In Press Play, we talk with leaders from non-profit organizations about their challenges, their experiences working with the community, and their goals. In this edition, we talked with Lissa Southerland, Associate Executive Director for Operations, about Union Settlement’s 27th annual Ethnic Festival.
NYXT: How did you work with the community for this event?
Lissa Southerland: We tried to bring East Harlem vendors in to work during the event, so that they are able to use their businesses and promote their businesses. Union Settlement has been around for almost 125 years, and Union Settlement is really steeped in the community. We provide services for our community and so every year we put on this event as a thank you to tell our community how much we love them and how much we enjoy continuing to give them programs and services.
NYXT: What is Union Settlement’s mission?
LS: Union Settlement is located in the heart of East Harlem and we are definitely here for the community. Our mission states that we work with all community members, from youth to seniors. So we provide programs and services for all of those. Everything from college readiness and working with at risk youth, all the way up to jewellery making and workshops, and working in our senior centers. That is our mission, to serve intergenerational families, participants, and all our services and programs are based from that.
NYXT: What activities can people find at the Ethnic Festival?
LS: The entertainment at Union Settlement is mostly comprised of artists and entertainers from the East Harlem community. At today’s event we have everything from Nicky Jam to the Afro-Latineers, and many more. We have zumba out here to showcase wellness and have our seniors and other participants interacting in our activities. And then we have a lot of different events where we worked with our youth, so that can get up and dance a little bit which is really exciting.
NYXT: How can people connect with Union Settlement?
LS: There are many ways that you can connect with Union Settlement. If you are a community member, we have a variety of classes here in our main building which is on E 104 Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. We have adult education classes, youth services classes, workshops for kids. A lot of different things are going on in our main building. If you are interested in volunteering you can always call our main office, we have tons of volunteering opportunities, not only today at our Ethnic Festival, but throughout the year, we accept volunteers weather you are youth in college or you are a senior. You can stop by anytime and get more information.
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