community at large. These effects are likely to have long-lasting consequences and intergenerational layers of traumatic stress.

While policy-level changes are essential, the services immigrant families receive through our programs, including a supportive and safe environment, mitigate some of the negative experiences of trauma and loss.

Our on-staff Immigration Outreach Coordinator continues to provide up to date information and resources to families. In the past year, over 1,000 people have participated in our Know Your Rights workshops, and over 400 people received free, on-site immigration legal assistance.

Our counseling and support groups give community members an opportunity to discuss their concerns and fears about immigration policies and the current situation at the border.

We are seeking speakers of indigenous languages in our community to provide translation help to RAICES, a Texas-based organization working to reunite families.

We will continue to mobilize our community to respond in any way we can.

What you can do

Cayuga Centers in East Harlem is looking for Spanish-speaking foster families that would be wiling to temporarily care for immigrant children.  People willing to foster should be Spanish-speaking, live in New York City, and have a bedroom for the child. If you are interested in serving in this role, call the agency’s Home Finding department at 718-860-1656.

Volunteer as a Child Advocate for a unaccompanied migrant child. A Child Advocate is an adult who volunteers to spend time with and advocate on behalf of an individual unaccompanied immigrant child while he or she is subject to deportation proceedings.  Visit Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights for details

The New York Immigration Coalition offers a list of resources for those who wish to take action, including links and referrals to upcoming rallies, information on the most recent immigration legislation, and links to volunteer opportunities and petitions.

Contact your legislators and urge them to close loopholes that allow for family separation. Tell them that you want our government to return separated children to their parents immediately. (Look up contact information for your representatives here.)

Join LSA in the End Family Separation March and Rally taking place on June 30th, 10am – 2pm.  Click here for more details on how to participate.

Make a donation to support LSA Family Health Service and our work with immigrant families in East Harlem.

Updated as of June 23, 2018

12 Jun

New Paths to Family Health

Our six core programs offer vital health and social services to improve family health and well-being. In addition, services offered through our program partners, like financial literacy classes, nutrition workshops, summer camp programs, and legal services offered right in our community center give families opportunities to learn and build a strong foundation for the future.Below are some of our newest initiatives to improve the quality of life for New York families.

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program – LSA partners with the Food Bank for New York City on VITA to connect low-income New Yorkers with free tax preparation services. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) serves people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and others who need assistance in preparing their returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In 2018, LSA was able to offer VITA to over 30 clients.

LIFE Project – Through the LIFE (Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education) Project, LSA promotes enrollment in PreK for four-year-olds and in the new “3K” program for three-year-olds. The goal is to make more families in the neighborhood of East Harlem aware of the availability of these programs offered by the NYC Department of Education. The PreK and 3K programs offer free, high-quality early childhood education. Studies show that early childhood education sets children up for success throughout their school years. During the enrollment period, LSA staff members have been holding information sessions in the community and offering hands-on assistance to parents interested in enrolling children in these programs. The LIFE project is available through a grant from the New York Immigration Coalition.


“Our partnerships really expand what we’re able to offer families,” said Ray Lopez, Director of Programs at LSA Family Health Service. “By collaborating with other organizations, we’re able to give families even more tools to build a stronger future and, ultimately, a stronger community.”


New Domestic Violence Protocol for Preventive Services – Earlier this year, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice announced a new protocol to help identify and intervene in domestic violence cases. Under this new protocol, families in high-risk cases who are receiving prevention services like those offered at LSA will be screened for risk factors and helped to develop safety plans. LSA’s A-rated Preventive Services program is funded by ACS and will be following this new protocol, working with investigative consultants to strengthen our program and ensure the safety and well-being of children.

Nutrition and Language – East Harlem is home to a vibrant immigrant community, including families from Latin America who speak indigenous languages and have rich cultural traditions dating back to pre-Columbian times. To respond to their specific language and health needs, LSA partners with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) to offer health and nutrition classes to speakers of Mixtec (spoken in parts of Mexico), Mam (spoken by a Mayan group in Guatemala), and other indigenous languages. The classes offer community members ideas for nutritious and culturally relevant meals. Through this partnership, the DOHMH is reaching a segment of the population that it has not engaged with in the past.

Women Empowered to Lead (WE Lead) Community Navigator and Mentorship Program – Kudos to Melina Gonzalez (pictured above on the left), LSA’s Immigration Outreach Organizer, for being accepted into the WE Lead Program’s Immigration Navigator Cohort through the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). This opportunity will allow Melina to become a Department of Justice Certified Instructor.The WE Lead Community Navigator Program is a women’s empowerment training and workforce development initiative — launched by The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Jones Day Law Firm and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) — to train Community Navigators, empower immigrant women and their communities, and expand immigration legal services.


This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 Open Door Newsletter.  By Barbara Norcia-Broms.

Photo above:  Tamara received her tax return check after filing through the VITA program

06 Jun

Yarn Painting Workshop with Mano a Mano

On Thursday, Mano a Mano joined parents in our nursing and art therapy groups to lead a yarn painting workshop through it’s Mexico in New York program. They made Wixara-inspired yarn paintings. Through the program, mothers in our Building Bridges art therapy group have also learned how to make a Tsikuri yarn object (“el ojo De Dios”) and paper flowers inspired by Mexican folk art traditions.

The yarn paintings are inspired by the visionary art of the Wixarika (Huichol) people native to the Mexican states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas. Using multicolored yarns, each participant created a unique artwork based in traditional designs.

Our art therapy workshops target mothers in the community.  They offer the women who participate an important opportunity to connect with each  other and with their own thoughts and emotions through the vehicle of self expression.

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders is a New York-based non-profit organization  dedicated to celebrating Mexican culture and promoting the understanding of Mexican traditions.   Mexico in New York is a program designed to bring Mexican art and culture to classrooms and community groups. All activities include a lecture on the history of the tradition followed by a workshop or live music and dance performances.

10 May

2018 Gala Photos

Anniversary Cake

THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our 2018 Spirit of East Harlem Gala!

May 8, 2018 — Close to 400 guests danced and dined at The Plaza Hotel in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Little Sisters of the Assumption providing services in East Harlem.

A Lifetime Spirit Award was presented to rock legend Ronnie Spector, who performed two of her greatest hits, including “Be My Baby,” which filled the dance floor.

Let Lee, Founder of FPS/Nexus Financial Services was presented a Community Spirit Award for his steadfast support, and Sr. Susanne Lachapelle was presented a 60th Anniversary Spirit Award for her years of inspiring leadership.

The gala was followed by an After Party, hosted by our Junior Board.  (Click here to see photos and learn more about the Junior Board)

The gala is our single most important fundraising event of the year. It is instrumental in helping fund family health services that transform lives in East Harlem and surrounding communities.

You can still participate in our 60th Anniversary celebration by making donation today!

Donate

Click the left and right arrows to scroll through photos from the Gala!

 

2018 Spirit of East Harlem Gala
Photos by Metin Oner and Kaitlyn Jackson.

09 May

Ronnie Spector Honored at the Spirit of East Harlem Gala

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Ronnie Spector Honored at the Spirit of East Harlem Gala

 The event raised close to $1 million for LSA Family Health Service programs in East Harlem

 May 9, 2018 – New York, NY – On May 8, 2018, LSA Family Health Service, founded by the Little Sisters of the Assumption, celebrated its 60th anniversary at the Spirit of East Harlem gala at The Plaza Hotel.

The event included dinner, dancing, and awards presented to Ronnie Spector, Founder of the Ronettes and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee; Let Lee of FPS/NEXUS Financial Services; and Sister Susanne Lachapelle, LSA, a nurse and community advocate.

In addition, Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes, who appeared together this year for the first time since the 1970s, performed two of their greatest hits at the charity event.

“I am beyond thrilled to be a small part of LSA’s 60th anniversary Gala celebration,” said Ronnie Spector.  “As someone born in Spanish Harlem, who grew up in humble surroundings, I know the services provided by LSA are needed now more than ever. The children and families in East Harlem need to be able to dream, just like I did when I was a little girl.”

The gala was chaired by Scott and Kateri DePetrisYoko Ono Lennon and Chita Rivera served as Honorary Chairs.

Around 400 guests attended the gala, which raised close to a million dollars to improve the health and wellbeing of families living in poverty in East Harlem and surrounding communities.

Sixty years ago, four nurses and a social worker from the Little Sisters of the Assumption congregation moved to East Harlem to provide health care and support to families in poverty.  Today, LSA Family Health Service provides food, health, education and family services to over 7,000 individuals in East Harlem and surrounding neighborhoods and is a recognized innovator in human services.  The organization makes a special effort to reach immigrant populations that may be marginalized or unable to access services due to poverty, language and other barriers.

“For 60 years, the Little Sisters of the Assumption and LSA Family Health Service a hub of strength for families in East Harlem, helping them to build brighter futures,” said Reada Edelstein, CEO of LSA Family Health Service.  “We are proud of our legacy and we celebrate the contributions of our three special honorees.”

The Spirit of East Harlem was endorsed by a number of elected and appointed officials, including Diego Gomez-Pickering, Consul General for Mexico in New York, and United States Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer.

About the Honorees

Ronnie Spector, Lifetime Spirit Award – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Spector’s swagger, moxie and trademark voice (still instantly recognizable from the first note) defined an era. Now in her sixth decade as a performer, Spector has come a long way from her East Harlem roots: ‘Be My Baby’ has been named the #1 Greatest Girl Group Song of All Time by Billboard Magazine, has been added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, preserved as a work of historical and cultural significance, and is also now an official addition to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Let Lee, Community Spirit Award – A long-time supporter of the LSA’s mission, Let Lee was the President and co-founder of Matrix Financial Services and Nexus Financial Services. Presently, he is a private investor and co-founder of the first organic farm brewery in New York State.

Sister Susanne Lachapelle, 60th Anniversary Spirit Award – Since 1962, Sr. Susanne has been a powerful voice for family health in the community.  She has been recognized with numerous awards for her work, including a New York State Legislative Citation as Nurse of Distinction.

Paula McInerney presents the Community Spirit Award to Let Lee.

Dr. Barbara Brenner presents the 50th Anniversary Spirit Award to Sr. Suzanne Lachapelle

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes

01 May

Actor Brian Tyree Henry Visits The Sharing Place Thrift Store

Brian Tyree Henry

April 2018 — Spectrum News NY1’s My NY featured “Atlanta” and “Lobby Hero” star Brian Tyree Henry giving a tour of his favorite places in Harlem – including The Sharing Place Thrift Store at LSA Family Health Service!

We are proud of his endorsement of our thrift store, which is a great shopping destination for bargain, fashion and treasure hunters alike. All proceeds from the store support our programs for children and families.

View the full My NY segment on Spectrum News NY1 (advance to 4:00 for The Sharing Place)

Watch Henry’s visit to the store, below…

21 Apr

Planting Seeds for Earth Day

Planting Seeds Earth Day

Children in our Parenting & Child Development program planted seeds in honor of Earth Day

The socialization classes, which are geared toward children 0-3 years old and their parents, involve activities that nurture age-appropriate development.

For Earth Day, that meant decorating planters out of recycled bottles, filling them with soil and planting seeds in them.  The group also did an activity honoring the four elements of earth, air, wind and fire.

These activities encouraged parents as well as children to be good stewards of the earth.

In addition, children in grades K-3 who participate in our after school program learned about conservation and created a mural in honor of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2018

Children and parents worked together to decorate planters made from recycled water bottles.

Earth Day 2018

The children planted seeds and will watch them grow in the coming weeks.

Earth Day 2018

A display includes native seeds, a drum, a seashell, and other items to represent the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Rain didn’t stop the Earth Day festivities

 

Students in the After School program work on a mural for Earth Day

Students in the After School program show off their Earth Day mural

16 Apr

#foundatthesharingplace campaign takes off!

#foundatthesharingplace

A new campaign features fun fashion #foundatthesharingplace

This National Volunteer Week, we salute the many volunteers who help make all we do possible!  Kaitlyn Marie Jackson, the creative force behind the #foundatthesharingplace campaign, is a great example. Photos can be seen on the Instagram account for The Sharing Place, LSA Family Health Service’s thrift store, this April.

Kaitlyn is a student at Pace University majoring in arts and entertainment  and with double minors in photography and special events marketing.  She had been volunteering at the thrift store when she came up with the idea for the campaign.

“The campaign started with a class advocacy project assignment and I decided to combine my culture, passions, and education to create the #foundatthesharingplace campaign,” said Kaitlyn.

The campaign features selected items from the store, modeled by her friends and styled and photographed by Kaitlyn herself.  The vibrant photos show off The Sharing Place’s amazing low prices.

“Volunteering with the Sharing Place has allowed me to find and help a community very similar to mine, which I have missed since my move from Texas to New York,” Kaitlyn said. “I love that I get to help both indirectly, through the marketing campaign and directly, in the store.”

Follow @thesharingplace to see more of Kaitlyn’s fantastic photos!

16 Apr

Geography Workshop

An introduction to the world…

Five high school students from the Dalton School have been introducing children in our after school program to the globe in a weekly geography class.  Developed by geography enthusiast Ryan McCormack, the workshop has helped the young participants to expand their view of the world and their place in it.

Ryan describes the experience of leading the after school workshop, below.

My name is Ryan McCormack, and I go to the Dalton School on the Upper East Side. For my entire life, Geography has been a passion of mine. For that reason I began a Geography Club at my school. Finding success in this, I realized that my pursuit of spreading my joy of Geography should not be limited to my community.

I reached out to LSA last year with the idea of beginning a workshop for the students, and when I found out that we had the green light, I was incredibly excited. Along with a few other students, including Tyler Azzam, Max Radomisli, Oliver Fisher, and Noah Delgado de Torres, we have begun to host a workshop each Thursday after we finish school.


“The entire experience has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us.”


Working last year with kids from Kindergarten to 3rd grade, we decided it would be best to begin with something that is incredibly important when it comes to world geography: understanding the continents. The continents can be used as a starting point to understand countless other areas of geography, such as countries, oceans, rivers, and mountains.

After the students learned the continents, they became much more receptive and excited about other aspects of geography, which opened the door to successful and engaging lessons. Before we knew it, the students began to know different countries, native animals, and indigenous plants all around the world.

This year, we began working with around 15 kids from 3rd grade, and now we have been working with kids in Kindergarten. The entire experience has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us, and there are specific moments which remind me of this. For example, one time, as we were examining different countries, I mentioned Mexico, which visibly brought excitement to much of the class, whose parents hailed from Mexico. It’s moments like this one that definitely have a great impact on me, as it shows that my work is actually bringing joy and interest to the children.

Geography has been important to me for my entire life, and I hope that I can get the younger generation of kids interested in the subject that is so important for understanding the entire world. I definitely have a new understanding of myself as a result of volunteering, and my work with the children at LSA has made me want to turn to more volunteering in the future, and I have realized how important it is to educate the new generation. Even if what I do does not specifically impact the understanding students may have with geography, I want my work to be able to spark their interest in the same way that it sparked mine when I first looked at an atlas in third grade.