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.

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.

 

 

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.

05 Jul

PCD Graduates Blossom

“Flowers Growing in Life’s Garden” was the theme of graduation for forty 3-year-olds and their parents in our early childhood socialization groups, part of our Parenting and Child Development program.

The program is geared toward families for children 0-3 year old, where there is some risk of developmental delay in the child.  Through the socialization groups and one-on-one home visits, LSA’s early childhood specialists guide parents with parenting techniques to help their children achieve developmental milestones at the appropriate time.  The five focus areas of the program are: attachment and healthy separation, language and literacy, exploration and learning, self regulation and emotional development, and connections to outside resources.

All of the children graduating are either already enrolled in a “3k” or other preschool program, or being assisted by our LIFE (Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education) project coordinators.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends high-quality early education and child care to improve childrens’ outcomes and prepare them for school.

The graduation theme, “Flowers Growing in Life’s Garden,” was visible everywhere, with flowers decorating the walls of LSA’s 3rd floor.  Teachers dressed as insects and children wore flower tee-shirts.  LSA wishes all the graduating families a happy summer and joyous start in their new schools this fall!

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.

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