Cyber Monday Smile

November 30, 2014

Christmas is coming soon and stores are competing for our business. I find myself simplifying and finding ways to save in the midst of enjoying family fun and Christmas traditions. I tend to make my lists and price check online, then do my shopping in little evening stops locally or with a few clicks on favorite web sites. Some shoppers raced the crowds on “Black Friday” but for the online shopping fans, tomorrow is another day of gift buying.

If you happen to do some of your shopping on the Amazon web page, I thought you might find the Amazon Smile program to be as fun as I did. It allows you to choose a non-profit organization like LSS to receive a small donation from Amazon when you purchase the items you would be buying anyway. I signed up for it and was surprised at how simple it is. You can use the Amazon account you already have.

Go to (I made it a shortcut on my browser) and log into your Amazon account. Amazon then asks you which charity you want to select. Select “Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota Inc” and start shopping. The amount of money donated on eligible items is .5% of the purchase price but those purchases will add up as more shoppers choose LSS. I won’t spend any more knowing that a percentage of my purchase will benefit the clients served by LSS but I will smile while I shop.

Have a great day and please help us spread the word that LSS is a great organization to support if you are an Amazon shopper. Cyber Monday will be over soon but Giving Tuesday is coming!

-Heather DeWit

Some rights reserved by Fosforix

Some rights reserved by Fosforix

Thanksgiving and National Adoption Month

November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner FamilyThanksgiving and National Adoption Month go hand in hand. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the blessings that God has graciously given us, especially that of family. For many that includes becoming a family through adoption. For many that includes being a foster family caring for a child who is waiting for a permanent home. Read the rest of this entry »

A Community That Cares

November 26, 2014

Over the past few months I have witnessed numerous examples of how LSS exemplifies its core values and embodies a spirit of care. The fall season is typically when we conduct our employee giving and United Way campaigns. We ask LSS employees, who are already unique in that they choose to care by working for a mission-driven nonprofit, to give of their own financial ability to strengthen individuals, families and communities. This fall, LSS employees raised more than $15,000 for their local United Way agencies exemplifying the respectful and collaborative relationship LSS has with numerous local United Ways in South Dakota.

Fall also brings our annual meeting between the LSS Governing Board and the LSS Foundation Board. Collectively these boards boast 26 community leaders from all over South Dakota who come together to ensure that LSS responds strategically to service trends in South Dakota communities.

Through the countless hours of service LSS provides each month, it truly embodies a spirit of care. As one person I visited with this last month said, we are “in the business of saving lives.” Rather than tell you about how awesome LSS is, I want to reflect upon the spirit of care that Midwest communities embody. In so doing, I want to honor the privilege of working in partnership with, and representing humble and giving communities in South Dakota.

I preface this blog post by stating that I am not a South Dakota native. I am originally from Wales in the United Kingdom. But since moving to the prairie just over two years ago, there have been a number of things that have impressed me about this great state, two of which I’ll share with you. I have been exceedingly impressed with just how cold it can get in South Dakota. I didn’t even realize that anywhere outside of the Arctic got below zero until I moved here, so thanks for opening my eyes, South Dakota. In my 2.5 years in the state, the thing that has made the biggest and most lasting impression on me is the spirit of community that exists. The welcome that I have received has been overwhelming. South Dakotans give of their time, their resources and of themselves to the betterment of their fellow neighbors.

While visiting Rapid City this last month I was touched, moved and ultimately humbled by an LSS volunteer who was compelled, and I don’t use that term lightly, but compelled to work with our Stepping Stones program and mentor one of our clients in that program. This particular volunteer is an individual with a high profile job. Couple that with being a devoted family person, and you may wonder how they will have time to spare to volunteer with LSS. This is where the compulsion comes into play. The volunteer was so moved by the story of our client that their only logical conclusion was to say, “How can I help?”

At last month’s ribbon cutting for the new Center for New Americans, Sioux Falls proved its commitment to diversity by turning out in numbers to celebrate LSS and the ministry of welcome being performed through this program. The ribbon cutting was one the best attended events that I’ve had the privilege of attending in my time, and speaks volumes to the commitment the people of Sioux Falls have to insure that all people are made to feel welcome and thrive in our community.

Finally, as we in the Development & Foundation Department prepare for one of our busiest times of the year heading into our year-end mailing, I am reminded of the thoughtfulness of my new South Dakota friends. I received a call from one of the volunteers who helped us with the mailing last year by stuffing envelopes, applying stamps, and all that fun kind of stuff. This volunteer was so eager to help us prep this year’s mailing that they wanted to make sure they were the first person I called.

In reality these are just a small number of examples of how the community of South Dakota embodies a spirit of care, and I could probably spend hours chronicling many more examples. But as a newcomer to South Dakota and one whose heart is equally compelled to help further the mission of LSS, I have come to a simple solution as to how LSS is capable of providing its ministry of caring. At its core, LSS is a reflection of the community it serves. It shares the Compassion, Appreciation, Respect, Ethics and Strategic nature of everyday South Dakotans. It is because of those everyday South Dakotans and the many who are compelled to our mission that LSS has been able to provide such a long standing and high standard of care, and one of the many reasons I am proud to call the work of LSS not just my job but my passion.

Jamie Lennon, Assistant, LSS Development & Foundation

Who? What? Where? When? Classes at the Center for New Americans

November 25, 2014

As a follow up to LSS President Betty Oldenkamp’s blog about the “most controversial and least understood” work being done at the Center for New Americans, I asked our Education Program Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill to field some commonly asked questions by the public about classes held at LSS.

Education Program Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill, with learners from her English classes

Education Program Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill, with learners from her English classes

What kinds of classes are available at the Center for New Americans?

We offer four levels of English, three levels of Citizenship, STEP (Skills That Employ People) including Job-Specific English Classes, and Computer Classes.

Who can attend classes?

Any immigrant wanting to learn English can attend classes. Classes are free for everyone who has an immigrant visa and for those who don’t, they can attend by paying a small monthly fee.

When do you have classes?

We have English classes five times a day. Daytime hours are from 8-10, 10-12, 12:30-2:30, and 3-5 Monday through Thursday. Evening hours are from 6-8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

We offer Citizenship classes in the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Saturday mornings.

How long does it take a student to progress through your program?

Every learner is different. The speed of program completion is contingent on the level of previous education, age, and penchant for language learning. We typically cycle through content every quarter and a learner is allowed to repeat until they have mastered that levels content.

Where do learners who graduate from your program typically go afterwards?

Some learners continue their education at Southeast Technical Institute to study for their G.E.D. Some learners attend Kilian Community College’s Bridges Program to prepare for higher education. And some learners go directly to local colleges’ and universities’ education programs.

How can I get involved?

 Contact Kristyne, our volunteer coordinator, at 731-2009 to start the process to become a volunteer classroom assistant.

Over 400 students pass through the doors for classes at the Center for New Americans new home at 114 S. Main Ave

Over 400 students pass through the doors for classes at the Center for New Americans new home at 114 S. Main Ave

Making Holiday Donations? Don’t Get Scrooged!

November 24, 2014

‘Tis the season. Black Friday is coming. The advertisements are already in our faces. We are at least collecting Christmas lists if not already shopping. ‘Tis the season of giving. Most of us will be giving presents to our significant others, our kids, our extended family, our friends, our kids’ teachers or daycare providers, the neighbors, and yes, possibly even the neighbors’ dog (I’ve seen it happen). Read the rest of this entry »

How To Be #Unselfie

November 21, 2014

With all the Pre Pre Black Friday sales and ads, it’s hard to not get consumed by…well, consumerism. Yes, it is the holiday season. To show a different side, organizers are continuing (now in its third year) a movement called #GivingTuesday. It is where people are encouraged to pause during this extra busy time of year and help people in need. At LSS, we challenge you to be #unselfie everyday, but want you to show it to the world on December 2.

After you have recovered from Pre Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – give yourself a break and just be unselfie. See below for how to get involved.


We are in a new era of philanthropy! Join the global giving movement known as Giving Tuesday. Upload an selfless selfie to your Instagram account and use the hashtags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday to let us know how YOU'RE giving this year! For more info on Giving Tuesday go to: #giving #philanthropy #socialgood #selfie

Financial Lessons in the Dirt

November 18, 2014

Our family eats a lot of popcorn and as is tradition in my wife’s family, popcorn is made in a pot on the stove. No microwave popcorn here. As we took that tradition into our family, I decided to add a little influence from my side by growing our own popcorn. The garden was already there. We just needed to plant the seeds and let it grow.

We are a little particular about our popcorn, so we did order packets of yellow popcorn seed from one of the catalogs. Two packets cost us a total of $20. I know it sounds like a lot for corn seeds, but it’s what we like. I just finished processing our popcorn crop for this year. All cleaned, dried, and bagged, we ended up with 65 pounds of popcorn. That should be enough for us and my in-laws for the coming year. Read the rest of this entry »

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