Celebrating 60 Years

Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service

Celebrating 60 Years of Service!

LSA Family Health Service has been operating in El Barrio/East Harlem since 1958.  But our roots go back to 1891, when the first Little Sisters of the Assumption arrived here from Paris to nurse patients in their own homes with respect and dignity.  Today, we look forward to a future of innovation and partnership, to continue advancing the health and well-being of our fellow New Yorkers.  Below is a timeline of our growth over the last 60 years.

1891: Welcome to New York

1891:  A story in The World newspaper describes the arrival and mission of the Little Sisters of the Assumption.

Our history begins with the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, founded in 19th-century France by Father Étienne (Stephen) Pernet and Antoinette Fage. These two visionaries dedicated their lives to serving God and loving the poor and marginalized. The congregation grew and spread worldwide.  In 1891, the Little Sisters came to New York City, settling in the Lower East Side to continue their work of home nursing.

1958: Settling in East Harlem

1973: an article in Catholic News described the work of Little Sisters of the Assumption to help families.

By the 1950s, the sisters had moved up to Yorkville, caring for families on the East Side, in Harlem and in the South Bronx.The sisters soon realized that it would be important to focus their work on a specific neighborhood, and after much community consultation, decided on East Harlem. Here, they could continue their work with families and launch important partnerships with East Harlem Interfaith and Mount Sinai’s Department of Community Medicine. In 1958, five Little Sisters of the Assumption — four nurses and a social worker — set up headquarters on East 115th Street, across from the NYC Department of Health.

Soon, the organization grew, adding new staff, students and volunteers and launching new initiatives. Their community organizing work expanded. The agency continued to collaborate with East Harlem Interfaith and began the East Harlem Nurses Association, influencing national legislation on health, welfare and housing policy.

1970: Expansion & Incorporation

LSA Family Health Service at its former location on 119th Street

In 1970, the Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service was established as a non-profit corporation with an independent Board of Directors.

The agency moved to East 119th St. in 1974, taking over a deteriorated brownstone owned by Holy Rosary Parish. Over time, the work started by the nursing sisters expanded in direct response to the needs of the community, eventually developing into the programs and holistic model of delivering services to families that prevails today. For example, when the visiting nurses found that the kitchens of their patients were empty, they started the food pantry. As we responded to the community by adding programs, we grew out of our home, which had come to occupy a patchwork of two brownstones, two storefronts and borrowed school classrooms on and around East 119th St.

2004: A New Home

In 2004, LSA moved to its current home at 333 East 115th Street.

In March 2004, LSA opened our doors to a beautiful new building at 333 East 115th St., uniting our mission and programs together under one roof.  The facilities include office space, a large kitchen, classrooms, a computer lab, a meditation room, and space for the Sharing Place Thrift Store.  The new space allowed for greater programming possibilities and the agency continued to expand in response to community needs.

2018: Life Begins at 60

As our programs expand and evolve to meet community needs, our partners and donors are key to our success.

As LSA prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary, our vision is to respond to community needs with a series of bold new initiatives that address unmet and emerging needs of people in East Harlem and surrounding neighborhoods.  Over the years, innovation in program delivery and research have positioned LSA to be a valuable resource in the field of human services.  As we look to the future, we plan to increase our investment in research and in the development and dissemination of best practices.

We are excited and optimistic about the future, and we hope that you will join us!