LSSNY Hosts a Volunteer Recognition Luncheon for the “Angels” at The New LIFE Center—Long Island Food Pantry 

On Wednesday, September 13th, LSSNY hosted a luncheon for volunteers at The New LIFE Center—Long Island (TNLC), our food pantry in Uniondale, Long Island. TNLC, a client choice food pantry, received more than 120,000 pounds of food in 2016 and served more than 14,000 individuals, families, children and seniors in Nassau County. Some 45 congregations lend their time and resources to the food pantry, providing donations and volunteers to help it achieve its mission.

On September 13th, we celebrated our volunteers for their service, compassion and collective support at a special luncheon. Hylkije Halili, TNLC’s Coordinator, welcomed some 40 volunteers to the luncheon. With gratitude and emotion, she thanked them for their years of support to her and the food pantry. Volunteers serve in many different ways; some pick up donations of food from local supermarkets and community partners such as Island Harvest, some shelve foods and help clients choose nutritious items, while others plan and staff food drives at local supermarkets to collect food donations from the community.

Joan Fuerch, a volunteer since 2008, joined Hylkije in thanking all the volunteers, including those she called “outside angels.” These are volunteers who spend most of their time outside the food pantry, contributing hard work and hours to pick up food from local donors and supermarket sites. “When they come to deliver food to the pantry, they come with a smile on their faces. They always bring us something we need,” she said. “We thank you all—all the volunteers and all our outside angels!”

George Kirchmann, a volunteer representative, said he was grateful to God for bringing him to TNLC. After he retired, he needed a place to work, and happened to come to the food pantry. George collects donated food from Island Harvest, shelves food at the pantry and helps pack bags for clients. “We all help people out in any way we can.” We are not solving the problem of poverty, but we are helping to heal the wounds. We should be proud of the work we all do.”

Cecilia Aranzamendez, LSSNY’s Executive Director of Community Services and Damyn Kelly, CEO & President, thanked the volunteers. “It’s because of you that LSSNY can do what it does…families are being assisted out of a sense of love and caring,” said Damyn.

The volunteers enjoyed lunch and dessert, and each volunteer received a fleece vest and mug. The day was a reminder that no organization can achieve its mission without the participation of “outside angels.” We thank all our volunteers, congregations, local businesses and nonprofit organizations for their ongoing support of TNLC.

Spotlight on LSNYA’s Clinical Pastoral Education Program:
Helping People in Crisis through Spiritual Care

Knowing that through this training (clinical pastoral education) and with new skills, my students will touch many lives and sit with the suffering, I am honored to be a part of it.” -Rev. Silvia Misina, ACPE Educator, LSNYA

We recently sat down with Rev. Silvia Misina, a Lutheran Pastor and ACPE [Association for Clinical Pastoral Education] Educator about the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Center at Lutheran Services New York Alliance (LSNYA). LSNYA, a long-time partner of LSSNY, provides interfaith professional education in clinical pastoral care to guide clergy, seminarians and lay people who are interested in working with people in crisis to provide one-on-one spiritual care. Here’s what Rev. Misina had to say about the scope and contribution of this important program.

What are the goals of the CPE program?
“Clinical Pastoral Education is designed for clergy, seminarians and lay people who are interested in working with people in crisis—those dealing with terminal illness, the loss of a loved one, natural disasters or family crisis. We equip students with the skills and techniques to help them become active listeners who can respond to peoples’ stories from an emotional and spiritual point of view. We teach our students to build their own self-awareness skills so they can focus on helping people with their suffering without any interference from their own personal issues or biases.”

How are pastoral students referred to you?
“Most of our applicants are Master of Divinity students and graduates, and many of them have to complete one unit of CPE for credit for the seminary or as required by their ordination process. Some students are ordained clergy who want to do continuing education, and we also have lay people who want to gain skills so they can volunteer in their home congregations (visiting shut-in church members, for example). Many local seminaries refer students to our program, including the New York Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the United Lutheran Seminary and Yale Divinity School.”

Which faiths are represented among your students?
“Having our CPE program in NYC provides an amazing opportunity to serve students from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. In addition to students coming from across the United States, we’ve had students from about every island in the Caribbean, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Ghana, Nigeria, Serbia, Moldova, Lebanon and the Ivory Coast. Their religious and denominational backgrounds are rich too: Buddhism, Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, Humanism and Christians of all kinds, including Lutheran, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Methodist and Reformed. This diversity creates an amazing learning opportunity on so many levels—theological, cultural and social.”

How long is the program?
“Each unit of CPE is 400 hours: 300 clinical hours of experience (visiting patients, leading spirituality groups, etc.) and 100 educational hours. I typically work with groups of 4-8 students over a 10-week period, but we also have a 16-week and a 30-week program. At the end, students receive a certificate and are eligible for board certification.”

What types of residency/internship opportunities are available to students?
“Students can do a residency or internship at one of our six permanent clinical sites, which include LSSNY, NYU Lutheran Medical Center and Seafarers International House. Students also have the option to choose clinical placements at external sites such as in nursing homes, social agencies, and congregations.”

Some of your CPE students have completed internships at LSSNY’s housing program. Can you tell us more about their work?
“The Muhlenberg Residence (one of LSSNY’s supportive housing sites in Brooklyn, NY) has provided a very special opportunity for chaplains to do ministry. When you are helping someone in their home, it is not a temporary situation for them; this is not a temporary crisis—this is their life and their home. It takes a longer time to connect with residents and earn their trust, so chaplains visit them to provide one-on-one pastoral/spiritual care. They listen to peoples’ stories and run spirituality and/or Bible study groups. For someone who was previously homeless and is now living in permanent housing, support like this is very valuable. The program offers residents a chance to connect with a spiritual advisor on a meaningful level.”

What are people most surprised to learn about your program and your work?
“People are most surprised by the geographic reach of our programs and the diversity of our students. Because people come to our program from all around the United States, and the world, we have a great learning environment. Some people are surprised by the deep emotional connection that I develop with my students as we progress through the program. I love it, and I continue to be amazed and honored by this work. I learn from my students, and am challenged theologically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually by them.”

Lutheran Services New York Alliance (LSNYA) is a consortium of nine social service agencies related to the Lutheran church, serving the greater Metropolitan New York area. LSSNY is proud to be a partner of LSNYA. You can read more about the CPE program and LSNYA here: http://lsnya.org/cpe/.

Volunteers from the Infant Layette Program Bring Joy to New Mothers

Becoming a mother is a life-changing event that brings joy and love into a family’s life. But for mothers living in poverty, that joy can be overcome by stress and anxiety about how to meet the needs of a new baby. Diapers, clothing, personal care items and formula are expensive, and having enough on hand, when you are already struggling to put food on the table, can be a challenge.

To meet the need of food-insecure new mothers, The New LIFE Center—Long Island (TNLC), LSSNY’s food pantry, created a special infant layette program for Long Island residents. When a new mother has her baby, she can come to the food pantry to pick up an Infant Layette package containing clothing (in sizes from birth to 2T), diapers, personal care items and formula. In 2016, 135 layettes were distributed.

The food pantry, which relies on donations from local churches, businesses and the community, has a team of volunteers that helps solicit, organize and distribute the donated diapers, clothing and infant care items given to the new mothers. That’s where Diane Kelly comes in. She is a woman on a mission. A retired principal from Floral Park Memorial High School, Diane has taken on the responsibility of coordinating the baby shower events and the distribution of the layette items to new mothers.

Diane and all the volunteers who work at TNLC were honored on September 13th at a recent volunteer appreciation luncheon. At the event, Diane talked about her visits to local churches and organizations to explain the Infant Layette Program and get congregations and the local community engaged with the project. Many of the local churches, including the 45 Lutheran churches that support TNLC, host baby showers to collect donations of clothing and personal care items for inclusion in the layette packages. Between April and May of this year, Diane says there was an increase in the number of showers hosted, with churches and organizations holding approximately 15 events. Local organizations, including AARP, the New Hyde Park North Lions Club, the Zonta Club of Long Island (professional women’s organization) and other local women’s clubs were among the organizations that hosted showers.

The Infant Layette Program continues to be enriched by its community of volunteers, churches and organizations, who transform lives by giving women in need the opportunity to experience a positive pathway to motherhood.

Foster Parents Night Out: A Celebration in Honor of Their Loving Care

Founded in 1886, LSSNY was originally conceived as an orphanage. Ever since, the agency has provided foster care and family support services to families in crisis across New York. As one of the oldest, longstanding providers of such care, LSSNY has developed a comprehensive Children’s Services Division, providing foster care, kinship foster care, adoption, maternity/mother-child support services and preventive family services to at-risk families. Children’s Services would not be able to provide safe, loving homes for children in need without the care of foster parents. By parenting a child, they bestow the greatest gift that any one person can give to another—the gift of unconditional love.

To celebrate our foster parents, Children’s Services hosts an annual Foster Parents Night Out, in which we give them a chance to shine in recognition of all they do to make children’s lives better. The adults-only event is one way in which we can say thank you to parents who sponsor a child. On September 23rd, Executive Director of Children’s Services, Antonnette Taylor, and Director of Support Services, Margaret Johnson, hosted the celebration.

Guests enjoyed cocktails, dinner and dancing. “We want to make sure that our foster parents get a chance to feel special and appreciated on this night. This is for them, and it’s our way of saying thank you for all they do for the children we serve,” said Antonnette.

Grand Opening: Marcus Garvey Playground

Join us on October 12th at 4pm as LSSNY’s Early LIFE program unveils the grand opening of a new playground at the Marcus Garvey early childhood education center in Brooklyn. The playground, located at 265 Marcus Garvey Blvd., will help children get fit and healthy while having fun! We are excited and can’t wait for children at the site to start playing on the new jungle gym equipment. Fall’s the perfect time for kids to enjoy the fresh air, health benefits and joy of movement!

We hope to see you at the ribbon cutting ceremony on October 12th!

Upcoming News:

Cecilia Aranzamendez, Lutheran Social Services of New York’s Executive Director of Community Services, talked to New York Nonprofit Media about President Trump’s recent decision to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. LSSNY’s Immigration Legal Program has seen a large uptick of immigrant families seeking legal consultations and support services. Read the article: http://bit.ly/2yjRuWn.