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.





25 Apr

Bello Mania

Children at Bello Mania event

A fun afternoon in Times Square raises money for LSA programs

April 24, 2016 — LSA hosted Bello Mania, a family benefit.  Over 60 guests attended the event, as well as 33 children from LSA programs.  The event raised $37,000 for LSA programs that strengthen families and help children reach their full potential.

The 33 LSA children who attended participate in our Education & Youth Services and our Preventive Services programs.  For many, the event offered a first: a chance to visit exciting Times Square and see a Broadway show.  Our special thanks go to Junior Board members, who volunteered to chaperone the children.

Click the arrows on the left or right to scroll through photos from the evening’s festivities.

12 Apr

Action NYC Provides Legal Help to Immigrants

Action NYC

LSA client advocate Pura Cruz takes on a new role as Action NYC Immigration Outreach Organizer

Submitted by Julia Correa

 As the daughter of two immigrant parents, Pura Cruz is driven by her passion to serve immigrant communities.  Since 2003, Pura has played an important role as a Client Advocate in the Advocacy Department, enrolling families in LSA services, helping them apply for benefits, and providing information about public services available in the community.

In her new role as an Immigration Outreach Organizer through LSA’s partnership with the Action NYC initiative, Pura now works to connect immigrants in upper Manhattan with free legal help.

According to the Mayor’s office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), more than half a million New Yorkers are estimated to be undocumented, and an estimated 700,000 additional New Yorkers are eligible to become U.S. citizens.  Action NYC is a citywide initiative through MOIA to connect those New Yorkers with free and confidential immigration legal consultations in all five boroughs.

LSA partners with Action NYC to do outreach in Northern Manhattan, including East Harlem and Washington Heights.  As an organization with deep roots in the East Harlem community, LSA’s partnership with Action NYC allows us to provide information to the people who would most benefit from the services offered.  In addition, we are able to help people get legal advice close to home, at our agency in East Harlem, through partnerships we already have in place with organizations like Legal Aid Society and CUNY Citizenship Now.

Pura Cruz

Pura Cruz sharing Action NYC information at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger

“ActionNYC is so important,” Pura says. “It shows how much New York City cares about its residents.”

Through Action NYC, she explains:  “New Yorkers can get the right answers from someone who understands their personal situation. And if they do qualify for services, then that expert will help with their case. It can’t get better than that!”

As an organizer, Pura spends a lot of time outside of the office.  She visits schools, public libraries, recreation centers and other community-based organizations. She shares information about individual rights and available services, and sets up appointments for people seeking further immigration advice.

One of the most common challenges Pura encounters are misconceptions about immigration law that make people mistrustful of outside help. Many individuals she meets have encountered unscrupulous lawyers who take advantage of immigrants seeking documentation and provide false guarantees of citizenship. She hopes that her presence will help dispel these rumors, and give people the confidence to seek help from reliable sources, like those provided through Action NYC.

For a fairly new initiative, the success of Action NYC is evident from the high demand for services.  Appointments are completely booked through May.  “This is something that the city did not anticipate,” Pura exclaims.  

She shares that many people come back to tell their success stories. The ultimate reward for her work is knowing that this initiative will allow immigrant New Yorkers to live fuller and more secure lives.

11 Mar

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Women and girls explore what it means to be a Strong Woman through the arts

All week, LSA families have been recognizing strong women in their lives in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

Both women and girls in LSA programs posed as ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ embodying the message: We can do it! Nosotras podemos!  Girls learned the history of the iconic image, and also discussed what it means to be strong and female.  Teens in the Girls Mentoring group created collages with images that reflected their thoughts about being a successful woman in today’s world.

A collage by a teen in our Girls Mentoring program

A collage by a teen in our Girls Mentoring program

Girls posed as Rosie the Riveter

Girls posed as Rosie the Riveter

Mujeres Fuertes - Strong Women

Women took photos in the pose made famous by Rosie the Riveter

On Tuesday, March 8th, some LSA clients got a special treat for International Women’s Day: free haircuts!  Awura-Abena, stylist and owner of Alta Spa in Ithaca, has been donating her services at LSA annually for years.  She got to know the agency when she stayed with the Little Sisters of the Assumption order while taking beauty classes, and remains close with the Sisters.

An LSA mom gets a haircut on International Women's Day

An LSA mom gets a haircut on International Women’s Day

The activities reached their culmination on Friday, with a luncheon and an art project in which women worked together to create a life-sized “superwoman” collage of words, images, and illustrations about strong women.

Mothers create a life-size mural

Mothers worked together to create a life-sized mural representing the strength of women.



08 Mar

St. Patrick’s Day Arts with Brick Church

March 5, 2016 — Members of the Brick Presbyterian Church joined LSA children for an afternoon of art.  The theme of the activities was St. Patrick’s Day.  Volunteers from Brick Church worked with LSA children as they completed three activities, including a four-leafed clover decorated with images of things that made them feel lucky.  Kids and adults all had a great time!

Children's art for St. Patrick's Day

Children decorated four-leaf clovers with messages about things that made them feel lucky

Children work on art project

Green sprinkles were a favorite addition to children’s artwork

Brick Church Volunteers

Volunteers from Brick Church

St. Patrick's Day Celebration with friends from Brick Church

Children’s artwork on display