Sibling Perspectives on Adoption

August 13, 2018

I have had the honor of working in the field of adoption for 17 years.  Ok, that makes me feel old!  Anyway, I have learned so much and feel the best teachers are adoptive families, birth families, and adoptees.  One family has shared a poem with me that was written by their daughter. It is written from the sibling of the adoptee, sharing her experience as her parents were in the process of adopting her little sister. Read the rest of this entry »

Cardiac and Hernia in the Same Week

August 6, 2018

That’s right, it was Cardiac and Hernia in the same week…. and I LOVED IT!  camp1No, it wasn’t health issues, although it certainly could have led there were I not in at least the middling shape that I am.  No, Cardiac and Hernia are two particular hiking trails at our local Boy Scout Camp.  Covering about ¼ mile distance, they also cover 200 feet of elevation change.  And my son and I covered it up to 4 times a day as a part of the Webelos Camp that we attended together.

Have you looked at the cost of attending camp lately?  For the two of us to attend a three-night camp was $170 plus time off, gas to get there and back, meals along the way, and of course ice cream after one particularly brutal day of activity.  Perhaps that cost is where the cardiac and hernia come in.  But the frugal person (miser) that I am, I don’t feel bad at all about the cost of the camp.  It all comes down to opportunity cost. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Stacy and Emma

August 3, 2018

Stacy Walters and Emma have been meeting for nearly two years through the LSS Stacy and EmmaUSucceed Mentoring Program. Emma has enjoyed her time in the program and gave one of the best student quotes about what a mentor means: “Having a mentor is good because I don’t always want to talk to someone about issues and it’s easier to talk to Stacy. Friends can judge, but a mentor can talk.”

Stacy, who has mentored a few different students through LSS, pours into the students she has the opportunity to get to know. “There needs to be as many adults around teenagers as we can get,” said Stacy. “They are trying to figure out who they are, so it’s good to have as many adults for support as possible.”

Stacy still stays in touch with a student that she mentored through LSS, and is currently helping this student plan her wedding! Stacy said that her role in the wedding is the “Bonus Mother of the Bride” and she has enjoyed being part of the process.

While it is fun to continue to be part of a mentoring relationship beyond high school graduation, Stacy sees the value of the program and wants to continue to impact young people. She enjoys participating in the LSS USucceed program, which allows for meetings outside of school (this program is only open to students in high school). Her and Emma usually get together to eat, hang out and talk. “It is a great program and I hope a lot more people choose to mentor,” said Stacy. “The structure makes it easier and a great way to get used to each other.”

If you are interested in mentoring, please visit here for more information.

To Give or Not To Give, That Is The Question

July 23, 2018

I have a problem.  It’s nothing new.  It’s been that way for a long, long time.  It definitely impacts my life daily.  At first glance, most would only see it as a definite positive.  But it does create some fallout as well.  And now, it appears that it may not entirely be my fault.  It may be, at least in part, due to my surroundings and what I have been exposed to.  You see, my problem is that I have a very hard time saying “No”.

And I’ll follow that with “But it’s not my fault!”  Or…… at least…… maybe not entirely my fault. Read the rest of this entry »

Mount Rushmore Ceremony Brings Hope to Sioux Falls Refugees

July 20, 2018

Mount Rushmore, June 14, 2018, a majestic view for a remarkable day

Flag Day, June 14, 2018, was a joyous occasion for many refugees and immigrants from South Dakota. The day itself was beautiful, sunshiny, and a wonderful welcome for the 168 new citizens who participated in the naturalization ceremony at Mount Rushmore.


New Citizens of the United States take the Oath of Allegiance during their Naturalization Ceremony

Forty-one countries were represented at the ceremony, including American Samoa, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, India, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

Presiding over the ceremony, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken, expressed, “What you have done by choosing to become citizens is to enrich and strengthen all of us. And now we are one. Welcome home.”


Prithi and Ninga Tamang at Naturalization Ceremony

Several students of the Center for New Americans, among them were students Prithi and Ninga Tamang, from Bhutan, their son, and daughter-in-law. After becoming a citizen, Ninga says, “I love America and everything about here! Being American citizen gives us hope of bright future and life long satisfaction. Because once we were refugee and lost hope of better life but now everything seems all right and happier than before. I got opportunity to see different country, people and experience their beautiful culture. My children have excellent life here.”  During the ceremony, their son expressed his appreciation, “I am a refugee, and actually I never had citizenship.  This is my first time.  I’m very proud.  Thank you America!”


A very happy student Ty Nguon poses in front of Mount Rushmore with his citizenship certificate

LSS Citizenship Instructor John Haraldson commented, “It gives them hope because they feel like they are a part of the country they are living in. They feel like they are safe and more connected to America. For some students, it is their first time ever having citizenship anywhere. It is very special for them.”


Presentation of the Colors at the 2018 Mount Rushmore Naturalization Ceremony

Also among the new citizens was former LSS instructor, Kristin Kuchenbecker. After the ceremony, she commented that it was a “great day for all 168 of us. All people sworn in today had remarkable stories.” Like many new Americans, she says that her reasons for becoming a United States citizen was multi-fold, but she is definitely looking forward to participating in our democracy instead of only talking about it. Kristin says, “There is no place like [the United States] in terms of diversity and that should be celebrated daily!”


Magistrate Judge Wollman, Kristin Kuckenbecker, and Chief Judge Viken


As we celebrate freedom this month, we are happy to welcome all our new citizens and hope for a great future for them!

Written by Heather Glidewell, LSS ESL and Citizenship Instructor

Better Together Match: Michelle and Nancy

July 19, 2018

Michelle and Nancy have been matched for a little over a year in the LSS Better Together e2af2a9d-49b5-4598-b006-c27731639fe3program. Both are relatively familiar with the Sioux Falls area, but are newcomers. Michelle has been living in the Sioux Falls area for about two years. She moved here, with her family, from Madison, SD. Nancy moved back to Sioux Falls two years ago from Arizona. Prior to living in Arizona, she was living in Sioux Falls.

Both Nancy and Michelle wanted someone to spend time with when they joined Better Together. One day at coffee, Nancy was complaining about being bored, so one of her neighbors suggested she join Better Together. Michelle decided to volunteer in Better Together because her parents and grandparents are no longer around and she was really missing that type of relationship.

Together, Nancy and Michelle have attended LSS Bingo, shopped for groceries and have attended some medical appointments. However, their favorite activities are simply visiting with one another and working through a Bible study. Nancy and Michelle discovered they both had interest in the Bible so they decided to embark on an audio Bible study which focuses on the book of Colossians. They are 20 weeks in and have eight CDs left!

Nancy enjoys Better Together because it helps break up her week but more importantly, she has grown to cherish the friendship she and Michelle have developed. Because Nancy and Michelle have been through similar life experiences, Michelle really values their weekly visits. Both have come to count on their time together and look forward to continue meeting this summer.

If you are interested in volunteering with Better Together, please apply today! There are older adults in the Sioux Falls area who are waiting for someone like you.

Post by Amy Feterl, LSS Better Together Coordinator

On Death & Taxes (mostly property taxes)

July 17, 2018

Uncle SamDeath and taxes – the only two things that are guaranteed in life.  Or so the saying goes.  I’m no expert on what happens around the world, but I do keep a bit of awareness on how it works here in the good old US of A.  Did you know that if your home gets foreclosed, tax debt jumps to the front of the line to get paid from the sheriff’s sale?  Did you know that most tax debt won’t go away in bankruptcy?

If you live within the boundaries of the Sioux Falls School district, did you know they just approved a property tax increase for the next budget year?  It went up an astonishing .011 mil for non-agricultural owner-occupied property!  Can you believe it?!?  .011 MIL!!!!

Wait.  What’s a mil?  No, it’s not a million.  Or even a mill, like where you grind grain into flour. Read the rest of this entry »

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