Three Steps to Start Shopping for A New Home

May 29, 2014

Ahhh. Summer is in full bloom. The kids are done with school. The trees are finally getting their leaves. The lilac bushes are perfuming the air. And the moving trucks are, well, on the move. In my neighborhood, we have 2 homes right across the street for sale and at least two more within a block in any direction. (I promise – It really is a nice neighborhood!)Image

Let’s be honest. While there are homes available all year long, there are reasons that home buying is so seasonal here in the upper Midwest. Chief among those probably include cold, snow, and ice. But now we are ready to be out and about and shopping for a new home.

My advice? Don’t let the weather be your only factor in finding the right home. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Trafficking in South Dakota

May 29, 2014

It has been estimated that there are 293,000 youth in the United States that are considered at risk of exploitation, abuse and trafficking each year. It is reported that most victims are between the ages of 12-14.

Be Free 58 is a Sioux Falls non-profit dedicated to the abolition of all forms of human bondage, slavery, exploitation and trafficking on the national, state and local level.

Human Trafficking DOES happen in South Dakota. Activity has been seen during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and each fall during hunting season. It happens in Indian Country and also on the streets of Sioux Falls.

In a KELO news story, South Dakota US Attorney Brendan Johnson said, “Human trafficking exists in South Dakota and the only logical discussion we should be having is the best way to end it.”

LSS will host a training at noon on June 12at the Center for Children and Youth (621 E Presentation). An advocate from Be Free 58 will be present information on the topic, including information on the trafficking of children in the Dakotas. For those of us who have the opportunity to influence the life of a child, this will be a helpful training to attend. Please complete the form below to RSVP.

New American Series: Somali Success Story

May 26, 2014

We continue a series on the five largest ethnic groups to be resettled to Sioux Falls in the last five years by the Refugee and Immigration Center (RIC). Upcoming blog posts will focus on the following topics: Conflict History, Cultural Differences, and New American Success Stories. Please join us as we learn together about our new neighbors and their courageous stories.

New American Series: Somalis
Meet Mohamud Abdulle! Part 1

When I got done interviewing Mohamud and was staring at my three pages of notes, my first thought was “How am I ever going to consolidate this into one blog post?” (I couldn’t, so we will have Part 1 and the rest of the story next week as Part 2.) My second thought was “If I write everything that this man was gone through and done, who’s going to believe me?”

When I asked Mohamud about his life in Somalia, he first told me some of his father’s story, a “self-made man” as Mohamud said, who spent most of his career as a military general. His father traveled to southern Somalia when he was in his teens in search of a job and eventually, found himself in Kenya where he lied about his age in order to enlist in the British Imperial Army. According to Mohamud, his father succeeded in the British army and became one of the first Africans to become an officer in this army. When leadership and circumstances changed, Mohamud’s father found himself imprisoned, but escaped and traveled around the world working as a mercenary. Mohamud’s father went back to Somalia in the late 1960s and joined the military of the independent Somali Republic. He rose again in the ranks, but was jailed under the socialist government that came to power in the 1970s. Surprisingly he was released in 1983 and Mohamud was born in 1984. I would find out later that similar honors and prejudices would echo in Mohamud’s own life.

Fleeing the growing violence in Mogadishu, Mohamud’s family moved south, but warfare was everywhere. After losing his father, the family fled to Kenya in 1990 due to the escalating violence and anarchy. While fleeing, Mohamud became separated from his family and suffered a gun shot to his leg.

That was maybe around sunset. When I woke up [having blacked out], it was noon. I walked in no direction. I saw no civilization. I spent many cold nights. I eventually found another convoy where nice lady fed me just like I was one of her children. By this time my leg was infected. I got separated from the convoy and I was eating grass…scavenging. I was walking in circles.

I interjected at this point in his story and asked again how old he was. “Six or seven,” he replied and then shared how after so much walking and seeing no civilization, he made up his mind to end his life.

I decided to find a way to end my life the next morning. It rained that night and I was shivering, but in the morning…I feel I received a sign from God. That night I had been shivering, but I woke up warm. I woke up next to a lion! As I was stepping quietly away because I was terrified to wake him, he woke up and walked in the opposite direction. An hour later I found a settlement. I fainted and woke up in a hut to the smell and sound of my leg being burned to cleanse it of its infection. There was no pain medication.

In Liboi, Kenya, Mohamud found out his family was in a refugee camp near Mombasa, Kenya. He started traveling to them in a truck, but Kenyan police eventually stopped it, and he found himself in a prison program with adult men, where he was forced to work on farms. “Kenyan police saw a Somali as a dollar sign; it was very corrupt.” He worked in this prison program for around two and half months before running to freedom with a large group of men that were attempting to escape.

I got on a bus in Malindi, under a seat in the middle of the bus. Policemen with dogs were checking all the busses and seats. They entered my bus and were one or two seats away from me when a dog found contraband. The bus eventually pulled away and I stayed on until the next town.

Mohamud reached Mombasa where an uncle, who was a doctor and ran a clinic, recognized him and nursed him back to health. Mohamud spent three weeks with his uncle before reuniting with his family. His family eventually traveled to Ethiopia where Mohamud attended a private English school and advanced in English, math, and science.

Check in next week to read about Mohamud’s adventures in the U.S.

Hello Holiday!!!

May 23, 2014

Memorial Day. The official start to Summer 2014. And for once it sounds like it should be a Imagebeautiful weekend (no guarantee in South Dakota). Like so many people, we have plans for the weekend – hang out with my nephew (I guess my sister and brother-in-law too), swim, maybe some hiking or fishing. Who knows?

So what are your plans? Going somewhere? Attending an event? How about some great bbq? So many options for a long weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

LSS Volunteer of the Year

May 22, 2014

Each year, LSS recognizes a distinguished volunteer, a corporate partner, a communityNold Mike partner and a congregational partner in honor of outstanding service and support to LSS during 2013.

Award recipients have touched the lives of many South Dakotans through their partnership with LSS. Mike Nold of Sioux Falls was recognized as the 2013 LSS Distinguished Volunteer of the Year. Read the rest of this entry »

Did You Know in the Last Year…

May 21, 2014

LSS Center for New Americans has:

  • Resettled 141 families consisting of 320 individuals in Sioux Falls; 
  • Assisted 172 secondary migrants (a person who is resettled to a different place in the U.S. and chooses to move here within their first 5 years);
  • Resettled 40 families consisting of 93 individuals in Huron, South Dakota;
  • Provided educational instruction to 1050 adult English language learners;
  • Helped 416 adult English learners receive Citizenship Education classes;


Studying the 3 Branches of the U.S. Government
Studying the 3 Branches of the U.S. Government


  • Worked with a total of 68 employers who assisted with 476 employment placements;
  • Helped 66% of newly arrived refugees become employed in a full-time position within 8 months of their arrival;
  • Assisted a total of 471 individuals with immigration services;
  • Assisted 136 individuals to successfully become citizens of the USA in the last 6 months.

Thank you for supporting LSS Center for New Americans and the work of welcoming!

USucceed teen wins Sioux Falls volunteer award

May 16, 2014

Reannae Tague, a participant in the LSS Mentoring Services USucceed program, is theIMG_8441 Children’s Dental Center & Parkway Orthodontics 2014 Spirit of Volunteerism Award winner in the Youth category. The Spirit of Volunteerism Luncheon is an annual project of the Helpline Center. This event honors volunteers in the Sioux Empire area for the impact they make on the community.

LSS has had the privilege of getting to know Reannae over the past four years. She has continually impressed our staff with her poise and dedication to help others. We were proud to nominate Reannae for this award! Her dedication to service and the impact she makes is felt at many different area nonprofit organizations. Reannae, who attends Roosevelt High School, can be seen serving breakfast at The Banquet before school, and she spends two Sundays each month helping at a local VFW pancake breakfast. She also visits seniors at the Golden Living Center and volunteers at the Children’s Inn helping kids who are hurting. Reannae once said that early in her high school career, she knew she had a chance to either spend her time doing good, or she could spend her time getting in trouble. She chose to make a difference with her time, and currently volunteers more than 20 hours each month.

We are so proud of Reannae and all of our USucceed students! We are sad to see Reannae graduate, but know that she will do well. We will continue to keep up with Reannae and we are especially excited to welcome her as a mentor next fall!

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