LSS & MULTI-CULTURAL CENTER Boards Approve Integration

September 22, 2022

The LSS of South Dakota Board of Directors and the Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls (MCC) Board of Directors approved the integration of MCC to LSS this week.

LSS will transition MCC and its programs, assets and goodwill into LSS and will assume management effective October 1. A full transition is expected by year end at which point the MCC organization will dissolve but the work will continue.

The Interim MCC Executive Director Laurie Knutson and the MCC board of directors will continue to govern the organization through the transition as needed.

“The MCC leadership believes that LSS’s mission aligns with and supports the MCC mission. Programs and services will thrive with the added stability and leadership offered by the LSS organization,” says Knutson. “We believe a new synergy will develop with bringing our valued people and financial resources together—allowing us to serve our constituents and community more effectively.”

LSS President/CEO Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen agrees. “The mission for LSS and the MCC have great synergy. LSS is excited to have an opportunity to provide administrative and leadership support of MCC to propel the work into the future. There will be more exciting developments to come!”

Leadership from both organizations believe that aligning efforts will result in better outcomes for the diverse communities of Sioux Falls. Removing the duplication of administrative functions creates an operational efficiency and a programming synergy to better respond to client and community needs.

“The transition of the MCC into LSS also aligns with the LSS vision statement that All South Dakotans will be healthy, safe and accepted,” continues Kiesow-Knudsen. “We are all committed to making Sioux Falls and South Dakota a welcoming community for individuals and families of all backgrounds.”

Organizational Strengths

For more than 100 years, LSS has been transforming the lives of individuals of all ages, families of all kinds and diverse communities of all sizes across the state. LSS impacts the lives of thousands of people each year through a variety of services including Behavioral Health, Center for Financial Resources, Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling, Foster Care, Residential Services for Children and Youth, Childcare and Education, and Mentoring among others. LSS is committed to being responsive to the changing needs within our communities.

The work done through the LSS Center for New Americans has developed solid relationships with several ethnic communities and provides robust support for many who are settling in our community.

LSS brings strong administrative services to provide operational efficiencies including human resources, information technology, accounting, grant writing, fundraising and executive leadership. This solid administrative support offers long-term functionality and stability to the MCC programs and services.

Continued Efforts

LSS will continue the work of the MCC serving various immigrant populations and working with Native American populations to celebrate cultural diversity within the Sioux Falls community. The partnerships with the City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County will strengthen, and its focus on community engagement will continue to offer opportunities to build on community interests around cultural diversity. Events like the Festival of Cultures will continue to bring people together in education and celebration.

South Dakota CARES: Together We Can

May 9, 2022


Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen
President/CEO, LSS

Greetings! As I reflect on our rich tradition of service and prepare for the next century of service, one thing stands out—resilience.

The resilience of our communities, donors, staff, volunteers, and business and church partners is astounding. I am humbled and honored to have witnessed the power and strength in the collective as communities across our state came together to support vital services over these last few years.

Thank you for showing us that even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, you continue to believe in and support the mission of LSS.

You have been a critical piece in our history of providing transformative services and you continue to play a vital role in our ability to deliver on our promise to care for, support and strengthen individuals, families and communities across South Dakota.

The coming year is looking bright in many ways, and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with you. Together, we can do so much more than any one of us can do on our own.

Be a part of making history with us once again! Join us this May 11 and 12 for our biggest fundraising event yet!

Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen


Not only do we recognize the deep passion our donors, church partners, volunteers, neighbors and community members have for our social ministry, LSS also holds values that reflect the South Dakota CARES name.

As such, we believe that God’s love compels us to serve and value all people. Our faith in God grounds our core values, they guide our hands and feet, our hearts and words as we serve our neighbors as God intended. South Dakota CARES is based on our core values guiding our work with the people we serve, those who serve them and those who contribute to our mission.

Learn more about all the matches and challenges at If you have questions or want to learn more, contact the LSS Philanthropy team. Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors for helping to make South Dakota Cares Day of Giving happen.

South Dakota Cares: Matches & Challenges

May 2, 2022


Not only will there be exciting matches and challenges within programs and regions, but thanks to our loyal supporter, DeMaris Nesheim, EVERY SINGLE GIFT will be MATCHED up to $100,000! Those dollars will be invested in an endowment for the future of LSS programs.

An essential part of South Dakota CARES is the match and challenge opportunities provided by some of our most loyal supporters. Your dollar will make more of an impact during the South Dakota CARES event!

Every service at LSS is critical to meeting the needs of communities across South Dakota. However, we cannot do this work alone—your support is crucial as we work together to support our neighbors, friends and communities in need.

Gifts of all sizes, to any one of our services, are greatly needed and appreciated! In addition, South Dakota CARES will feature matching opportunities and giving challenges to support current areas of greatest need, including:

• Mental health counseling through Behavioral Health Services
Adoption Services
• Increased professional development opportunities for LSS staff through the Professional Development Fund
• Services specific to meet the needs of people in western South Dakota
• Services specific to meet the needs of people in northeastern South Dakota
• Services specific to meet the needs of people and communities in southeastern South Dakota

Learn more about all the matches and challenges at

If you have questions or want to learn more, contact the LSS Philanthropy team.

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors for helping to make South Dakota Cares Giving Day happen.

Mental Health Counseling through LSS Behavioral Health Services

April 25, 2022

LSS Behavioral Health Services provides mental health counseling for children, adults, or families who may be struggling with family and relationship conflict, depression, grief, loss, anger, anxiety, abuse, substance use, posttraumatic stress disorder or domestic violence.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing. The need for mental health counseling looks different for every person.

Examples of clients served through the LSS Behavioral Health Services include:

• A teen, who has been the victim of sexual assault, receiving outpatient counseling sessions to learn ways to cope with his trauma and begin to trust again
• A couple, who has trouble communicating, seeking marital counseling sessions to strengthen their marriage
• A woman, mourning the death of her husband, attending counseling sessions to cope with her grief and manage the changing responsibilities of her daily life
• A child, struggling with anxiety, attending counseling sessions to improve her ability to succeed in school

Committed to ensuring that cost is not a barrier for clients to access much-needed mental health care, LSS is one of the only providers in the state to offer a sliding fee scale based on income. More than 85% of clients seeking mental health counseling at LSS qualify for the sliding fee scale. Your support can ensure our ability to continue offering these services at an affordable price.

Earmark your spring donation today for LSS Behavioral Health Services.


When Amanda started counseling services, she was experiencing a lot of intense anxiety over a job loss. She felt like she didn’t have any direction in her life, and was experiencing frequent panic attacks. She started seeing a therapist at LSS and learned some coping skills to help with anxiety.

Amanda began to see how she could improve herself and committed to improving her situation. She worked on empowering herself and taking control of her life.

Because Amanda got the help she needed, she is now a successful local business owner and uses
the coping skills learned to deal with the daily stresses that come with life and owning a business.

Learn more about the South Dakota Cares Behavioral Health Services Fund.
Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors for helping to make South Dakota Cares Giving Day happen.

Lifelong Support Through LSS Adoption Services

April 18, 2022

For birth parents facing an unintended pregnancy and for adoptive parents wanting to grow their family, LSS provides essential information and compassionate support. Support services are a critical step in the process as they equip adoptive and birth parents with the information needed to make the best decision for their families.

Your gift to LSS Adoption Services Fund ensures vital support is available for those who need it. Donations in support of LSS Adoption Services help keep birthparent counseling and informational meetings free and adoption workshops affordable for clients seeking support services.

Consider a gift to LSS Adoption Services so that LSS can continue to walk alongside birth and adoptive parents every step of the way—during pregnancy, throughout the planning process and anytime thereafter.


“Our family got its start at LSS 38 years ago—and we are forever grateful. We attended adoption workshops and had the support of our adoption specialist at the time—every step of the way.

Through all interactions with the LSS Adoption Services staff, one thing was constant—support. That support was critical for us so that we could become the parents we wanted to be.” –David and Jan Johnson

Learn more about the South Dakota Cares Adoption Services Fund.

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors for helping to make South Dakota Cares Giving Day happen.

Hope Springs Eternal

April 12, 2022

From the window view of my desk, I can see the Big Sioux River thawing. Already I have seen more joggers and bikers frequenting the river walk, and I myself have enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather.

Additionally, the great Canadian geese will soon be joined by Mallards, wood ducks, and American coots. They will walk and swim, side by side, caring for their young and finding food among the grass and within the river’s depths.

It goes without saying that spring is definitely the season of hope…hope for prosperity, perseverance, rebirth, new beginnings. And as our mild winter comes to an end, we find our classrooms are changing. New students are arriving, fresh from war-torn countries or long-term refugee camps. They are filled with hope and determination to make this new community, new city, new country theirs. They seek to learn about their new culture, to make friendships, to survive in this new world.

We here at Center for New Americans continue to hope and strive for a better world for our clients. Case workers scramble to find homes and jobs, greet new arrivals at the airport, help families enroll children in schools. The teachers painstakingly plan lessons, work with the students so that they can learn English at an accelerated pace. Everyone works together. Everyone works hard. Everyone looks toward the future with hope and anticipation. Hope is our mantra.

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Cutting Edge Care Through the Professional Development Fund

April 11, 2022

The number one priority at LSS is responding to the changing needs of communities across South Dakota. Volunteers, staff and donors come together every day to ensure services are accessible to all in need, regardless of age, faith, race and economic status.

As a result, LSS is committed to ensuring all staff members are provided opportunities for growth and development, leading to improved client outcomes, and a positive and caring culture.

Supporting the Professional Development Fund allows LSS to offer specialized training, leadership development and tuition assistance opportunities to essential staff members on a broader scale. In addition, professional development opportunities can help retain and educate current employees as well as recruit new employees.

Your partnership in our professional development efforts ensures that LSS staff will continue to be on the cutting edge of new evidence-based practices that are proven to be successful, ultimately changing the trajectory of the lives of those we serve.


“When Abby started counseling, she was not attending school regularly because of the anxiety she had each morning. When she did go, Abby experienced panic attacks,” said Diana Mueller, Clinical Therapist, LSS Behavioral Health Services.

“After receiving EMDR training, I began to see success with clients, so we worked through some exercises together. Through these EMDR techniques, Abby learned more about herself and discovered what memories created anxiety.”

Within the first session, Abby reported feeling much better, more hopeful, and more confident. Abby also learned calming strategies to change her reactions and gain personal control.

“Her anxiety is dramatically improved. Because of its effectiveness, I use EMDR with at least 75% of the clients I see. With nearly all the clients using EMDR, it is reported that they feel calmer and more empowered in their lives. It has been such an effective method!”

Learn more about the South Dakota Cares Professional Development Fund.

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors for helping to make South Dakota Cares Giving Day happen.

Mark Your Calendar for Our Inaugural Day of Giving

April 4, 2022

In May 1921, an open house and donation day marked the opening of the House of Mercy, the first service offered at Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota.

The morning after the House of Mercy opened, the first applicants for admission appeared—an elderly woman and a seven-year-old girl who needed a home. While they were not the expected clients, the House of Mercy warmly welcomed them and offered shelter and support for as long as necessary.

Soon, the pregnant girls for whom the home was intended began to arrive. By the end of its first year, the House of Mercy cared for 23 unmarried mothers and three married mothers. Twelve children were placed in adoptive homes and 11 remained with their parents.

This May 11 and 12, we continue the tradition and vision with South Dakota CARES, a statewide, online and in-person event designed to bring all South Dakotans together to support critical LSS services statewide. Together, we can make a tremendous impact in the lives of South Dakotans in need—individuals of all ages and faiths, families of all kinds and communities of all sizes.

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors for helping to make this happen.

The First LSS Giving Day, May 11-12

March 30, 2022

South Dakota CARES is a statewide opportunity for everyone in South Dakota to join together online or in-person to heighten awareness and support critical services at LSS.

On May 16, 1921, an open house and donation day marked the opening of the House of Mercy, the first LSS service location. The morning after the House of Mercy opened, the first applicants for admission appeared—an elderly woman and a seven-year-old girl who needed a home. While they were not the expected clients, they were warmly welcomed. By the end of its first year, the House of Mercy had cared for 23 single mothers, three married mothers, 12 children who were placed in adoptive homes, and 11 children who returned to their parents.

Over the last 100 years, LSS has evolved to provide care throughout South Dakota with many unique services. In recognition of this humble beginning and the impact of these critical programs and services developed throughout LSS history, South Dakota CARES will take place on May 11-12.

Join us for South Dakota CARES, a celebration and a call to action to help provide critical resources and shape the lives of current and future generations of South Dakotans just as we did on that day in May 1921!

Strengthening Teachers Across the State

March 29, 2022

This past month LSS Center for New Americans was host to teachers from across the state and from Sioux Falls as they worked on professional development.  The English Language Instructor Development Program (ELIDP) training yields the English as a Second Language Instructor Credential for the State of South Dakota.  This program is funded through the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. 

This professional development has three phases. 

Phase I:  Participants have 26 hours of face-to-face training during which they discuss topics such as language acquisition, cultural and communication dynamics in the classroom, refugee resettlement, and working with adult English language learners, among others.  During this phase, participants also have hands on experience in the ESL classrooms at the Center for New Americans, working closely with one of the knowledgeable instructors in their classrooms, receiving coaching in both teaching and lesson planning. 

Phase II:  After reflecting on teaching practices and researching best practices, participants implement Action Research in their own classrooms. 

Phase III:  Participants present their Action Research at the annual Summer Summit Conference each July. 

Upon completion of all 3 phases, participants are eligible for state credentialing.

I was able to interview Sarah Jones, one of our newest instructors at the Center for New Americans.  Here is what she had to say about her experience ELIDP.

What was your best takeaway from IDP?

My best takeaway from IDP was the feedback I received while working with my mentor. The simple strategies and techniques we discussed and practiced are ideal for creating a more student-centered learning environment.

How do you think IDP will help you in the classroom?

I think the various strategies and learning activities we discussed both in our group sessions and in the individual discussions with my mentor will help in my classroom. These discussions provided several ideas for increasing student engagement, and their implementation will result in more opportunities for students practice what they are learning.

How do you think the experience of meeting other ESL teachers from across the state could be beneficial?

I think meeting and collaborating with teachers from other programs is always beneficial, as it provides the opportunity to learn what strategies other teachers have found to be helpful in their classrooms and brainstorm ways to implement those strategies in your own classroom.

Are you excited to plan and implement your Action Research?  How do you predict your Action Research affecting your classroom?

I look forward to planning and implementing my Action Research, and I predict that the implementation of more research-based strategies will positively impact student learning and success.

As a former participant in the ELIDP myself and a mentor, this program is a great way meet new teachers, refresh on proven strategies, and improve teaching skills.  So thank you very much South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation for providing this great opportunity!

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

%d bloggers like this: