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