New Alternatives Building Improvement Project Reveal + THANKS!

December 2, 2016

What started as a simple conversation at the New Alternatives open house turned into a full-fledged building improvement project with multiple Rapid City businesses lending support.

In May of 2016, Sheila Johnson, Program Director, and staff at the New Alternatives Intensive Independent Living Center hosted an open house to introduce the community to this new service offered by LSS.  When asked by visitors what LSS needed to help the program succeed, Sheila shared that, while generous donations were received to remodel the interior, the exterior of the building still needed some updating. One of the visitors, Farmers Insurance Agent Randy Horsley, offered to help Sheila find donors and volunteers in order to replace the building’s siding.

While working with Randy on potential donations, Sheila contacted Gene Wittkowski of Collin’s Siding for an estimate on materials.  Gene and Sheila worked through several options before agreeing that Gene would offer the siding at a lower price if LSS could commit to paying for a portion of the project.

With that news in hand, Sheila and Jessica Lillebo, Regional Director for Development and Foundation, started seeking donations toward LSS’ share of the cost.  They soon learned, however, that additional donors would not be necessary – Collin’s Siding had decided to donate the entire cost of the project!

Along with Collin’s Siding, two local businesses stepped up to provide additional resources.  Kieffer Sanitation donated the use of a dumpster bin and Summit Signs donated a large sign to recognize the community project. Thank you to Randy Horsley, Gene Wittkowski, Farmers Insurance, Collin’s Siding, Kieffer Sanitation and Summit Signs for your support!

AND, no story on an improvement project would be complete without a good before and after. Take a look at the difference below! I love the little porch they built at the door…so much more welcoming!

img_2125 img_2694

Meet the Match: Tim & Tyler

December 1, 2016

For the past four years, Tim Allex and Tyler have been hanging out and having a great time at RF tim-and-tylerPettigrew Elementary. When they first started meeting, they spent a lot of time playing board games and playing outside. These days they do a lot more talking. As Tim put it, they try to solve the world’s problems in their 45 minutes together each week.

“Mentoring is a nice way to step outside the craziness of life. It is a break in my workday and a highlight of the week. I want to keep doing this until he graduates high school,” says Tim. “I have had the opportunity to develop a friendship with someone I wouldn’t have otherwise met.”

One thing Tim knows he has provided for Tyler is consistency. Looking back, Tim believes he has only missed two times in their four years together. The result of that dedication is a level of trust and ease in their relationship that stands out.

Tyler, a 5th grader this year, is happy to have a mentor. “Mentoring is a good idea,” said Tyler. “It’s fun and helps kids.” While he admits he was nervous when he first met with his mentor, Tyler looks back on the past four years and has many fond memories. They have built a snow fort, played Mancala and spent most of the time on their hands and knees searching for dropped marbles, played Battleship with boats that moved with the tide of the sea and more.

They are looking forward to spending time together next year when Tyler enters middle school…and beyond. “I look forward to seeing Tyler get through high school. I think he’s going to change the world in some way in his future,” said Tim.

7 Checks to Make Your Home Ready for Winter

November 30, 2016


After a beautiful fall, I thinks it’s safe to say that winter might actually be here now, even if not officially.  While it was little more than a week ago that I was working outside in just a t-shirt, now my wife simply can’t get warm inside, under a blanket, with a hoodie on (she’s naturally cold, I’m not that cheap with the thermostat).  While I happen to enjoy most of winter, there are a few things that could really ruin it.  Conversely, there a few things that can make it a lot more bearable as well.

While winter is what we get to deal with for living here, there are a few ways that you can make sure your home is ready for winter.  Even if you rent rather than own your home, you can still take care of most of these items and discuss the rest with your landlord.  In short, do it now before you hit a crisis or it’s simply too cold to take care of. Read the rest of this entry »

LSS Receives Prestigious Award from the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and Aberdeen Development Foundation

November 23, 2016

The Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce recognized the work LSS does in Aberdeen by presenting it with the “ABBY Health and Wellness Award”.  The Health and Wellness Award is presented to either a business or organization which demonstrates exceptional performance in providing healthcare services to the Aberdeen community or otherwise internally encourages the health and wellness of its employees through company programs.

The ABBY Award program is hosted by the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and is sponsored by the Aberdeen Development Corporation.  The awards are designed to salute and enhance the image of the Aberdeen business community by recognizing outstanding business performance, excellent business practices, and local customer satisfaction.

Nominees are submitted and are judged by a panel of national Chamber and Economic Development professionals.

LSS in the Aberdeen area is proud to receive the recognition that the ABBY brings to the agency as we continue to care for, support and strengthen individuals, families and communities in the Aberdeen area.

Liesl Hovel, Northeast Regional Director
LSS Development & Foundation


Pictured Left to Right: Gail Ochs, President, Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce; Heidie Holmstrom, LSS Clinical Therapist; Liesl Hovel, LSS Northeast Regional Director; Michael Bockorny, CEO, Aberdeen Development Corporation; and Patricia Johnson, LSS Counseling Services, Clinical Supervisor.



THANKS + A Kid’s Thanksgiving Idea

November 22, 2016

Who doesn’t love an acrostic poem? For those of you who don’t remember what that is, it is when the first indexletter of each line spells out a word or phrase. This is a great activity for kid’s and will get them writing in a fun way! We wanted to show our THANKS in this fun way this year!

The most dedicated staff

Hundreds of volunteers

Amazing funding, school, corporate and nonprofit partners

Nice offices, facilities and equipment that allow us to do our work

Kind words spoken to kids and older adults who need them

Students that love their mentors!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving In Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Where History Repeats Itself

November 17, 2016

Every morning when I come to work and open the doors to the Center for New Americans it’s like stepping into another world, or better into many other worlds. There is constant chatter in many different languages, people coming, people going, people waiting, children laughing and children crying. All of them will be experiencing an American holiday next week – Thanksgiving – some of them for the very first time. When I moved to this country many years ago I didn’t know anything about Thanksgiving, except that this was the day when the American people gave thanks. So I decided to find out what my clients, co-workers and friends were thankful for, and how they say it in their languages. It was a lot of fun to have my students teach me the words for ‘thank you’ and my attempts at pronouncing them were met with much laughter and encouragement. Let me share with you what I learned, but please excuse the spelling errors of which I am sure there are many. Thank you means thank you, no matter how you say it

Danke – Ci lɔcdä tɛɛth – Aftata kite – Dyakuyu – Galatoma – Shukran –Tinate –Azuo –  

Tebui– Ameseginalehu –Dhanyebad – Yekenyeley – Spasiba –Xiexie –Dankie –

Gracias –   Asante – Merci – Grazie – Hvala ti – Dank je –  Mahadsanid –   Yin ca leec

And what exactly is everyone thankful for? They are appreciative of the daily things – their home and their family and their children, being in good health, having a job and stability in their lives, never going hungry again. Many clients are thankful for their teachers and all the assistance they get from our staff. One Eastern European woman used her on-line dictionary so she could tell me what she is so thankful for: Life. She is just so happy that her family is here, together and alive. I got teary eyed when she was talking. Her gratitude is shared by many who are thankful for God saving their lives and bringing them to America where He is taking good care of them. A few years ago, an African woman explained to me that yes, we pray several times a day and go to church often. But back in Africa, we experienced such terrible suffering every day that we needed something to hold on to, to give us hope and strength to get out of there alive.


One East African man explained it from a historical perspective. He was thankful that America is such a peaceful and welcoming nation. Many hundred years ago, the Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims who were persecuted and feared for their lives in their home countries. Hundreds of years later, America is still welcoming those who have fear in their eyes but hope in their hearts. But aren’t you also thankful for your home and your job, I asked. Oh yes, he said, but that couldn’t be if America wouldn’t still open her doors and welcome us.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”


Written by Silke Hansen, ESL Instructor

Thanking Our Corporate Partners

November 16, 2016

On our Facebook page, LSS Mentoring is posting things that we are thankful for this month. One thing that we would like to lift up today are the corporate partners that funnel volunteers into mentoring. There are a number of area businesses that allow mentoring to be part of their culture – they know that employees can make a difference by this volunteer effort and are willing to promote ways to get involved within their workplace.

One such place is Wells Fargo. LSS currently has 50 Wells Fargo employees who are mentoring in area schools each week. Collectively, this group has put in thousands of hours mentoring youth in our community. When the workplace promotes and encourages employee engagement in their community, it leads to obvious benefits for area nonprofits like LSS, but also internally. Research shows that employers who volunteer are more productive at work and are more likely to stay at their job.

At Wells Fargo, mentoring is promoted by distributing posters to all of their locations, they regularly hold volunteer fairs where LSS and other nonprofits can have a booth at their locations during work hours, and list volunteer options on their internal website.

Wells Fargo employees who are allowed to mentor say that mentoring allows them to have a different sense of responsibility and accomplishment. It truly improves overall moral in doing such good for someone else.

If your business is interested in learning more about how you can get employees to volunteer to mentor, please contact us today!

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