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LSA Family Health Service takes
care of its own

The story

Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service (LSA) has a mission to strengthen and empower vulnerable families and children by meeting their basic needs for food, health care, education and a safe home, in the belief that affirming families in their own dignity improves the entire community.

The agency pivoted from in-person services to mostly virtual in 13 days after New York’s pandemic shut-down orders were issued; all of LSA’s services to NYC’s East Harlem community resumed within two weeks.

“The depth of caring that our employees have for this community is overwhelming,” said Reada Edelstein, former chief executive officer. “Nothing substitutes for face-to-face interaction and relationship building with clients. So COVID-19 put LSA on its own “operation warp speed” so we could continue to service the community.” And on the fast track to being named one of Insperity’s Community Heroes honorees, for good reason.

“We became digital with exceptions,” Edelstein said. “We’re a frontline agency, and our staff has such heart, determination, commitment and love for the community. Our food pantry went from feeding 150 families a week to 500, and sometimes 800 or 1,000 families. That was accomplished with an in-person core food pantry staff and a host of really wonderful volunteers.”

LSA nurses continued making home visits. Administrative and developmental staff were in and out regularly. Facility staff were in daily. “We own our building, so we can’t call on a landlord to handle maintenance or repairs,” Edelstein said. “Our thrift shop closed, but reopened part time as soon as New York lifted restrictions on retail. Our staff, as they always do, simply did what needed to be done, even at the risk of their own wellbeing.”

Community impact

Edelstein praises the dedication of LSA employees and volunteers to the people of East Harlem and the mission of LSA. Originally an Italian immigrant community, but always an impoverished one, East Harlem today is primarily Hispanic with a large population of undocumented immigrants. Small mom-and-pop stores line the streets, and poverty and hunger aren’t strangers to these families.

“Many of our staff are residents of the community and clients at one time. No one is making a fortune, and everyone is dealing with financial issues. And not one staff member bailed on us during this pandemic,” Edelstein said.

“They learned how to work from home. They interact with parents in our parent-child development program. They are on the phone with clients in the evenings and on the weekends. They take walks with clients uneasy about coming into our building. Their hearts are in this community, because they are this community. The people we serve are deeply impoverished, yet incredibly resilient.

“The support (from LSA staff and volunteers) offered to clients goes way beyond expectation. They are heroic. How exceptional it is to give this kind of support to others when you yourself are struggling with a similar situation. This agency is such a special place.”

“How exceptional it is to give this kind of support to others when you yourself are struggling with a similar situation.”

Reada Edelstein
Former CEO

What Edelstein values most from Insperity, “aside from their HR knowledge and expertise, is their human touch. We’re an agency whose mission is based on the power of relationships – that’s a philosophical underpinning of LSA.

“Insperity understands the human side behind difficult situations. Their advice has always been how to say difficult things and how to make difficult decisions in the most humane way possible. Insperity is of great value to us and our employees.”