What it takes to be a citizen!

August 25, 2016

Early on Saturday mornings, something special takes place at the Center for New Americans. As soon as the doors open, about 100 adult students show up, eager, happy, and ready to work.  There are always lots of smiles and laughter, but the students come for some very serious work. saturday citizenship class

All of these students are refugees and immigrants who have lived in the United States for the past year or more, and now they want the opportunity to become citizens of this country where they have felt welcomed and secure, raised their families, paid taxes, and grown to love. These super dedicated students take time out of their lives, their work schedules, their families, to come and learn about U.S. history, U.S. civics, and U.S. geography.  Students learn how to read and write English and build confidence in their listening and speaking skills. They faithfully come to Citizenship class every weekend, because they all share the hope and dream of becoming a citizen themselves…some day!

What does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?

The U.S. naturalization process is an expensive and difficult process. Candidates for naturalization need to undergo and pass an intensive interview in English.

Candidates must then undergo an oral examination on US history and government where they must listen to and correctly answer six out ten questions that are randomly chosen out of 100 possible civics, history, and geography questions. Would you pass? The USCIS has an online practice test: https://my.uscis.gov/prep/test/civics

Finally candidates are required to demonstrate their English reading and writing ability. Candidates must pass all three exams before being recommended for citizenship (naturalization).

Want to be a citizenship classroom volunteer?

Contact Kristyne.Walth@lsssd.org.

Need free citizenship classes?

Call 731-2000 to schedule an enrollment appointment for the next class session.

Want help filling out the “citizenship application” or N-400?

Call 731-2000 to schedule an appointment with an immigration attorney for a reduced or free rates.

Want to know more about the process of becoming a citizen?

Visit the USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/ for details.

Written by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor

Top Ten Reasons to Mentor

August 23, 2016

LSS Mentors are Everyday Heroes for more than 1,200 area young people. But with hundreds of kids on the waiting list, that’s not enough for every student that needs one. Spend one hour with one student once a week and you will experience the power of mentoring! Here are ten reasons to get started this school year.

10. The Need. Just like we said above, there are hundreds of kids waiting. And we know you can’t mentor 100, but you CAN mentor one. All area schools would welcome a new mentor, but a few that are especially in need are Edison, Hawthorne, Terry Redlin, Lowell, Horace Mann, Cleveland, Memorial, Axtell Park, Oscar Howe…the list goes on.

9. Personal Growth. Almost every mentor has said they have learned something new by mentoring. Whether it is learning about Pokemon or learning about the impact of poverty, mentors say they come away a better person.

8. Teach a Child New Things. In addition to learning things for yourself, you have the opportunity to teach a child. Mentors have taught kids how to shoot a basket, how to tie their shoes, helped with reading instruction, table manners, problem solving skills, how to be a good friend, organizational skills and more. These are skills that students take with them the rest of their life, and you were there to help.

7. It is FUN! Yes, mentoring is an investment of time and heart, but it can be fun! On your way back to work, you will catch yourself giggling at something your student said or did. Mentoring can provide the perfect break in your workday too. Who doesn’t want to play kickball or just take a break to color once a week?

6. Connect with Today’s Youth. Don’t have a negative attitude about “kid’s today” if you don’t know any! Yes, they make mistakes (just like we did when we were young). Yes, they have a lot of screens and technology to occupy their time. But there are some things that have changed. Heather from LSS Childcare recently wrote that today’s kids are more inclusive than ever and love to serve.

5. Get Involved in Your Community. South Dakotans are active in giving back to their communities. The most recent data shows that 34.1% of adults in our state volunteer, ranking 9th in the nation. Comparatively, we are doing well but there are still more people who don’t volunteer than do. Many who mentor are also active volunteers in other capacities. We would love for students to see their mentors reflect the community as a whole – not just the 34% who volunteer.

4. Meet a New Friend. When students who have a mentor are asked what it’s like to be part of the program, they just say that their mentor is just an older friend. That’s all it is.

3. Help a Student Improve Their Self-Esteem. 78% of mentors saw a noticeable positive change in their students self-esteem and confidence. In other words, an overwhelming majority feel better about themselves because they know someone cares enough to mentor them.

2. Gain New Perspective. One thing we can almost guarantee is that your student is walking a different path than you did as a child. Or even one that you helped lay out for your own children. Instead of judging or feeling pity for someone who is different, use mentoring as an opportunity to learn more about their life.

1. Potential to Change A Life…A Young Persons and Your Own. Really, is there anything better?

Don’t wait! Apply today!

“My parents are my parents and that’s it.” – Simone Biles

August 22, 2016

Whenever the topic of adoption is brought to the attention of the media as it was last week during the Olympics, we feel it is a good time to talk about adoption terminology, and the negative effects using the wrong words can have on adoptees. Read the rest of this entry »

Exuberant and Curious

August 18, 2016

Brigita, a 5th grader at Harrisburg Liberty Elementary describes her mentor Gabe as “fun and creative.” And within minutes of meeting them, it is easy to see that creativity is what this match is all about! Paper quilling, zentangles, origami, paper marbling and researching opals are just a few things they have done together.

Gabe, who has mentored six years, got her start after attending a Mentor Try-It session. She had just moved to Harrisburg and wanted to do something to give back to her community. “I enjoy the time each week,” said Gabe. “I work in education and like working with kids. Mentoring is a fun way to do both.”

Brigita says that Gabe is “just an older friend.” She also says, “mentoring is something different to do. Sometimes recess can be boring.”

Gabe described Brigita as “exuberant and curious” and feels like she has a great student to meet with each week. “It’s great that we have similar interests but are still able to introduce each other to new things.”

Do you want to meet a sweet girl like Brigita this year? Sign up to be a mentor here.

Doing Good on the Green

August 17, 2016

LSS Watertown Golf Tournament 2016 – Thank You!

Our 6th Annual LSS Watertown Golf Tournament and Dinner event held Monday, August 1, 2016, was a success with 80 golfers participating. Hosting this event required help from so many, and we are grateful to them all. We want to extend a special Thank You and Recognition of Commitment to Dale McElhany, David Johnson, Levi Pearson and all the staff at Reliabank. Their vision and commitment to serving the people in Watertown and area communities as well as LSS is commendable. We especially thank the sponsors below for their generous contributions.

Hole Sponsors
Dennis & Shirley Larson
Clark County Chapter of Thrivent Financial
First Premier Bank
Prairie Lakes Healthcare System
Sharp Automotive
Diamond Realty
Great Western Bank
First Bank & Trust
Aason Engineering
KWAT Radio
KXLG Radio
Macksteel Warehouse
Citi-Wide Property Management

Team Sponsors
Dennis & Shirley Larson
Diamond Realty
First Premier Bank
Great Western Bank
KWAT Radio
KXLG Radio
Larry’s Lumber
Malchows Home Furnishings
Olsen Striptill
Roy’s Sport Shop
Sharp Automotive
Clark County Chapter of Thrivent Financial

Award Sponsors
KWAT Radio
Anytime Fitness
Bramble Park Zoo
Caribou Coffee
Cattail Crossing Golf Course
Dagwood’s Deli & Sub Shop
Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel
Days Inn
Dempsey’s Brewery Pub & Restaurant
Dorales Footwear & Fashions
Dutch Boy Car Wash
Expressions Gallery/Knit Nook
Five Loaves Bakery
Gas N Goodies, Inc.
Glacial Lakes Harley-Davidson
Hampton Inn & Suites Watertown
Hedahls Auto Plus
Kampeska Lodge & Store
Lunkers Restaurant
Lutheran Social Services
Mahowald’s Hardware & Rental
Mainstream Boutique
Mr. T’s Sports Bar & Grill
Oscar Nails & Spa
Pizza Ranch
Proud Angler Bait Shop
Riddle’s Jewelry
Rue 21
Senor Max’s
Slumberland Furniture
The Watertown Event Center
Willy’s Sports Bar, Grille & Casino
Woody’s Sports Bar


Liesl Hovel, Northeast Regional Director
LSS Development & Foundation

Go Yotes! Meet A USD Mentor

August 11, 2016

Back in May, LSS asked mentors where they went to college. We found out that there are over 50 University of South Dakota alums who make a difference through mentoring! We talked with one to get his perspective on mentoring and its importance.

Kent Hartsuiker became a mentor not too long after graduating. He was a new employee at First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard and took the leap and has not looked back. Why did he get involved? His answer is simple and true, “Kids are our future,” said Kent. “We can all look back and recognize the mentors we had in our own lives and the difference they made for us.”

Kent has invested in mentoring for the long term and has been through many stages of development with his mentee, who will be a junior in high school this fall. “When we started eight year ago, he was learning how to read and now he is learning how to drive. It’s unbelievable to look back and see all the changes.”

In addition to mentoring, Kent serves on the LSS Foundation Board, is active in various leadership roles at his church, delivers Meals on Wheels and has volunteered with Special Olympics. He enjoys being part of making Sioux Falls even better by being an active volunteer, but especially enjoys mentoring because it has such a big impact on one person. “LSS has statistics that show mentoring improves grades, behavior and so many good things that come from mentoring. I have seen that with my student.”

And since his student is in high school, Kent says they have talked about the future and college. “He wants to go,” said Kent. “He now has a passion for learning, which has come a long way since we started. He knows the importance of a college education.” And while he’s not going to push him into one direction, they have definitely talked about USD and the great foundation it gave Kent.

Scary Numbers

August 10, 2016
  • Between the years 1976 and 2002 the prevalence of overweight among children doubled from 7% to 16%.
  • 38% of high school students watch an average of three hours of TV each day.
  • The average American watches about 4 hours of TV each day.
  • There is only a 1 in 12 chance that an American parent requires a child to do homework before watching TV.
  • Only 2% of children eat a diet that is consistent with federal nutrition recommendations.

Those are some scary statistics.  Some may or may not apply to you, but none the less, the University of California Extension, Glenn County specifically reports these as “startling Statistics”.  They certainly aren’t good and you don’t have to look far to find someone speaking out and rallying people to fight the statistics. Read the rest of this entry »


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