For over sixty-five years, Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center has met the needs of its community members in countless ways. Today, LSNC serves the Lincoln Square community through three programs: a daycare center for our pre-school age children, an afterschool program for our youth, and a comprehensive support program for our seniors. LSNC programs are endlessly evolving to better suit the changing social, educational, recreational, cultural, physical and mental health needs of the individuals and families that rely on the center. The majority of our community members live in proximity to LSNC – long-term residents of the Amsterdam Houses and Amsterdam Addition.
Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center was established as a part of the settlement house movement; originating in the UK, and brought to the US by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Jane Addams, the 19th century movement for social reform has left an indelible mark on New York City. The settlement houses of today dot our neighborhoods, uptown and downtown, east and west – all connected by the common thread of building community. LSNC is a mainstay in the upper west side community that surrounds it. By providing the local residents with a reliable place to meet their individual needs, LSNC fosters a supportive environment in which community members become family. LSNC is housed within the Amsterdam Addition building at 250 West 65th Street, a two-floor space leased from NYCHA. Program participants include those residing on the 25 upper floors of the Amsterdam Addition, as well as the 13 additional buildings that form the Amsterdam Houses in the surrounding area between 61st – 65th Streets.
Our youngest participants at the Center are served through the early education program provided at the Mabel Barrett Fitzgerald Daycare Center. Children aged 24 months to 4 years and 11 months old participate each weekday in educational and culturally sensitive activities, designed and directed by the Daycare Director, Lisandra Lopez, M. Ed. Currently, 69 children are enrolled in our Daycare Center, which is an Early Learn NYC center featuring a Universal Pre-K Curriculum.
Over the course of the past year, a new vision was laid out for the daycare, a framework that would evolve the current programming into a more sophisticated, functioning therapeutic early childhood center that fosters emotional health and growth. Specific attention was directed to the integration of children with developmental challenges and special needs into the educational curriculum. Through instilling confidence in all our children, LSNC aims to foster the requisite skills for success later in life – motivation and the curiosity to keep learning every day. Providing a culturally sensitive environment aids in building this confidence, and encourages the framework for a familiar and safe environment in which children feel the Center is their home away from home. Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center has become a community pillar which families have relied on for decades – an educational place for their children to grow and progress throughout childhood.
Early this summer, LSNC was fortunate to be awarded a four-year Early Learn NYC contract administered by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. The support of this grant is noteworthy at a time when government funding is uncertain and dramatic cutbacks are often announced. Additionally, IBM awarded LSNC with three child-friendly computer workstations, granting the Center opportunity to incorporate computer skills into daily lesson plans.
Our dedicated staff provides a creative and educational program designed to fit the development and individual needs of each child. More than simply a well-defined learning environment to help the children grow, LSNC provides the daycare to families that otherwise may not have childcare options.
Many students in our afterschool program have graduated from our Mabel Barrett Fitzgerald Daycare and have attended LSNC since they were infants. This continuity from daycare to the afterschool program provides a tremendous service for the surrounding community and critical stability and familiarity for children as they grow in their formative years.
Benjamin Knight joined LSNC as our new Afterschool Program Director at an exciting time, taking the helm over the program alongside an engaging team of Group Leaders new to the Center and a revitalized curriculum woven with new partnerships formed in collaboration with nearby organizations and universities.
We have revised our curriculum to create a more unified approach with a focus on four key elements that will provide a more enriching environment and experience for our children: reading, arts, technology, and athletics. This year, our youth will exercise their creativity in music, drama, and the arts; build computer skills; grow academically; and stay healthy. Guest educators will bring variety to our programming, including workshops that will cover topics ranging from the political topics to career paths and entrepreneurship.
With two Group Leaders for each classroom, students in our Afterschool Program receive the attention and focus needed to ensure their involvement in the program is a positive experience for every child. We are fortunate to be surrounded by renowned cultural and educational institutions, and building new partnerships with the Lincoln Square community has been a high priority. With a strong emphasis on art in our new Afterschool Program curriculum, The Art Students League has partnered to bring arts to LSNC. Our youth will have an opportunity to participate in digital art and painting classes taught by artists from The Art Students League. We continue to partner with Fordham University to bring arts, dance, and drama to our Afterschool Program and members from our community will join us at the Center to bring chess lessons to our youth.
The importance of reading will be brought to the classroom through the Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) component of the classwork. “DEARtime” as it is referred to, will include reading time and activities, reinforcing this crucial skill. Community members from our Senior Services Program will join us in the classroom, to read side by side with the students, modeling the behavior and underpinning the significance of reading for all ages. Bringing this module to life, we are partnering with several publishers to bring children’s book authors into the classroom to spend time reading to our students.
Our new partnership with the New York Institute of Technology will revive a key element of the After School Program, laying a foundation that cements the importance of skills now so useful in everyday life. The opportunity to include technology in our program will teach children at a very young age the importance of technology and the multitude of ways that it influences our lives. Their level of awareness will put them at an advantage as they progress along their educational path. Increased time for tutoring in the computer lab has also been added to our curriculum.
We are thrilled to introduce a new component to our program that will emphasize the creativity, commitment, and ingenuity necessary to becoming a successful entrepreneur. At this age, our youth can be easily engaged to brainstorm business ideas – whether that be as simple as a lemonade stand or as ambitious as founding a news publication. Inspired by the voices that matter most, we saw from our own youth ideas springing up and this year we will implement the platform to let those ideas come to life.
Directly in line with this effort, guest speakers from a range of professions will be invited to share their own career paths and experiences with our youth, illuminating the vast opportunities their career path might take them. Throughout the year we hope to bring in many other partners from the community to keep the program inspiring, interesting, and leave an imprint on the lives of the children so that they might graduate from our program with the insight that they are capable and talented enough to venture down any path they choose.
Highlighting the importance of staying healthy and active, athletics remains one of the central components of our Afterschool Program. Students participate in recreational activities, including basketball and other team games in our newly refurbished gym. We continue to partner with Super Soccer Stars, an organization that demonstrates the importance of teamwork and confidence building while playing soccer.
For more than sixty-five years Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center has provided programs like the Afterschool Program for families in need. Providing much more than a safe place for children to stay while their parents work, the Afterschool Program instills the importance of education, the strength of community, and an experience that the children will carry on with them for the rest of their lives. Our staff seeks to create an inspirational setting for each child to see his/her own potential and create a lasting impact on every child’s life. Those who attended the program as children return to the Center as adults to volunteer, speaking volumes of the significance the Afterschool Program had in their own life.
Our Senior Services Program for adults over the age of sixty seeks to help older adults and their families to maintain independence, stability, and social connectedness to their communities. We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a 3.7 year contract from the NYC Department for the Aging to expand services from a strictly Naturally-Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)-based program to a neighborhood-based senior center serving non-NORC clients as well. Our plan for expanded services focuses on continuing to promote healthy aging and creating a center that will integrate health, wellness, and an improved quality of life.
This year, we will be adding a health educator to our program staff to help members set and reach their personal health goals. We are also in process of implementing an electronic telephone messaging service to reach all of the members with automated updates about center and neighborhood events. This telephone messaging system was made possible through a grant awarded by The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.
A reevaluation of the facility space is being undertaken to maximize comfort, aesthetics and age-friendliness. A space planner is scheduled to review the agency’s plan and make recommendations to enhance the appeal and utility of our building. Additionally, we are participating in a Harvard Graduate School of Design project led by an architect and urban planner alongside Harvard graduate students who will recommend and implement a senior-friendly environment. Over the course of the year we will be working with NYCHA to expand the use of outdoor space by installing an awning in the courtyard adjacent to the building to provide shade in warmer months and space where recreation and socialization can take place outdoors. Dr. Mulvihill has begun meeting regularly with senior program participants and several new initiatives have been developed including a gardening program and implementation of more exercise classes. Services are available both on-site and in the homes of clients who are unable to make office visits, provided by our bilingual (Spanish/English) team. The Senior Services Program provides a space for our community members to dine together, stay healthy together, and encourage one another. By providing access to necessary services, LSNC has become an established resource to the senior community that relies upon it.