New Direct Relief Program: Filling the Food Gap

“You are all doing exactly what the title of your organization says that you are doing.
You are: “Artists Striving to End Poverty.”
– Judy Juster, Clinical Coordinator/After School Program Director at Abraham House

We are excited to share the news that ASTEP has started a food distribution program, Filling the Food Gap, in partnership with the Red Hook Container Terminal and the NYCEDC. This program provides direct service, food distribution, to one of our partners Abraham House located in the South Bronx.

Over the past month, donations of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, poultry, and meat have been delivered to support the students that we serve, as well as their families and the greater community. Many people who received food were excited by the quality of the food, as well as the fresh poultry and beef, as the majority of donations have been canned goods. With this program, we have been able to provide 3 deliveries of fresh food to over 1,800 people!

Check out this NY Daily News article that features Mike Stamatis, the owner of the container terminal, and the impact these donations have had.

To help us to continue supporting the needs of the communities we serve during this difficult time, please consider a donation to ASTEP’s Arts Resilience Fund.

Charitybuzz Online Auction Benefitting ASTEP: Bid Now!

Visit our Charitybuzz online auction to bid on once-in-a-lifetime virtual experiences and autographed memorabilia.

Items up for auction include:

  • A personalized video message from Tina Fey, Sierra Boggess, Sabrina Carpenter, and more
  • Meet Jessica Vosk and Mary-Mitchell Campbell in a 30 Minute Video Call
  • Sing a duet with Erika Henningsen
  • 1 Hour Musical Theatre Coaching Session with Alexander Gemignani
  • …and more!

Click here to learn more

 

 

 

How to Help Our Partners During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are grateful to partner with social service organizations that serve communities throughout New York, the US, and around the world. During this global health crisis, we have been in close conversation with our partners, and have compiled a list of ways to help. Each partner serves a unique population, which means they each have unique needs. Here are some ways you can support our partners at this time:

Incarnation Children’s Center (New York, NY)
Buy an item off their Amazon Wishlist
Make a Donation

WIN (New York, NY)
Buy an item off their Amazon Wishlists, arranged by site

Abraham House (New York, NY)
Our partner, Abraham House, is in need of:
-Fresh produce + meat
-Food for their pantry
-Donations for cell phone service so families can stay connected to their social workers
Email info@asteponline.org for more info.

Safe Horizon (New York, NY)
Safe Horizon is sharing resources related to COVID-19 and domestic violence.

Lutheran Social Services of New York (New York, NY)
LSS is taking this time to celebrate the unsung heroes of their staff on social media.

Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project (Bangalore, India)
Contribute to SB’s COVID-19 Sustainability Fund.

This is a living post and we will continue to update it as we receive new information from our partners. We are grateful to team up with organizations that are so thoughtful in the ways they serve their communities, and we will continue to help in any way we can. We are in this together!

 

Remote Lesson Planning: ASTEP Style!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

These days, in an ever-changing world, we need to be adaptable and creative. Luckily, we are an organization of ARTISTS!

Last week, we collaborated with one of our New York City-based partner organizations as they prepared to dive into the new world of remote learning. This particular partner serves children who have recently arrived at the US border without an adult family member and who are awaiting resettlement, and all of our programming with them is in Spanish. Together, we created a plan to integrate the arts into their remote learning model through a series of “homework packets”. Thanks to our amazing Volunteer Teaching Artists, we were able to put together packets focused on storytelling, movement, creative writing, poetry, and visual arts in just a matter of hours.

Find out what our Volunteer Teaching Artists had to say about the experience:

“Last week I had been talking to a friend about how I wished there was something I could do for those kids, and the universe answered with Lizzy’s text! It was a crazy moment of serendipity. We talked through what she was doing, and I was blown away by ASTEP’s efforts in making this homework pack come true. I went through a few ideas on the phone based on classes I have taught before, and we came up with one in a manner of minutes. I typed it out, and sent it along! My heart really goes out to these kids who are already experience so much turmoil, and uncertainty. Just glad I was able to help in some small way!” -Susanna Stahlmann, Volunteer Teaching Artist

“Last Wednesday afternoon, I received a call with an excited Lizzy on the other line. In usual Lizzy fashion, she had an idea, and sprung into action. She contacted me and others, and shared her idea: a virtual class, complete with worksheets and multi-level learning, to assist our partner organization as they navigate distance-learning with both the younger and older students. We brainstormed the best ways to provide materials, and I chose to take the advice of Lizzy and create a virtual Yoga/Movement lesson, by way of storytelling about the environment and the outdoors (something that at the time I didn’t realize how much I would want connection with). I excitedly searched Google for black-and-white coloring pictures of people in specific yoga poses. I came up with an outline for a story we could tell with our bodies, and questions to ask to dig deeper for each part of the story. As the 4pm deadline drew near, I realized that with my focus on the younger class, I hadn’t dug into a reflection portion of the class for the older individuals. Lizzy was collecting a variety of worksheets and lessons from many different people and needed to send it off to our partner, and so I collected myself and practiced what I was putting on the page. I reflected, I breathed in (“Inhala”), I breathed out (“Exhala”), and thought of what questions I was asking myself. With GoogleTranslate pulled up to check spelling of Spanish translations and a list of Sanskrit words in another tab, and with a gentle reminder from Lizzy about the time, the worksheet was complete, save an upside-down exclamation point or two. I didn’t know what anyone else was doing, but submitted and hoped our partner would be able to feel supported through this time. Minutes later, I received an email with all of the lesson plans that were made in those few hours, and I was amazed. There were hand-drawn diagrams, and many, many pages of activities, ranging from coloring and creating to writing and reflecting, and with all of them, a feeling of fun and play and art. I was amazed. I am amazed. I knew our group of teaching artists at ASTEP was top-notch, and this continued to prove what I already knew: when we work together and share, even during difficult times, beautiful things can blossom.” -Will Thomason, Program Facilitator + Volunteer Teaching Artist

Click here and here to see some of the worksheets!

 

Special Update

In response to the ongoing health crisis, all currently running ASTEP programs have been suspended until April 20, 2020. We will continue monitoring, communicating with partners, and adjusting the schedule accordingly. We are taking this time to provide additional professional development webinars for our network of Volunteer Teaching Artists, so that we can put our best foot forward when we are able to resume programming. Thank you for being an important part of the ASTEP family, and for your ongoing support and dedication to the communities we serve.

– Your friends at ASTEP

 

 

Getting to Know Our New Programs Manager, Monique Letamendi!

Please join us in extending a very warm welcome to our new Programs Manager, Monique “Mo” Letamendi! We are thrilled to have Mo as Part of the ASTEP family!

Learn more about Mo in the interview below:

Where did you grow up? 
I was born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Brooklyn is so much of me and so important to me, because it really molded me into the person I am today. 

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team?
I have been in the teaching artist realm for a while now, but before I started at ASTEP, I was (and continue to be!) a contracted Program Director with viBe Theater Experience, facilitating workshops with high school girls creating original, full-length albums and plays. 
 
Have you been onsite with any ASTEP programs? Which ones?
I have been to a couple of sites with ASTEP, but BY FAR my favorite has been with the youth at ICC as well as our WIN site in Flatbush. 
 
Did you have a background in the arts or teaching, when you started?
Before starting at ASTEP, I had been teaching with viBe Theater for about 6 years, and was a mentor/counselor/advocate for youth since I was 19 years old. It started with advocating and creating events for youth with Make The Road in Bushwick, mentoring youth affected by homelessness with Sankofa Empowerment and teaching poetry to fellow colleagues in college for groceries. 
 
What is the most challenging part of your work?
The most challenging part of my job is learning how to manage my time efficiently, as well as getting used to the newness of my position. With being on the field so often, this is very different from what I’m used to, but I am finding it exciting to explore and learn all these new things!
 
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is connecting with the volunteers and the youth we serve. Nothing brings me more joy than being at our sites, and just learning from our youth, or watching a volunteer really lean on their expertise and experiences. I think the beauty of what we do is in those moments where you can visibly see someone stretch a new muscle, or try something new and actually enjoy what they discover and come back again…it’s a fulfilling experience to be able to delegate and contribute to that process. 
 
What do you look forward to, each day, working at ASTEP?
Being in the office with folks that are as passionate about this work as I am! I am so impressed and inspired by how much work we all do and offer to be sure who we are serving and our volunteers are getting the best that we can give. 
 
What song best encapsulates your working personality? 
I think that the song that encapsulates my working personality is ELECTRIC LADY, by Janelle Monae! It is energetic, cheerful, funky, grounding and empowering! I think that this song motivates me to be the best Electric Lady I can be and lift others around me up to be that as well!

Urgent Update: These people could be anywhere in your community!

 

BREAKING NEWS: In the past year, ASTEP was responsible for arts programming for almost 4,000 students around the world, taught by over 200 Volunteer Teaching Artists. As we approach 2020, help us spread this powerful influenza to more children than ever before.

Give to ASTEP today.

 

 

Warning: Arts education is spreading across the globe!

 

BREAKING NEWS: Over 4,000 students have been affected by ASTEP’s arts programming in the last year. This means that children are gaining the tools they need to shape their own futures.

We’ve caught the bug- help us spread it by donating today.