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.”


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.

16 Apr

#foundatthesharingplace campaign takes off!


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.

13 Mar

Family Service Day

Family Service Day – a fun day for all!

March 11, 2018 – Teens and their parents joined children and families in LSA programs for an afternoon of fun.  The event was hosted by the LSA Parents Committee, a group of volunteers who promote student service opportunities at LSA to NYC school communities.

The event included a monster-making craft activity, snacks and a hilarious show with Looney Louie the clown.  Snacks included delicious tacos donated by local Mexican restaurant Hot Jalapeno.

Our thanks to the wonderful teen and parent volunteers who made this event so much fun for the children who participated.  Special thanks to the Parents Commitee for hosting, and to event underwriters Robin Poulos and Cecilia Vonderheide.  And finally – thanks to photographer Kaddy Tsang for taking such great photos!

24 Jun

Verano Verde raises $20K!

Scroll through photos from the evening by clicking the right and left arrows, below.

Verano Verde  Photos by Kaddy Tsang

June 22, 2017 — New York, NY — LSA’s Junior Board raised over $20,000 for LSA programs at Verano Verde: A Celebration of East Harlem.

Over 150 guests attended the event, which was held at the Frieda and Roy and Furman Gallery at the Lincoln Center Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater.   The evening included music by Sebastian Cruz and delicious food reflecting the flavors of East Harlem.

On behalf of the Junior Board, we thank all of the fantastic event sponsors and all the guests and donors who helped make this event such a success.  


If you couldn’t make it to Verano Verde, you can still make a donation to support LSA’s life-changing programs for families in East Harlem.



El Paso Restaurante Mexicano * Omni-Wine  * Rosa Mexicano  *  Siete Foods  *  Nocciola Housemade Pasta * Grano Gluten-Free  *  Greensbury Market  *  Hot Jalapeño Restaurant *  Nocciola Pizzeria e Trattoria *  Costco  *  The Film Society at Lincoln Center  *  J Cellan Florists  *  Imperial Vintner Wine & Spirits  *  At Your Service Event Planning  *  Kaddy Tsang Photography


16 Jun

El Paso at Verano Verde

Verano Verde

VERANO VERDE : A Celebration of East Harlem, hosted by our Junior Board, is just around the corner on June 22nd!  (Tickets to Verano Verde are sold out, but you can still learn more and contribute to support LSA programs.)

We’re excited about the amazing line-up of food sponsors contributing tastes of East Harlem to the evening. The main sponsor is El Paso Restaurante Mexicano which will offer an authentic Mexican taco bar and its exotic signature cocktail, a fusion of tequila and tamarind.

Read the inspiring story of Rodrigo Abrajan, chef and partial owner of El Paso, below.

Other delights will be provided by:

Rosa Mexicano
Siete Foods
Hot Jalapeño Restaurant
Greensbury Market
Grano Gluten-Free

Along with the delicious eats, guests will enjoy a silent auction and live Latin jazz by the talented Sebastian Cruz.

Our thanks to the fantastic food sponsors and to all those contributing to make a Verano Verde a success!


About Rodrigo Abrajan, Chef at El Paso Restaurante Mexicano

Rodrigo Abrajan

Rodrigo Abrajan

Located in the heart of El Barrio (Spanish Harlem), El Paso Restaurante is recognized as one of the finest Mexican restaurants in the country. Its menu features classic regional Mexican cuisine prepared with authentic recipes and fresh ingredients, and includes a wide selection of tequila and mezcal.  Here is the story of El Paso’s chef, Rodrigo Abrajan, in his own words…

My name is Rodrigo Abrajan and I am part owner and chef at El Paso Restaurante Mexicano. I was born in Puebla State, Mexico, and when I was 11 years old, I use to wait tables at a restaurant there and help the kitchen prep small sandwiches. This was my first introduction into the restaurant world.

I came to New York City in the summer of 1990 at the age of 16 years old. At first I didn’t realize how far away New York City was or that I was going to end up in the biggest and most important city in the world. When I arrived it was hard for me to find a job as an underage, skinny boy from Mexico.

Finally, after two months, I got a job as a dishwasher at Pellegrino’s in Little Italy.  When I started there I would always look around and watch the chefs make pasta and ask if I can help. Some cooks didn’t like that I was always watching and asking to help, but others would let me put butter and oil in the pans. I remember one cook asked me if I liked to cook. At that time I didn’t realize cooking would become my passion.  I worked at Pellegrino’s until the middle of November.

After Pellegrino’s, I worked with a variety of food vendors and restaurants.  For a week I helped another guy selling hot dogs out of a pushcart. From November until the spring of 1991, I worked at a Chinese restaurant where I was a delivery boy and helped with prep. In the spring of 1991, I worked in an Italian kitchen. In the mornings I would help the kitchen prep and at night I was a coffee boy. Working there helped me become familiar with a lot of fresh herbs and ingredients that I didn’t know you could cook with. In Mexico, basil is used as a remedial herb. I had no idea it was such a huge part of Italian cooking. Shortly after, I was given the opportunity to be a cook for a small sandwich shop in Midtown.  I never had any formal training or schooling; as I worked my way through the many different restaurants, I would watch the chefs carefully and learn my techniques that way.

In the summer of 1993, my best friend asked me to join him in selling tacos on the street. I put in my two weeks notice at my job and started selling tacos out of a wood cart. We bought the wooden cart for $800 from an old Puerto Rican man who used to sell alcapurrias out of it. We ran that cart on 104th Street and 3rd Avenue. In 1994, we got our stainless steal pushcart. Two years later we opened our first food truck, which we operated from 1996 to the spring of 1999. Then we opened up our first Taqueria on 104th and Lexington Avenue and a second location on 97th Street. When we opened, it was a big change for me because I never worked with a food menu before. Selling tacos on the street didn’t require a menu. I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help, so I would call my mom in Mexico and ask her what ingredients to use for my recipes. This was when I really found out I had a passion for Mexican cuisine. Then I opened El Paso in 2009, and I have been there ever since.

Coming here at a young age and not knowing anybody or having a lot of money, I was able to work my way up through this business. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities that have been given to me since I arrived in this country and I will never forget the people who have helped me learn and succeed.

El Paso Restaurante

El Paso Restaurante


09 Jun

Thank you, volunteers!

LSA celebrated the invaluable contributions of our volunteers at the annual Volunteer Appreciation evening! Volunteers received a gift of thanks – a bright yellow umbrella – and shared stories about their meaningful experiences here at LSA. Thank you to all the volunteers who make a difference here every day!

Click the left and right arrows to view photos from the evening.

26 Apr

National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week, and here at LSA we are counting our volunteer blessings!

We have an amazing group of dedicated, passionate volunteers who support nearly every program at LSA.  From after school tutors, to homework helpers, early childhood classroom assistants and food pantry and thrift store helpers (to name just a few), our volunteers are truly invaluable to the services we provide to our East Harlem neighbors.

75 volunteers are currently supporting LSA. We know we really can’t do the good work we do without them!

We are celebrating all week on social media by highlighting some of the amazing volunteers who help us serve the community, like Fran, the volunteer tutor in the photo above.   Read about her and other volunteers below.

We’ll be celebrating again on June 9th, at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Evening.

From the bottom of all our hearts here at LSA, THANK YOU volunteers, for all you do!



25 Apr

Verano Verde

Verano Verde

Save the Date for

VERANO VERDE: A Celebration of East Harlem

Hosted by the Junior Board of LSA Family Health Service

Get Tickets Now!

June 22, 2017
6:30pm – 9:30pm
in the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery, Lincoln Center Film Society
at plaza level on the north side of West 65th Street
165 West 65th St

Enjoy cocktails, refreshments, entertainment and a silent auction

All proceeds will support programs for children and families at LSA Family Health Service.


26 Jan

Community Service Stars

Community service student volunteers

January 18, 2017 – Three students from the Convent of the Sacred Heart school shared their personal stories of community service with our Parents Committee, illustrating how a strong collaboration with a school can lead to robust student-led service opportunities that benefit the student volunteers as much as they do LSA children and families.  The students – all seniors – have been involved for several years in CASA (an after-school art program at LSA), H.E.A.R.T. Swim Program, and H.E.A.R.T. Summer Program.

Our Parents Committee, which has been exploring ways high school students can be involved with community service at LSA, was thoroughly impressed and inspired by these community service stars!

Below are their stories in their own words.

CSH Swimming

Alessandra: H.E.A.R.T. [Health, Education, and Responsible Tools] Swim Program

After 406, the athletic facility, was completed at the beginning of my sophomore year, the H.E.A.R.T Swim Program was developed to teach underprivileged kids to learn how to swim. There were originally about 10 boys and girls from ages 4 to 12 attending these swim lessons every Saturday from 12 to 1 pm, and they were coached by a few members of our Varsity Swim Team. When I first met these children, I understood even better how lucky and blessed I have been throughout my life, and it gave me a reality check. The beauty of this swim program is that while we are constantly looking for new students to join, the same group of children has been participating since the beginning, and I’ve been able to develop close relationships with many of them. I look forward to seeing their bright smiles and cheery dispositions on the pool deck as I watch each of them fall in love with the sport that has been such a transformative part of my life.

I’ve witnessed this drastic change in all my swimmers after three years, but especially in Evelyn. At first, this swimmer struggled with developing the proper stroke techniques. I would notice that she’d feel overwhelmed by the other girls who had already mastered the basics. Now, three years later, Evelyn is effortlessly swimming laps in all four strokes. I can see her bright smile from across the pool deck every time she finishes another set. Her positivity keeps the rest of my group motivated, and her progression from a timid swimmer to a determined young girl is truly admirable.

The children that were too scared to dip their head under the water are now diving off the blocks and obsessed with swimming every stroke, especially butterfly. They learn from each other and are developing valuable skills at a young age that they wouldn’t have otherwise. I am still a volunteer for the H.E.A.R.T program, and I have watched it flourish. Just a few weeks ago, we started a second program on Saturdays because of the success that emerged from the first one. The number of participants continues to grow as more children are having the chance to utilize the Sacred Heart pool.

This has been a rewarding experience for me as an instructor because I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the sport I’ve pursued wholeheartedly throughout high school. Now, as captain of the Varsity Swimming Team, whenever I hear a teammate groan about plunging into the pool at the crack of dawn, I remind them how much we love this sport and how fortunate we are to be able to push our physical and mental limits in a safe environment. Teaching swimming has taught me that the best way to give back to my community is to share the things I love most.

Emily: CASA (Children’s After School Studio Arts)

I began CASA when I was in eighth grade here at Sacred Heart and used it as a means to both help me transition to my new school, since I arrived in seventh grade, but also to give back to my cultural community. We used to hold CASA classes here at Sacred Heart and focused mainly on ceramics and clay.  Now, every Tuesday, 3-4 student teachers go up to Little Sisters of the Assumption in Harlem and teach elementary school students, ages 6-8, different art techniques and projects.

Although LSA recently lost some funding for the arts, they received a grant that allowed us to expand the program from what was originally only 6 kids to about 12-16 students. It allowed us to have a bigger space and have more room for the activities. We leave at 3:30 and return by 5:30 the latest. We create the curriculum and really get a chance to become leaders in our community.

I love CASA because I am able give back to students who are in the same position I was a few years ago. I used to go to public school and wasn’t exposed to the different materials and art supplies we have here. I am able to share resources that we take for granted. Every time we begin the semester with watercolors, I am surrounded by confused faces because many of the children have never even seen watercolors before.

I specifically remember one little boy named Ian. He was very shy at first and struggled with understanding some of my instructions because his first language was Spanish. I was able to remove the language barrier and make him comfortable by speaking to him in Spanish and asking if he needed any help. Ian wasn’t familiar with watercolors and I remember telling him not to soak the paintbrush too much in water and to collect more paint on the brush for more pigment. He became one of my strongest students.  It reminded me that many times underprivileged students in the public school system don’t have the tools and resources to discover their talents and reach their fullest potential. I enjoy giving these students a place to be creative and express themselves. These little things have made me stay and lead CASA for so long.

Agnes: H.E.A.R.T. Summer Program

For the past two summers I have participated in the H.E.A.R.T summer program,  a program for kids mostly from East Harlem to help them learn about new academic—yet fun—things, and about how to eat a healthy diet, started by our very own Mr. Chung. Our job is to provide them with the tools to explore and discover new experiences, giving them the opportunity to learn not only new things, generally, but new things about themselves.

This past summer was our sixth year, and I was fortunate to be able to teach a music class as well as being one of the lead swim instructors. It was important for me to make sure that they were enjoying swim class not only for fun but also for the betterment of their health. We learned different strokes, had races, and there were even a few kids who were learning how to swim for the very first time. One boy, Irving was afraid to actually even touch the pool water the first day. Within a little under a month, he was swimming up and down the pool.

In my music class, I was able to teach the kids about basic music theory, including different types of notes, rhythm, etc. We even wrote our own melodies! We also learned about different genres and composers, and prepared six or seven songs, that were ready to perform for our last celebration.

My favorite part of the H.E.A.R.T program was our end of the year celebration. I saw how happy the children were to be showing the work they had done for their families. HEART is not just about education or community, it’s about spreading love.  I’m so excited to see where it will go.