Sanford employees make a difference through mentoring

June 29, 2015

Sanford employees in Sioux Falls have generously stepped up to the plate to take on students to mentor. There are currently 49 Sanford employees actively mentoring through the LSS program, 14 of which just started during the 2014-15 school year. Collectively, this group put in 1500 hours of mentoring! Read the rest of this entry »

Making Cross-Cultural Connections While Exploring SD History

June 26, 2015

When Mahli returned from the Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls with her students, I knew things had gone well.  She was beaming and talking a mile-a-minute.  “They loved it,” I heard several times as she showed me pictures from her camera of students trying on conductor hats, talking excitedly about a loom, and exploring historical coins.

Level 3 Citizenship students are all smiles posing inside the Courthouse Museum with Instructor Mahli Garry and Volunteers Brenda Ling and Frank Boerema.

Level 3 Citizenship students are all smiles posing inside the Courthouse Museum with Instructor Mahli Garry and Volunteers Brenda Ling and Frank Boerema.

“I wanted the students to visit the museum because it showed South Dakota history and the history of Sioux Falls.  I also wanted to facilitate a learning experience outside the classroom and have my students interact with the community.”  Mahli’s 20-25 learners who come every Saturday for citizenship class from 9:00 to 12:00 are from a variety of countries including Bhutan, Liberia, Sudan, Eritrea, and Ukraine.  All are studying American civics and government in preparation for passing the USCIS naturalization interview and test.

“I visited the Courthouse Museum a couple weeks before to let them know we were coming and asked to see their brochures and literature for visitors.  The staff were excited about our visit and offered to make a special pamphlet for our class, a unique guide with pictures of the exhibits.  We talked about the pamphlet in class before going.”

Exploring older modes of transportation.

Exploring older modes of transportation.

Students made connections with the Native American bead work they admired.

Students made connections with the Native American bead work they admired.

Students were fascinated by the American Indian Artistry Exhibit, which showcases cultural and historical artifacts used by Native Americans including bows and arrows, saddles, beaded purses, and a loom.  “The students connected the exhibit with their own experiences of using looms or their grandfathers using bows for hunting.” The City on Tracks exhibit was also enjoyed as students had ample opportunity to interact with the train exhibit.

"All aboard!"  Mahli and Baheru, a student from Ethiopia, take a break from their busy schedule as train conductors to pose for a quick picture.

“All aboard!” Mahli and Baheru, a student from Ethiopia, take a break from their busy schedule as train conductors to pose for a quick picture.

“I’m so thankful to the Courthouse Museum staff for welcoming us and creating the guide and the LSS volunteers who accompanied us.  This is a field trip I definitely want to do again!”

Over 600 Mentors Spoke and Here is What They Said…

June 25, 2015

Each Spring, we survey mentors about their experience. The results are analyzed, studied and most of all – enjoyed. Mentoring is an overwhelmingly positive experience for many and seeing the results of this survey is a validation that mentoring does work! Here is a summary of the results… Read the rest of this entry »

Middle School Students from Central Baptist Church Volunteer

June 24, 2015

Middle school students from Central Baptist Church were challenged to serve the Sioux Empire from June 15-18. More than 100 middle school students served local non-profit agencies, organizations and charities for “SIOUX-per Summer Serve”.

Nine students and one adult came to the LSS Center for Children & Youth and made their own happy memories while creating Lifebook pages for children in LSS Foster Care and Residential Services. They created 58 pages, organized scrapbook supplies and sorted previously made pages into various categories.

A Lifebook contains specific information about a child’s birth, birth family, culture, school history, places they have lived and much more. Often, children in foster care may not have someone who knows all about them, including things like where they were born, their biological grandparents, when they lost their first tooth or what their favorite food was when they were eight.

Lifebooks are intended to help children keep track of their life’s path. “A Lifebook simply brings a child’s past, present and future together,” says Dede Mogck, director of LSS Foster Care Services. “A Lifebook is always a ‘work in progress’ in that a foster parent and a child add to the book as the child reaches different life stages.”

Lifebooks help children in foster care, adoption, or other out-of-home placements to fill in the gaps of their life stories. Knowing their story helps them to understand who they are, increases their self-esteem, helps them set goals and look to their future. Lifebooks can be used as a tool to talk about difficult subjects and can help children prepare to return to their birth families or to possibly move to adoptive families.

This motivated group of young volunteers from Central Baptist Church had a great time while using their creative talents for a worthy project. We want to thank the students for their hard work and for helping foster kids hold onto their memories and define their life stories.

If you are interested in volunteering for one of the many LSS services, click here.

Linda Jensen, LSS Development Officer, Development & Foundation

Dealing With “THE CALL”

June 23, 2015

“Pay NOW or else!”

“Or else what?”

“Or else we will have you arrested, have your kids taken away, tell your friends and family how bad you are at paying what you owe, publish your debts in the local newspaper, continue to call at all hours of the night, notify your employer that you owe us a lot of money, and whatever else it takes to get you to pay up instead of being a @#(!%……” Read the rest of this entry »

World Refugee Day June 20th

June 18, 2015

On June 20th, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), LSS Center for New Americans honors World Refugee Day, a day to become informed of the plight of millions of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons.


Here are some facts about refugees

  • Refugees are people who have fled due to war and persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a social or political group. There were 7 million refugees  from around the world who have fled by the end of 2013.  50% were under the age of 18.1[i]
  • During the year, conflict and persecution forced an average of 32,200 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries.
  • The United States is one of many countries around the world that have committed to resettling refugees as a part of a global humanitarian mission. It is an important, enduring and ongoing expression of the United States’ commitment to international humanitarian principles.
  • The U.S. Government, as determined by the President of the United States, allowed approximately 70,000 refugees to enter our country last year. About 35 to 40 percent of refugees resettled in the U.S. are children.
  • Refugees are screened and go through in-depth background checks prior to receiving refugee status and before resettlement. Information is gathered and interviews are conducted by the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS), FBI and the US Embassy.
  • Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota helped resettle 424 individuals within Sioux Falls and 112 in Huron in 2014. This is less than 1% of the total population of refugees resettled in the U.S.
  • LSS operates refugee resettlement offices in Sioux Falls and Huron. The primary goals for all services are self-sufficiency and cultural adjustment. LSS provides six core services:
  • Community Orientation & Education
  • Case Management
  • Employment Services
  • English Language Training
  • Immigration Services
  • Interpreter Services.

What can you do to get involved?

  • Get involved in the work of welcoming with LSS Center for New Americans through mentoring a recently arrived refugee family or assisting in our ESL classrooms. Click here to get started.
  • Host your own World Refugee Day event by screening a topical film at your home and inviting your friends and family. Here are some film suggestions from the UNHCR.
  • Support financially the welcoming work of LSS Center for New Americans and other resettlement agencies.
  • Interact and learn from experiencing the UNHCR’s online simulation Against All Odds (Note: this online simulation may not be suitable for small children.)
  • Get creative! People all over the world are hosting events in honor of this day and a quick online search can provide you will many wonderful ideas!

[i]Facts from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

How To Get Sellers To Say ‘Yes’ To Your Offer

June 17, 2015

Think it’s time to look for your first home?  Here’s a little dose of reality to start you off.

Here in the Sioux Falls market (and reflected in many markets around the region) there is a general shortage of listings in the typical ‘first-time buyer’ price range.  Like, about a third of what they would like to see.  This means things are going fast.  One couple I had in class in Sioux Falls reported they had put offers in on three different houses the day they came on the market and were still too late.  The homes had sold.  One client in Brookings reported they had it happen four times before they got a home. Read the rest of this entry »

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