Community Partners Help LSSNY Spread Holiday Cheer!

LSSNY Social Workers recently helped our President & CEO, Damyn Kelly, sort through a generous donation of toys for our children in our programs. These toy donations from our community partners ensure that children in our programs will have a happy and memorable Christmas this year! A special thank you to our friends at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies!

Luis, Formerly Homeless, Celebrates First Christmas in his Own Home

After being homeless for far too long, Luis was able to secure housing and a stable job through the programs and services provided by Lutheran Social Services of New York.

Luis is beyond grateful that this Christmas he’ll be able to celebrate in his own place, with gainful employment, surrounded by good people who care about him and are making this a Christmas to remember.

“I’m looking forward to seeing family and spending time with them in Brooklyn, “ Luis stated.

Luis is just one of hundreds of success stories to come from our Residential Services program.

Residential Services helps low income families and marginalized people who can be susceptible to homelessness, people with mental illness or a history of addiction and substance abuse. Our programs work with these individuals to help them to live independently. Our safe and affordable housing is coupled with counseling, job training, money management coaching, and activities that foster responsibility and independence—supportive housing that works!

LSSNY Welcomes Three New Board Members

We are excited to introduce you to our three new board members: Chris Brown, Twila Evanson and Darrel Upson. Each brings special talents and expertise that are sure to enrich our board and help us gain new heights as we usher in 2018!

Chris Brown is a seasoned fundraiser who currently serves as the Director of Development & Alumni Relations for the Martin Luther School in Maspeth, NY. He is experienced in cultivating new relationships and building partnerships with community leaders. Mr. Brown also has experience in corporate finance, and will bring his combined skills in education administration and finance to inform the important work of the board in the months ahead.

Twila Evanson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who currently works at the Lutheran Counseling Center of New York (Mineola, NY). She provides psychotherapy services to children, adolescents, adults and couples, and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Policies at Concordia College — Bronxville. Ms. Evanson will work with the board to support the agency as it continues to fulfill its mission to strengthen lives, families and communities through the provision of quality, human services to those in need.

Darrel Upson is a Managing Partner at Hudson Peak Wealth Advisors, one of the nation’s top planning practices at Ameriprise Financial. Westchester Magazine has awarded him their Five Star Wealth Manager Award every year since 2009. He dedicates his time to several charities, including Phelps Memorial Hospital and Life’s WORC. Darrel’s experience in financial planning will make him a strong asset to the board’s mission in supporting and enhancing LSSNY’s programming.

Welcome to our new board members—we thank you for your willingness to give of yourselves to help fulfill LSSNY’s ministry for all those who need our help and support!

Early LIFE’s Sherri Dais:
A Positive Force for Children and Parents in the Community

Taking care of and educating children has been an essential part of Sherri Dais’ life since she was a young child. Her mother worked as a provider/care worker for Sheltering Arms Day Care, and as an impressionable 8-year-old, Sherri would observe her mother caring for children ages 2 months – 3 years in their home. “I think my interest in education started to grow then, and seeing my mom work with these kids got me interested in education,” said Sherri. She is now the Site Director of LSSNY’s Early LIFE childhood education center on Park Avenue in Manhattan and oversees four classrooms that serve children ages 2-5 years, in addition to managing a staff of 13. “What I like about being a Site Director is that I get to work hands-on with my teaching staff. We work together to explore different ways to develop lesson plans to help meet the school readiness goals for our children,” said Sherri.

Sherri has worked for LSSNY for the last five years, starting as Head Teacher, then progressing to Educational Coordinator and finally Site Director. Prior to coming to LSSNY, she worked for 26 years as a preschool teacher, and has a total of more than 31 years of experience in early childhood education. Sherri quickly became an important part of the Park Avenue teaching team, and in June 2017, she was promoted to Site Director. The executive team and parent who interviewed her for the Site Director position recognized her growth and dedication and thought she would excel in the position. Sherri has deep ties to the community of parents and children around the Park Avenue site. She lived in the community for 40 years, and has ties to parents, local businesses and other neighborhood educational institutions. Some of the children Sherri taught at the beginning of her career are now working as teachers within the Early LIFE program, and many members of the larger Harlem community know Sherri well.

Just like the children and parents she serves, Sherri strives to enrich her own life, and her love of learning. “My strength is in my wanting to know and wanting to do better. I look for courses and resources that will make me a better person to help those I work with. It keeps me motivated,” says Sherri, who progressed up the educational ladder with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree (in early childhood), a master’s degree (in elementary education) and a second bachelor’s degree in business/health service administration.

Sherri values education and uses it as a tool to help her students—and to educate their parents. “A lot of parents in our program are young parents, 20-21 years old. They sometimes think that preschool is the same as elementary school. We have to take the time to educate them about the skills that preschoolers must develop first, so we help parents with transitioning their children to school, understanding the curriculum and providing them with workshops,” Sherri said. In November, for example, the Center hosted a workshop on the importance of play skills.

When asked what new projects she’d like to bring to the Center, Sherri says she hopes to create a resource library for parents and teachers, giving parents the opportunity to borrow books to read to their kids, or access materials that support their education and career aspirations by keeping them informed about programs and workshops available to them in the community. Sherri isn’t one to sit around and wait for things to happen—she will do what’s needed to make these plans a reality because that’s what she’s always done as an educator, an administrator, a community resource and a caring partner to the many parents and children she serves!

Our Night of Reflection Celebration Caps Off the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in Style

On November 16, 2017, we closed our year-long celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with our Night of Reflection event. Board members, donors, staff, community partners and clients joined us as we celebrated the Reformation at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York. Rev. Dr. John Nunes, the President of Concordia College of New York was our guest speaker for the night, and he gave a stirring tribute to the ideals associated with Martin Luther and the Reformation, including the idea of reimagining a new and renewed future.