The $100 Week-Long Vacation

April 30, 2015


As the end of school approaches, my wife and I have started planning for the summer.  Having already taken a big trip, we aren’t really planning on any trips other than a couple of family reunions in the area.  None the less, we have some vacation time to use.  So what to do, what to do?  As we both look at taking vacation the week of July 4th, I think I have a week of vacation traveling planned for a mere $100.  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating SF Boomers@50+

April 29, 2015
 Betty Oldenkamp LSS President/CEO

Betty Oldenkamp
LSS President/CEO

They grew up with a landline, Pac-Man and Star Wars and experienced the Vietnam War, the assassination of a president and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the surface of the moon. They are America’s largest, and often loudest generation. They are the Baby Boomers.

The U.S. population exploded after WWII, creating a generation of Americans with disposable income and sparking the consumer economy. And things would never be the same.

The members of the generation that once railed against the establishment, publicly organized in support of equality for everyone and attended music festivals wearing fringe and bell bottoms, have turned 60. And they’ve left their mark on America in ways they never dreamed possible.

Bill Peterson LSS Vice President Development & Foundation

Bill Peterson
LSS Vice President
Development & Foundation

Inspired by a national boomer list compiled by the PBS program, “American Masters,” AARP Sioux Falls created its own list of 19 notable boomers – AARP Boomers @50+ Sioux Falls – who have been an important part of the city’s growth, development and success. The list includes LSS President/CEO Betty Oldenkamp and Vice President of Development & Foundation, Bill Peterson.

To celebrate the city’s own resident boomers born between 1946 and 1964, AARP, Keloland TV, The Washington Pavilion and Evans Gallery have sponsored an exhibit in the Washington Pavilion featuring the portraits of each boomer. KELO also interviewed each of those featured on the Boomer List for a short video in which they recall fond memories, reflect on the turbulent times and events and give a little sage advice gained from experience.

Tom Dempster LSS Board Chair

Tom Dempster
LSS Board Chair

Betty Oldenkamp recalled playing Hide and Seek, the impact of her mother’s independent spirit and how quickly things have changed during her lifetime. “The rate of change we’re experiencing is greater than what other generations saw before us. The fact that we do so much without a connection to other things fascinates me,” she said.

In light of the boomers’ past angst toward corporations and the establishment, Bill Peterson enjoyed a little laugh when he said, “Look who’s leading all of those organizations. Look who is rolling up their sleeves and working in many of them. By and large, it’s the Baby Boomers who started them or have taken them over, taking them to a whole different level.”

Joe Henkin HenkinSchultz Creative Services

Joe Henkin
Creative Services

Both Betty and Bill have been important in the growth and development of LSS and we couldn’t be prouder. Also included on the list are longtime supporters of LSS Joe Henkin, partner at HenkinSchultz Creative Services who has worked with LSS for the past 17 years and former South Dakota State Senator, Tom Dempster who sits on the LSS board and plays an active role in the community through various organizations and affiliations.

It may be ironic, but it’s not surprising that Sioux Falls’ Baby Boomers have done great things for the city and the state. Their generation never could leave well enough alone.

Photos courtesy of Rod Evans, Evans Photography Gallery.

Preschool Confidence- How Can We Be So Sure?

April 27, 2015

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Nationally, there is a focus on how best we can ensure our children are prepared for the future through education. Research shows that this process begins in the womb. As parents, that can put a lot of pressure on us to provide the ideal learning opportunities for our children from the moment we fall in love with them. I believe that sometimes that drive to prepare our children academically can cause us to miss the greatest opportunity for doing just that. We are so excited for our little ones to learn that we forget to encourage the very thing that will help them learn best- play!

As we sort and stack the sweet little graduation caps, tassels and gowns for our preschool class of 2015, I cannot resist thinking about the fact that they are just 13 years away from becoming the high school graduating class of 2028. Fortunately, I’m confident that as a preschool, we have partnered with their parents as they prepared them to be wildly successful! I’m also excited that we will have the opportunity to watch many of these little ones grow as they continue on in our After-School and Summer Programs. Some of our students that have grown up in Sioux Falls have even sent us high school graduation invites or stopped in to show us just how successful they are! Some of our graduates are even LSS employees now. This is such a blessing.

graduation kid istock

I imagine you are wondering how I can be so confident that our preschool has prepared students to be successful. What follows is a small list of the reasons that I believe LSS provides the type of preschool experience to our students that will help them grow and learn so I have collected some quotes from around the world to support my belief. Read the rest of this entry »

A Celebration of Mentoring! Recap of the Mentor Appreciation Breakfast

April 24, 2015

On April 16, over 250 mentors gathered to celebrate, learn and reflect at the annual LSS Mentor Appreciation Breakfast.Mentor Breakfast April 2015 027

The morning kicked off with remarks by David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. MENTOR, an organization celebrating 25 years, provides technical assistance and training to mentoring organizations and advocates for mentoring across the country. David began by talking a little about Our Kids by Robert Putnam. In this new book, Putnam says that efforts to address the opportunity gap must also address the mentoring gap. David commended LSS for their commitment to closing the gap by growing the program to more than 1,000 mentors in partnership with over 65 different schools in its 14 year history. From the national perspective, he said that is “rarified air.”

Mentor Breakfast April 2015 016David thanked the school staff who make mentoring happen by saying they understand that, “we must balance content with relationship in order for our young people to thrive and strive.” He went on to outline the commitment of MENTOR and pointed out a new “mile marker” in the mentoring movement, a research study entitled The Mentoring Effect that found one in three young people are reaching adulthood without the support of a mentor.

David concluded his remarks by saying, “At our best, we exemplify the best in mentoring relationships, steadfast commitment to one another, understanding of one another, and ultimately a collective elevation of one another, our communities, and our nation. Thanks so much for your role in the mentoring movement and let’s continue to tell our story and grow our ranks and help our young people continue to write their stories, stories worthy of their great potential when they know their journey is filled with folks walking beside them.”

The morning continued with the presentation of the Community Partner Award to Sanford Health, the Rookie Mentor Award to Mike Mortland and the Outstanding Mentor Award to Jeremy Anderson.

Mentor Breakfast April 2015 030

Sanford Health

Mentor Breakfast April 2015 035

Mike Mortland

Mentor Breakfast April 2015 036

Jeremy Anderson

LSS President and CEO Betty Oldenkamp thanked school officials who have helped with mentoring who will not be returning to the district next year, including Superintendent Dr. Pam Homan.

Mentors were invited to share what mentoring means to them, talk with other mentors and left with a challenge to recruit just one volunteer to help reduce the waiting list of 300 Sioux Falls area students who want or need a mentor.I mentor because (11)LSS is thrilled the event went so well and is thankful for the event sponsors: First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard, Citi, Sanford Health and Wells Fargo.

Financial Protection During Physical Storms

April 21, 2015

When I was young, I would spend a week with each of my grandparents. I can remember one summer at the farm when my cousin was there as well. It was one of those days when you knew something was going to happen. The wind was blowing, the clouds were dark and mean, the humidity was about 110%, and Grandma was keeping us particularly close to the house. Standing in the yard, my cousin and I looked up to see what looked like two lines of clouds smashing into each other.

“See that?” he asked. “That’s how tornadoes start.” Read the rest of this entry »

A Volunteer? Priceless…

April 17, 2015

April is National Volunteer Month and on behalf of the Center for New Americans, our education instructors, and our 400 English learners, we want to say “THANK YOU” to our Classroom and Mentor Volunteers


Thank you for your consistency in showing up week after week.
Thank you for being willing to put yourself in unfamiliar situations and express welcome to those newly arrived.
Thank you for speaking slowly and clearly.
Thank you for your patient repetitions and for all the smiles and encouraging head nods that speak volumes of respect and compassion.
Thank you for the opportunity your presence gives for our learners to have authentic communication with native speakers.
Thank you for being a another pair of English “eyes” and “ears” in our large English classes.
Thank you for being “second teachers” so our learners maximize the time they have in class.
Thank you for the “Namaste,” the “See you next week,” the “Good job!” with which you cheerfully send our learners off after every class.


Tamayo Dale and Students

We are so grateful for you and believe fully that the quality of our program is reflected in the quality of our faithful volunteers.

Thank you for your partnership in our work of welcoming.

I had a Starfish Moment

April 15, 2015

Do you know that story? The one about the starfish? I’ll give you a recap. A man is walking on the beach and sees a boy throwing starfish back into the ocean. They are stuck on the beach and if they don’t get back in the water they will die. There are hundreds of starfish spread across miles of beach. The man tells the boy that he can’t possibly make any difference. The boy just listens to the man and smiles and picks up another and says, “I made a difference to that one.”

Let’s go back to the man. He is overwhelmed by the amount of starfish to save and decides not to act. He feels like he is just one man and couldn’t possibly make a difference. Do you ever feel like that? Like there is just too much and it’s too hard? I think we all do sometimes. It sometimes seems impossible to make a dent in the amount of hardships in this world. It’s so easy to get caught up in the vastness of the problem and not see what difference you can make.

young boyThen there are days when you get to bear witness. You get to witness the joy of one of those saved starfish. We have moments like that all the time at LSS, but not everyone gets to hear about them. So here is an LSS starfish moment that I witnessed and wanted to share with you.

Last month I overhear a little boy in our conference room. This little guy took in a deep breath and said, “Hi Daddy!” It was adorable. It wasn’t until later that I learned the story of what was happening in our conference room. There was a dad at the other end of a video conference call who was part of our Fatherhood and Families program at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield. The video conference call was set up as part of a pilot program for the Department of Corrections. An LSS case manager was with the dad, while his son was in our office to use our video conference equipment. This was the first time in nine months this boy had an opportunity to see or talk to his dad. That adorable voice telling his daddy hello takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

Fatherhood and Families…. You made a difference to that one little boy.

Jessica Lillebo, Western Regional Director, Development & Foundation

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