The Lower Eastside Girls Club Community Action Fund
Amidst these days of outrage, despair, and exhaustion, we reaffirm our commitment to antiracism and all forms of oppression and passionately declare that Black lives matter. The Lower Eastside Girls Club has fought for racial, gender, and socio-economic justice for 25 years and we won’t stop now. The Girls Club is a parallel family, a lifeline, a place where girls grow physically, mentally, and emotionally, and they need us now more than ever.
We are here today and here to stay- and doing everything in our power to support our community in this time of crisis and trauma. COVID-19 continues to put the health, well-being, and safety of our members at risk - many of whom have lost their safe spaces. Our Community Action Fund has been critical to sustaining our services and seeing us through this ongoing crisis.
Your donation to the Community Action Fund has helped us provide:
Short-term cash infusions for non-food necessities
Homemade masks and cleaning supplies
Produce from local organic farms, and distributing food and takeout meals for families of 4+ (serving over 15,000 neighborhood residents since March)
Quality YA Books, Art supplies and Computers
Online and In-Person mentoring, tutoring, and online resources
A Hybrid Menu of Classes this Summer and Fall that offer virtual and in-person programming options for our girls and their mothers with safety as our top priority. Learn more here.
While we work to support our community's relief effort, we are also working to provide as much care and support directly to our members. So here’s the plan:
Continue Distributing Family Wellness Kits
Food insecurity has long been a challenge here and in recent months we have been witnessing an extreme need in food assistance among our families. The Lower Eastside Girls Club has mobilized to respond directly to this community need. From March 27th to July 27th, our in-house culinary team which is led by mom-chefs in partnership with World Central Kitchen has collectively provided over 27,000 meals to feed our Lower East Side Community utilizing local, organic, farm-fresh ingredients.
In addition to the World Central Kitchen, we have also received support from the Food Bank of New York and Support + Feed, as well as other food industry partners. Local organic produce has been sourced from our neighborhood 6th Street Community Center CSA, Breezy Hill Orchards, and Smallhold mushroom farms. Healthy, hearty, immune-supporting meals are vital to the health and wellbeing of our neighborhood residents. We need your support to keep our food distribution efforts going strong through the fall and winter months ahead. The health of our members, their families, and our community is central to our mission.
After a successful six weeks of summer camp, we are in the middle of our Fall session - running on a hybrid schedule of 40 virtual and in-person programs. We're also offering classes for moms and caregivers! Join us for a relaxing time in the garden, sewing, or making tea and radio! We will continue taking all the precautions to ensure our staff and members are safe and healthy while in the building. Read more about our safety measures here.
Throughout the Spring, amidst the COVID peek within NYC, our staff continued to teach classes virtually and personally connect with girls regularly. This provided a safe social space for our members and to create family supports that promote mental health in these extraordinary times.
Our New Girl City citywide civic leadership program extended into the summer for members and partners to continue developing their leadership skills. Throughout the summer 50 participants from across NYC worked on civic action projects, cultivating their advocacy skills and learning to demand more of our government leaders and institutions. In August the New Girl City took over Girls Club social media to spread critical information, resources, and suggestions in regards to their civic action projects addressing critical current issues such as police reform, food, and housing insecurity, and youth mental health during COVID-19.
We also offered a five-week paid virtual internship program for 30 of our teens that centered self-knowledge as a foundation for exploring career paths and networking with professional women. Tapping into the Girl’s Club network allowed us to give participants direct access to a wide range of dynamic professional women, from those in the midst of their college careers to those decades into their professional lives, in industry-spanning career paths. The program focused on self-esteem, values, priorities, and time management, financial literacy, professional writing, and public speaking and interviewing skills. After laying this initial groundwork, we offered a week of panels based on career fields, including STEM/Tech, Media, Fashion, Art and Design, Social Work, Medicine and Healthcare, Law, Politics, and Organizing.
As we enter the Fall and Winter seasons ahead of us, The Lower Eastside Girls Club will be working hard to keep our community healthy and safe. We will be offering a wide array of virtual health and wellness workshops, fitness dance, dance, and meditation classes for the entire community. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for updates.
Launching our Center for Wellbeing and Happiness
In 2021, we will expand our facility, core mission and service population with our new Center for Wellbeing and Happiness, a 5,000 ft2 space (adjacent to our existing facility) for intergenerational and holistic wellness programming for all community members, at no cost.
The Center for Wellbeing and Happiness (CWBH) strategically addresses the wellbeing and health disparities faced by our community by utilizing intentional, trauma-informed, holistic programming rooted in community-centered resilience, prevention, recovery and self-reliance. The CWBH was established with the understanding that advancing racial and social equity for our community is dependent upon increasing access to quality wellbeing resources and tools.
We are prepared for whatever new reality we’ll be living in. In fact, as the past year drew to a close, we acquired an additional 5000sq. ft. of adjacent commercial real estate on Avenue D to open a new intergenerational Family Center for Wellbeing and Happiness to address the already existing epidemic of non-communicable diseases (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autism, cancer, and a mental health crisis) facing our community. These services will be needed more than ever as our collective community begins the long road to recovery from this current trauma.
Here’s our financial situation:
Click above to review the Financials in our 2019 -2020 Annual Report
We do an amazing amount of work on an incredibly modest annual budget. The dedication and commitment of our staff, many of them local moms, are making it work. As we create new ways to continue to serve and support our members and neighbors, it is imperative that we keep our working ‘family’ together. Our sources of support to date have been diverse (government, individuals, corporations and foundations) and loyal- but we have no idea what the future will bring. We need your support to see the Lower Eastside Girls Club through the year ahead as we navigate through this crisis and come out stronger, having met the needs of our community at a critical juncture for New York City.