Xcel Energy Empowers Sioux Falls Immigrants with Education

July 31, 2015

It is always a pleasure to see Eric Pauli, an Xcel Energy representative, at LSS Center for New Americans. His presence usually means we are approaching the joyful and satisfying conclusion to a pre-employment class, also known as a STEP class (Skills That Employ People).  LSS is able to offer these classes to our adult refugee and immigrant learners due in large part to Xcel Energy’s generous financial support of workforce development.

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company operating in eight Western and Midwestern states. The company is committed to providing cost-effective, clean, responsible energy delivered with the highest standards for safety, reliability and responsiveness. Xcel Energy supports communities in four important focus areas: STEM education, workforce development, environmental stewardship, and access to arts and culture.  Xcel Energy has supported LSS since 2004 and the Center for New Americans since 2009.


On July 6th, Eric Pauli presented learners in the Introduction to Patient Care Course a $7000 check from Xcel Energy that will make future classes like theirs possible.  Grants like these are part of the company’s corporate giving Economic Sustainability focus area, promoting workforce development, workforce readiness, specific job skills training, job placement and job creation.

Students in the Introduction to Patient Care Course pose with Betty Oldenkamp, LSS Executive Director; Carol Hudson, Class Instructor; and Laura Smith-Hill, CNA Education Program Coordinator.

Students in the Introduction to Patient Care Course pose with Betty Oldenkamp, LSS Executive Director; Carol Hudson, Class Instructor; and Laura Smith-Hill, CNA Education Program Coordinator. 

Benefitting from this class were high-level English students from such diverse places as Eritrea and Ethiopia, Belarus and Ukraine, Japan, Bhutan, and Iraq.  The Introduction to Patient Care Course is of particular interest to its instructor, Carol Hudson, who worked as a nurse in Sioux Falls for sixteen years before changing careers to adult education.  Carol shares “Because we have refugees and immigrants who come with work experience and interest in medicine, this class can help them get on the path towards possible licensure in the United States…This class can give guidance to refugees and immigrants interested in the medical field, interested in improving their lives and achieving higher paying jobs…I want people to stay in the medical field and enjoy it.”

The class focuses on introducing its diverse student body to the culture and expectations of the United States medical system.  It covers what to expect if students want to pursue a job in a hospital or nursing home in the United States.  Some former students of the class have gone on to different educational programs where they have received their licensure as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or a B.A. in Nursing.  A current graduate of the class, who was formerly a doctor in Russia, hopes to enroll in a Physician’s Assistant program soon.

Eric Pauli, Xcel Energy Representative, visits with learners from the Introduction to Patient Care Course taught by English Instructor and former nurse, Carol Hudson.

Eric Pauli, Xcel Energy Representative, visits with learners from the Introduction to Patient Care Course taught by English Instructor and former nurse, Carol Hudson.

In 2014, Xcel Energy invested over $13 million in support of communities across its service territory.  Last year, Xcel Energy grants enabled LSS to offer 9 pre-employment classes—STEP classes—whose topics included manufacturing safety, commercial housekeeping, landscaping and gardening, food service and safety, and workplace technology.

Through these STEP classes:

  • 144 refugees and immigrants were served
  • 77% of students obtained employment within 3 months of completing the class
  • 99% of students retained employment after 6 months

Thank you, Xcel Energy, for your financial generosity and partnership, which is helping refugees and immigrants at the LSS Center for New Americans prepare for entry level positions in various fields and move forward in achieving goals of upward mobility and meaningful careers in the medical field.

Lies Your Friends Will Tell You About Credit Cards

July 30, 2015

Credit cards – they certainly can be one hot topic of discussion.  Unfortunately, some of those conversations I’ve been a part of end up being one hot mess.  Everybody seems to have an opinion.  Many of those opinions are based on something someone told them somewhere.  But you know what they say about opinions – they are like butts.  Everyone has one and a lot of them stink.  So let’s get rid of the credit card opinions out there and deal with the facts.  Just the facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Thank You Counselors, HyVee and Plains Commerce Bank!

July 27, 2015

LSS Mentoring Services received a few donations this summer that we would like to highlight!

First, the SD Counseling Association – Sioux Chapter donated funds from their Fun Run/Walk held in conjunction with their annual conference. We are so appreciative of this gift! The funds will be used to purchase new games and activities for matches to use at schools throughout Sioux Falls.

counseling donation

LSS Mentoring is honored to be part of HyVee Operation Helpful Smile. There are small collection jars at each HyVee check out and for one week in June, LSS benefited from customers gifts. HyVee also donates an additional $1,000 on top of what was collected. Funds from this gift will be used to support the costs associated with recruiting and training mentors that will start this fall.

IMG_2016And lastly, we were honored to be selected to receive the profits from concession sales during selected Downtown Sioux Falls Moonlight Movies throughout the summer! We are thankful for Plains Commerce Bank for their support in coordinating the concession stand and for providing staff who made lots of popcorn and sold lots of candy! The funds from this project will support Mentor Try-It Events that will take place this coming school year.

Thank you for your support! We are so appreciate of financial donations. If you are interested in making a difference in mentoring, please consider a donation to LSS.

100 Degree Christmas

July 24, 2015

Originally published 7/2014, we decided this is a good one to bring back today.  Enjoy!

According to the weather reports, today is supposed to have a heat index of over 100 degrees. Perhaps you like this ridiculously hot weather, but it is not for me. As for the summer, I love highs in the upper 70’s, maybe breaking 80 on the hot days. Days like today just make me want to sing. No, not sing for joy. Today you just might hear me singing “I’m dreaming…..of a white…..Christmas”. There might even be a little Bing Crosby flavor in there. But that’s usually the point my wife rolls her eyes at me. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Fun: New American Style

July 23, 2015

Imagine growing up in the hot and humid, sub-tropical weather of southern Bhutan or in Eritrea where the average year-round temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now imagine you are resettled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota…in January.

Snow for the first time…ice…blizzard warnings…wind that hurts your face…(Talk about culture shock.)  Welcome to your new home! 

Now imagine the cold and snow slowly receding as green grass and bright flowers gradually emerge.

[Sigh]  Hello sunshine!  Hello warmth!  Hello summer!

For me, summer means early morning runs and dodging bikers on the bike trails.  It means skirts and sandals and eating my lunches outside.  It means using some of my vacation time to visit family, go camping, and spend some days beside a lake.

Curious about what our newer Americans enjoyed doing in the summer in Sioux Falls, I asked our high-level English students at LSS Center for New Americans, “What do you like to do in the summer in Sioux Falls?” Below is a list they compiled.

The Top Ten Things to do in the Summer in Sioux Falls

Falls Park (Photo courtesy of Greg Woods)

Falls Park (Photo courtesy of Greg Woods)

1) Visit Falls Park

2) Play tennis, soccer, or baseball

3) Go on a picnic

4) Go camping

5) Go swimming

Cooling off at one of Sioux Falls' many swimming pools (Photo courtesy of Julie Jordan Scott)

Cooling off at one of Sioux Falls’ many swimming pools (Photo courtesy of Julie Jordan Scott)

6) Ride a bike on the bike path

Photo courtsey of Dale Olson

Bike Path (Photo courtesy of Dale Olson)

7) Go to Thunder Road

Thunder Road (Photo courtesy of South Dakota PUblic Broadcasting photostream)

Thunder Road (Photo courtesy of South Dakota PUblic Broadcasting photostream)

8) Go to the zoo

The Great Plains Zoo is home to the Eastern Black Rhino, a native of East Africa.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Woods)

The Great Plains Zoo is home to the Eastern Black Rhino, a native of East Africa. (Photo courtesy of Greg Woods)

9) Go to a baseball game

10) Garden

Whether you’re a new American or you have lived here your whole life, summer is the perfect time to explore and enjoy what the city of Sioux Falls has to offer.

Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.   ~Wendell Berry

-Post by Kadie, LSS Center for New Americans

Ten Years and a Playground at Southern Hills

July 21, 2015
My daughter at the 2005 building of the old playground.

My daughter at the 2005 building of the old playground.

Ten years can go by in a flash unless you happen to be a playground! Ten years ago the After-School Program students at Southern Hills worked hard to raise money for a playground. They wowed me with their determination and parents, church members and the community came to help assemble a playground that we were all excited about! My oldest daughter was a newborn so as my husband and I were helping to set up the play set we were also dreaming of the day that the little cutie in the stroller would be old enough to play on the slide. Then….I blinked and somehow ten years happened.

Time really does fly when I am having fun and while ten years means my daughter is much bigger and has enjoyed many years on that play set, it also means that hundreds of children have played on the equipment and we wore it out! It is time for a new playground and that means a little fundraising to make it happen.

We need your help!

  1. Donate if you can please. Every penny counts in crowd funding so give a little or give a lot! Click the link to watch a fun video from some of our oldest school age students and to place your donation: https://weraise.wheatridge.org/en/projects/22404-More-Slides-at-Southern-Hills
  2. Share the project on Facebook, Twitter or in person! Invite your friends and family to give. We have shared it on our Facebook page so please follow us or visit our Facebook to share! https://www.facebook.com/LSSLearning
  3. Repeat and act fast! Please share often and in a variety of ways. Watch as the funds grow and share update with those who will be excited with the kids! Our fundraiser ends on July 31 so please move quickly!

The new playground will provide a number of improvements:

  • There will be more to do! More slides, monkey bars, swings, climbers, tether ball poles and more will add to the fun! New equipment will give us all more exercise and help us learn and grow strong!
  • No more pea rock! We will have a nice wood mulch surface so the little ones can’t get rock in their mouths and you won’t have them coming home in shoes.
  • No more mud! With some great landscaping work, we should be able to avoid muddy shoes without having to stay inside.

The picture below shows the play set, swings, tether balls, etc. that would be part of our new adventure!

playground set one

Our stretch goal will get us an even bigger play set!

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services

My daughter is ten and will be able to help us install the NEW playground! Time sure flies!

My daughter is ten now and will be able to help us install the NEW playground! Time sure flies!

Dear Preschooler,

July 11, 2015

Dear Preschooler,
I think you should know how loved you are.

Right now, two months before the new school year begins, your teacher is excited to meet you.  She is looking at the class list and waiting for the first day to come just like you wait for your birthday!

You should know that when you come to preschool open house, you aren’t the only one feeling butterflies in your tummy. We are excited too!

You should know that with each year comes new adventures in learning. When you begin an art project with that box of back to school crayons, we feel joy with you. We are here because of you. You make our days matter.

You should know that we see big things in your future but feel blessed that we get to share THESE MOMENTS with you. We are happy to be a place where we love you for who you are. You are pretty great so that just makes sense.

You should know that we lay awake at night pondering what will be best for you. We think about new ways to help you learn to love books and search for new songs to help you remember what you are learning. While you are having fun playing in the sand table, we are watching you learn to measure and grinning as your coordination grows. You just go ahead and have fun and we will be sure you learn a lot!

Your teacher has taught many classes but there is something in her that ensures that you feel special. That is good, because you are special.

You are so very loved. I just thought you should know.

“Ms. Heather”
Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services

PS- We do have a few rare openings in our Preschool classes. If you are interested, you can learn more at www.LssSD.org


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