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.


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

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

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

17 Oct

Video: Spirit of East Harlem 2017

Each year, LSA provides over 2,000 families with health, education and family support services.  In 1958, our founders began providing nursing care to mothers in East Harlem.  Today, we still offer maternal health nursing, with additional programs that strengthen whole families, including new immigrants to our community.  In this video, two mothers share their LSA story.

03 Oct

Spirit of East Harlem Gala, October 16, 2017

2017 Spirit of East Harlem Gala

The Spirit of East Harlem Gala is is an occasion for supporters to celebrate the impact and contribute toward the success of LSA Family Health Service’s programs for children and families.  Founded by the Little Sisters of the Assumption, LSA has been an anchor of the East Harlem community since 1958, serving over 2,000 families annually through health, education and family support programs that strengthen families and help children reach their full potential.

Learn more at: spiritofeastharlem.com.

We’re thrilled to announce our 2017 Spirit of East Harlem gala honorees!


Deerfield Foundation

Corporate Spirit Award
The Deerfield Foundation
Supporting healthcare initiatives that benefit children from underserved communities and all people that have disease or need healthcare services

Chita Rivera

Lifetime Spirit Award
Chita Rivera
Actress, Dancer & Singer
Recipient, Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ralph Sicilano, Esq.

Community Spirit Award
Ralph A. Siciliano, Esq.
LSA Board Member & Former Board Chair, 1987 – present
Partner, Tannenbaum, Helpern, Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP

As role models and advocates, the honorees at our Spirit of East Harlem gala on October 16th have each made unique contributions to the well-being of families in New York City.
We invite you to join us in celebrating their spirit!

Doreen Montalvo

Doreen Montalvo

A Tribute to Chita Rivera
Performed by Doreen Montalvo

Guests at the Spirit of East Harlem will enjoy a Tribute to Chita Rivera, featuring songs from her ground-breaking career performed by Doreen Montalvo.

Doreen Montalvo is a theatre/ television/ film performer and recording artist, currently playing Gloria Estefan’s mother “Gloria Fajardo” in the hit Broadway musical “On Your Feet” at the Marquis Theatre. She recently released a solo album “American Soul/ Latin Heart,” a song from which was pre-selected for 2017 Latin Grammy consideration. She was an original cast member of the Tony Award winning “In The Heights,” and is a recipient of a 2007 Drama Desk award for best ensemble.

PRESS RELEASE (download)

Chita Rivera

Broadway Legend Chita Rivera to Receive Lifetime Spirit Award at the Spirit of East Harlem Gala

LSA Family Health Service event expected to raise $1 million for health and education programs for low-income New Yorkers

New York, NY – Broadway legend Chita Rivera will be presented a Lifetime Spirit Award on October 16th at the Spirit of East Harlem gala for LSA Family Health Service.  Also being honored that evening are Ralph Siciliano, Esq. and The Deerfield Foundation. The event is expected to raise over a million dollars to improve the health and wellbeing of families living in poverty in East Harlem and surrounding communities.

“I’m thrilled that the Little Sisters of the Assumption (LSA) Family Health Service have chosen to honor me with their Lifetime Spirit Award,” said Ms. Rivera.  “This steadfast organization stands for so many things that I believe in—strength of families, diversity, dignity, justice and so much more.”

“Chita Rivera’s ground-breaking career is deeply inspirational and important to people of Hispanic descent everywhere, but particularly in our community of East Harlem where families, especially children, face profound obstacles to success,” stated Reada Edelstein, CEO of LSA Family Health Service.  “Her accomplishments stand as an example of what can be achieved when innate talent is nurtured in a supportive environment and brought to fruition through hard work and commitment.”

The evening will include a musical tribute to Chita Rivera, performed by Doreen Montalvo.  Doreen Montalvo is a theatre/ television/ film performer and recording artist, currently playing Gloria Estefan’s mother “Gloria Fajardo” in the hit Broadway musical “On Your Feet” at the Marquis Theatre. She recently released a solo album “American Soul/ Latin Heart,” a song from which was pre-selected for 2017 Latin Grammy consideration. She was an original cast member of the Tony Award winning “In The Heights,” and is a recipient of a 2007 Drama Desk award for best ensemble.

The Corporate Spirit Award will be presented to The Deerfield Foundation for its commitment to healthcare initiatives that benefit children from underserved communities and all people that have disease or need healthcare services.  It has been a long-time supporter of LSA’s environmental health and nursing programs, which seek to reduce the disproportionally high rates of asthma and infant mortality in East Harlem.

Ralph Siciliano, Esq. will be presented the Community Spirit Award.  Mr. Siciliano served for many years as the chairman of the board of directors of LSA Family Health Service and remains an active board member, helping to lead the agency through a period of transition and growth.  Mr. Siciliano is a partner at Tannenbaum, Helpern, Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP.

John Capetta and Virginia Chambers, LSA board members and co-chairs of the event, commended the contributions of the honorees.  “In addition to her accomplishments as an entertainer and role model, Chita Rivera has given her time and support to AIDS-related organizations and campaigns for public health throughout her career,” said Mr. Capetta.  “The Deerfield Foundation has been a steadfast partner with LSA in improving health outcomes in the East Harlem community, and Ralph Siciliano is a tireless advocate for children and families.”   Ms. Chambers added: “LSA Family Health Service is honored to recognize the impressive contributions that the Spirit of East Harlem honorees have made to New York.”

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

The gala will take place on the evening of Monday, October 16, 2017, at Guastavino’s in Manhattan. More than 400 guests are expected to attend the event, which raises essential funding for LSA Family Health Service’s health, education, and family support programs.

Event information and detailed honoree bios can be found at the event website: SpiritofEastHarlem.com.

CONTACT: Asari Beale, Director of Communications 646-672-5200.


LSA Family Health Service, founded by the Little Sisters of the Assumption, strengthens and empowers vulnerable families and children by meeting their basic needs for food, healthcare, education and a safe home, in the belief that affirming families in their own dignity improves the entire community.  It reaches some of the most marginalized families in New York City and helps them overcome the barriers that poverty and isolation pose to family health and wellbeing.

28 Sep

#PayItForward: Motivating Teens to Serve

PayItForward Student Panel

September 27, 2017 — “Every one of us is part of the community we’re in.  You’re either contributing or detracting from it.”

This is what Marina Hunt, a graduate of the Spence School, took away from her high school volunteer experience.  Marina joined a panel of student volunteers at #PayItForward, a forum on youth community service hosted by LSA Family Health Service and Convent of the Sacred Heart School.

Learn about volunteer opportunities at LSA!

Additional speakers included Adam Garner of DoSomething.org; Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist and certified school psychologist; Dr. Cappy Collins, a pediatrician who engages youth in community health programs; Naomi Varnis, an admissions director at Columbia University; and India LaRoda, Miss India America 2017 and a former Special Olympics volunteer with extensive service experience.

Audience members included a mix of students, parents and educators.  Their main questions were: what kind of service experience is most valuable for middle and high school students?  How can they get started? And how does it help them in the long term?

Naomi Varnis said, when she’s considering college applications “there is no one right type of service.  It’s about the quality of engagement that you have.”

For example, she said, volunteering with an organization over a long period shows that a student is really committed to its mission. “That kind of work can help students understand their role in the community.”

“When you are volunteering you are figuring out who you are as a person, how you interact with the world, and how you engage with other people,” said Dr. Sanam Hafeez.   She pointed out that the teen years are essential years for self discovery, and volunteering can play a positive role in helping teens understand and define themselves.

“Being a professional, doesn’t mean wearing a suit and tie.  It can be giving someone a box of cereal so their children can have food in the morning, or a bag of rice so they can have food at night.”

– Cristo Rey student Nathanael Hinds, on what he learned as a volunteer

The student panelist shared how volunteering changed their view of the world and of themselves.  “Through service, I have become more of an activist,” said Grace Wilson, student body president of Convent of the Sacred Heart who taught young children at the school’s student-run HEART summer camp.

Nathanael Hinds, a student of Cristo Rey New York High School who volunteered at the LSA food pantry throughout his sophomore year in high school, said volunteering opened his eyes to careers that can make a difference in the world.  “Being a professional,” he said, “doesn’t mean wearing a suit and tie.  It can be giving someone a box of cereal so their children can have food in the morning, or a bag of rice so they can have food at night.”

For students who don’t know where to start when it comes to volunteering, India LaRoda’s advice is for students to look to their own interests. “Think about what you’re passionate about,” she said.  “That will make you want to volunteer.”  Her own experience volunteering with the Special Olympics in middle school inspired her current work as a behavioral interventionist for children with special needs.

Adam Garner, campaigns manager at DoSomething.org, an online platform that motivates young people to make positive change, described the spirit of service as the desire to help others without the need for personal recognition.  He summed it up saying simply:  “If you can help, you help.”

#PayItForward was organized by the Parents Committee of LSA Family Health Service, a group committed to engaging youth in service at the East Harlem nonprofit.  The event was cohosted by the Covent of the Sacred Heart School and sponsored by Carnegie Hill Neighbors and Gourmet Garage.

PayItForward India LaRoda

India LaRoda and guests; India shared insight from her extensive volunteer experience.

PayItForward Guests

Students of Convent of the Sacred Heart school shared in the spirit of the event by volunteering to distribute materials and assist guests.

PayItForward Adam Garner

Adam Garner shared his personal take on what volunteering is really about.

PayItForward Student Panel

Student volunteers described what they learned from their service experiences.

PayItForward Expert Panel

Speakers described the benefits for teens engaged in service.

25 Sep

New Report: Community Health Workers Combat Asthma


LSA and the New York Academy of Medicine Report on an Innovative Approach to Reducing Childhood Asthma Symptoms

September 2017 — A new report from the Academy and Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service focuses on an innovative Community Health Worker (CHW) program which assists low-income families in addressing conditions that exacerbate childhood asthma. It describes program services and their impact from the perspective of participants, who note the importance of education, skill-building and advocacy for addressing unhealthy housing conditions.

The CHWs in our Environmental Health program are a first line of defense in health care.  As described in this report, CHWs helped families to develop knowledge and skills to reduce household asthma triggers; in addition, CHWs and became important advocates, helping families to settle of complaints with housing management.

As a result of LSA’s innovative approach to community health, 80% of school children in the program had fewer or no urgent care or emergency room visits as a result of asthma.

The findings and recommendations offer useful insights for modeling similar programs in cities nationwide.


Lead authors Linda Weiss, PhD, and Ray Lopez are available for interviews or background. Media contact: Asari Beale, LSA Family Health Service, 646-672-5200.

25 Sep

Relief Efforts for Mexico and Puerto Rico

United for Mexico and PR

A large number of LSA families are not only from Mexico, but are from the states that were most impacted by recent earthquakes.  In addition, a number of families, staff and community members are Puerto Rican and have family members on the island.

LSA is committed to helping those that are most vulnerable.  We are joining with others to collect items to support those impacted by these natural disasters.


LSA is partnering with MASA to collect goods specifically for people in towns in the states of Puebla and Morelos, where there is high need and where help thus far has been limited.  We will be accepting donations THIS WEEK, Monday through Friday, September 25th-29th, at LSA between 9am and 7pm.  LSA is located at 333 East 115th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue.  Please let the receptionist know that the donations are for Mexico relief efforts.  See the flyer below for additional locations in the Bronx and Brooklyn.  The items we are requesting are:

  • Food: canned food, milk powder, sugar, salt, coffee
  • First Aid items: guaze, bandages, alcohol, medicine, gloves, soap, antibiotic cream, mouth masks, aspirin, ibuprofen
  • Hygiene products: soap, sanitary towels, diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, deoderant, toothpaste, toothbrushes
  • sleeping bags, blankets, sheets


LSA is supporting the City’s relief efforts to collect critically-needed items for Puerto Rico. Donations of the items listed below can be dropped off at 18 firehouses and EMS stations across the five boroughs. The drop-off site located in East Harlem is Engine 28/ Ladder 11: 242 E. 111th Street, New York, NY 11220. A complete list of drop-off locations can be found here. Itens that will be accepted include:

  • diapers
  • baby food
  • batteries
  • first aid supplies
  • feminine hygiene products.

Donations will be accepted during the hours of 7 am through 9 pm.  Please be aware that FDNY members at these locations may not be present during drop-off hours if they are responding to an emergency.  Also, please note that the City is only collecting the items listed above.


10 Feb

Borough Excellence Award

Food Bank for NYC Borough Excellence Award

LSA’s Advocacy and Food Pantry Program was awarded a ‘Borough Excellence Award’ by Food Bank for NYC

New York, NY – February 7, 2017 – LSA was presented the Borough Excellence Award at the Food Bank for NYC’s Conference on Hunger and Poverty on February 7, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  The award distinguished LSA’s food pantry as among the best in the entire borough of Manhattan.

The food pantry at LSA Family Health Service is part of the Advocacy and Food Pantry program.  It feeds, on average, 1,900 individuals a month in a grocery store style, client-choice pantry.  The demographic served by the pantry is the primarily immigrant, low-income community of East Harlem, which has been marked for decades as having among the poorest health outcomes for children in New York City, including having among the highest rates of asthma, childhood obesity, and infant mortality.

Providing healthy food options is an important aspect of the pantry.  It offers fresh locally farmed produce during the growing season, through United Way of NYC and Just Food’s Local Produce Link program.  It has also received fresh produce from Grow NYC and even a local community garden.  Cooking demonstrations throughout the year show families how to cook with the vegetables being offered in the pantry.  And a Community CookShop class – in partnership with Food Bank for NYC and the Mario Batali Foundation – teaches families how to shop for and cook healthy meals on a limited budget.

The Advocacy program serves as a primary entry point for LSA’s family support services.  In 2016, the program’s five staff members facilitated 6,863 client visits for food and 7,642 client visits for services. These included one-on-one meetings with families to understand and address their needs.  Key partnerships allow the Advocacy program to connect families with free legal help to prevent evictions and help enrolling in Medicaid.  As a member of the ActionNYC initiative through the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the agency has been doing extensive outreach throughout the city to connect immigrants with free legal support.

LSA is deeply honored for the recognition of the Borough Excellence Award.

Food Bank award

LSA client advocates receive the Borough Excellence award at the Food Bank for NYC Conference on Hunger and Poverty.

11 Nov

Protecting the American Dream

Updated: February 1, 2017

LSA Family Health Service stands with immigrants, refugees and people of all faiths, and supports national and local policies that preserve and protect the rights of immigrant families.  LSA will continue to provide Health & Wellness programs and Family Support services without regard to immigration status.  We are committed to the families of East Harlem. We are friends and neighbors, and we work together to make the community better for everyone regardless of country of origin, religion, or ethnicity.  

November 11, 2016

Dear Friend,

Elections, by their very nature, create uncertainty about the future.  For the families LSA serves, the vast majority of them first or second generation immigrants, the uncertainty they live with every day is now amplified.

LSA Family Health Service is uniquely positioned to address this heightened uncertainty.  We are located in a largely immigrant neighborhood, and our history has been one of meeting the unique needs of this population.  Our Parenting and Child Development program is, in essence, an immigrant socialization program for young families, our Advocacy/Food Pantry program offers assistance with benefits access and legal problems, and our Home Nursing and Environmental Health programs provide essential health services regardless of status.

Because of our expertise, location, and mission, we are going to double-down on services.

We are focusing our efforts to make sure these services continue at this critical point.  And we are reaching out to our clients and community to let them know that we stand steadfastly with them, and are prepared to help and support them in any way we can, as we always have.

In New York City, the positive impact immigrants have made in the last 40 years is profound.  According to the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA)*:

  • Crime tends to fall faster in precincts receiving more immigrants. For every 1 percent increase in a precinct’s population due to immigration, an average of 966 fewer crimes are committed each year.
  •  Immigration is responsible for reversing New York City’s population decline, helping the economy to thrive once again. Without the immigrants that arrived since 1980, the city’s property tax base would be $500 billion lower than it is today.
  • Immigrants are contributing to the personal wealth of city homeowners. The roughly 2 million immigrants who have arrived in New York since the 1980s are responsible for a $188 billion boost to home equity citywide.

At LSA, the immigrants we know are parents who go without in order to provide for their children. They work 12, 15, 18 hours a day at the lowest paying jobs, in order to provide their children the best opportunity for the future they can give. They come to us eager to contribute to the greater society, and we welcome them with open doors.

To our extended family of volunteers, partners and supporters:

We reaffirm our commitment to protecting the health, well-being and safety of immigrant families that contribute so much to New York City.  We will continue to support them as they pursue the American dream.


Reada Bunin Edelstein