Middle School Rules: One School Counselor’s Whimsical Observations

October 30, 2014

Please help us welcome guest blogger Tobin Bakkedahl! Tobin is a School Counselor at Whittier Middle School, SD School Counseling Association Past-President and Self-Proclaimed Lover of Middle School Level Education. He works with LSS Mentoring and is a great advocate for all of his students. Whether you are mentoring a middle schooler, have one in your house or can look back at your own middle school experience, take a moment to read this post!

The land of middle school is a fun, exciting and often traumatic time of human development. The following is a short list of whimsical observations and tips that might just help you understand (or remember) what it is like. 

Lighten up…
While working in a middle school you often have the choice to laugh or cry in regards to the ridiculousness happening around you. Read the rest of this entry »


Twice as Nice

October 29, 2014

Twice as Nice picWe were fortunate to have a youth group from West Nidaros Lutheran Church of Crooks come not once but twice this summer to perform service projects for LSS Childcare & Education Services at Southern Hills United Methodist Church. The group was led by Jessi Rakness, Director of Youth and Family Ministry for West Nidaros. Along with some deep cleaning and landscaping, they carried the new, and very heavy, railroad ties for installation around the playground area. Read the rest of this entry »


Halloween-like Traditions Around the World

October 27, 2014

It’s that time of year. The air is crisp, leaves are falling and the days are getting longer. Soon kids (and all the kids-at-heart) will dress up and the air will be filled with shouts of “trick-or-treat!” Still others will stay indoors watching scary movies, pretending not to be scared of the dark. Yep, it’s Halloween. But do many of you know how Halloween began? While there are many influences on the mondern celebration of Halloween, most agree that the basis for the holidy is a blend of Celtic and Christian traditions. The practice of jack-o-lanterns comes from the Celts, as they would carve turnips into lanterns to help guide departed souls. Trick-or-treating began as Christian children would go door to door collecting bread in exchange for prayers for loved ones. After looking into the history of Halloween, I wondered if other cultures had similar celebrations, so I asked my co-workers to tell me about some of their homeland traditions.

A Pumpkin display for Halloween (Photo from Wikipedia)

A Pumpkin display for Halloween (Photo from Wikipedia)

Hailing from Croatia, Lilly Jasarovic told me that recently more Croatians are celebrating the modern Halloween with costumes and trick-or-treating. But she also told me of the festival Maškare which is celebrated right before Lent. During this festival, people dress up in costumes and celebrate with big masquerade parties, parades and bonfires. Children are often given small doughnut-like pastries called fritule, as gifts by adults.

Bowl of Fritule

Bowl of Fritule (Photo from Wikipedia)

In Ethiopia, they celebrate the festival of Buhé (pronounced boo-hay). Ahmed Abogn let me know that Buhé, sometimes refered to as Ethiopia’s Halloween, is celebrated in August near the end of the rainy season. On the night of Buhé, young boys will go door to door singing and dancing, asking for small gifts, like bread or (nowadays) money. Families will also light bonfires and gather around to celebrate.

Kaylan Dahal, a Bhutanese-Nepali caseworker, spoke about the traditions of Diwali. The festival is a Hindu festival, also known as the Festival of Lights. During this time families decorate their homes with flowers and it is a time to share food and blessings with each other. A tradition during the festival is for groups will go door to door singing songs or blessings and they are rewarded with small gifts. Kaylan tells me that in the refugee camps, you could visit nearly 100 homes because they were so close together.

A Nepalese Temple lit up for Diwali (Photo by Dhilung Kirat)

A Nepalese Temple lit up for Diwali (Photo by Dhilung Kirat)

Caseworker Law Reh spoke of the Karenni Deeku festival. Named for the leaf-wrapped sticky rice that is cooked during this time, the festival is held with large group dances around sacred poles. Sometimes people will wear masks during the celebrations. They also go door to door sharing gifts with one another. Families will also make sculptures (Law described them similar to scarecrows) that will be placed in front of homes to protect from evil spirits. This festival can take a week to celebrate and is a time to look forward into the next year as fortunes can be told during this time.

Learning about all the different ways and reasons my coworkers celebrate was really great! I got to hear about their homes and traditions as well as share some tidbits about Halloween too. If this kind of history interested you, I hope you can take some time to learn more about the different traditions in the world because, as this blog showed me, despite the many differences, we are more similar than we sometimes think.

 

Kristyne Walth, Volunteer Coordinator, LSS Center for New Americans


Refugees, Ribbon-cutting, and Keloland: What’s Going on Downtown

October 23, 2014

On Monday, October 20th, at 4:30 the lobby at the LSS Center for New Americans was packed. Representatives from local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, LSS leadership staff, board members, employees, and clients crammed together in celebration of the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility at 114 S. Main Ave. The large turnout reflected Sioux Falls’ support for the growing diversity within the community.  

Betty Oldenkamp, President and CEO of LSS of SD, expressing gratitude for all those who attended the ceremony.

Betty Oldenkamp, President and CEO of LSS of SD, expressing gratitude for all those who attended the ceremony.

A recently-arrived refugee family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Furaha family, a recently-arrived refugee family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Betty and Tim, Director of the LSS Center for New Americans, receiving a plaque in recognition of our new facility and the work we do from representatives from the Sioux Falls Chambers of Commerce.

Betty and Tim, Director of the LSS Center for New Americans, receiving a plaque in recognition of our new facility and the work we do from representatives from the Sioux Falls Chambers of Commerce.

Chambers members, the Furaha family, Betty and Tim, local business and organization representatives, and a volunteer mentor family are ready to officially welcome all to the new location for the LSS Center for New Americans!

Chambers members, the Furaha family, Betty and Tim, local business and organization representatives, and a volunteer mentor family are ready to officially welcome all to the new location for the LSS Center for New Americans!

Read the rest of this entry »


Have Fun, Go M.A.D.

October 21, 2014

M.A.D. = Make A Difference!

For more than two decades, USA WEEKEND and Points of Light have joined together to bring Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. Make A Difference Day is celebrated annually and takes place this coming Saturday, October 25. The goal of the day is to connect people with opportunities to serve, increase the strength of communities and promote civic engagement. Read the rest of this entry »


One Click

October 20, 2014

I was reminded recently at how often children are just one CLICK away from becoming a sad statistic.  My daughters enjoy riding their bikes and cyclocross racing. It is great exercise and a fun way to enjoy time as a family. Through this hobby, we have become passionate about bicycle safety and teach our children how to ride safely, predictably and respectfully. Before a recent race, we checked each daughter’s helmet. We heard that reassuring CLICK as it buckled in place right under her cute little chin. After finishing her race, my six-year-old daughter was riding her bike back to our car. As my husband and I followed her on foot and watched in terror, she lost control of her bike and fell…hard…on the pavement. The picture below is her helmet. If you look closely, you can see that the protective foam that protected the back of her head is broken into three parts. My little girl was only one CLICK from becoming one of the 153,000 children that are treated in hospital emergency departments for bicycle-related head injuries each year. Some of those children never leave the hospital. (http://www.cdc.gov/program/performance/fy2000plan/2000xbicycle.htm)

click

Read the rest of this entry »


It Happens Nearly Every Week

October 17, 2014

It happens nearly every week that I come across someone with an LSS story to share.

Just recently, I was manning a LSS booth at a Sioux Empire United Way rally at a major Sioux Falls employer. We had been asked to be available to share information and answer questions that employees might have about LSS and the United Way. I spent nearly four hours there and about 100 people stopped by to visit. At least a quarter of them had a story they wanted to share about LSS.LSS.tag

Some of them had been adopted through LSS or knew a family member or friend who had been adopted through LSS. Some had received counseling after a divorce or a death in the family. Several had received help through the LSS Center for Financial Resources. One person, with tears in their eyes, told me their family was just six months away from being debt free thanks to LSS. Another was a refugee whose family had been resettled by the Center for New Americans.

All of them expressed their appreciation for what LSS had done for them and meant to them, their families and friends.

We touched nearly 50,000 lives last year at LSS. Behind that statistic are the faces of human beings. They come from all walks of life and all parts of South Dakota. They are young or old; they are financially stable or struggling to make ends meet; they are trying to make a new start after a divorce; they desire to start a family; or they just arrived in this country to start a new life. For a variety of reasons, they turn to LSS to for help, assistance and guidance. LSS is here to help.

Inspired by God’s love, we care for, support and strengthen individuals, families and communities—nearly 50,000 lives last year. And these lives pay LSS back through their support, prayers and stories of how LSS touched them and helped them. It happens nearly every week.

Bill Peterson, Vice President, LSS Development & Foundation


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