Thank you, Sioux Falls!

More than 400 people came out to support the Center for New Americans this past Saturday night at our annual Taste of Cultures fundraiser.

The event was sold out and included support from more than 20 local businesses.

That’s a lot of local support for our goal of helping new immigrants and refugees on their path to self-sufficiency here in Sioux Falls.

Phil Schreck, the Senior Meteorologist for KSFY TV, emceed the event that included performances by several music and dance groups as well as an award ceremony for some of our special partners.

Congratulations to all of our award winners including:

Jenna Aukerman, Volunteer of the Year

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Congregational Partner of the Year

Grand Prairie Foods, Employer of the Year

Lloyd Properties, Community Partner of the Year


vol of year cropped

From left to right: LSS CEO Betty Oldenkamp, Volunteer of the Year Jenna Aukerman, and Center for New Americans Director Tim Jurgens.

But it’s not only South Dakota natives who support our goal. Some of the attendees and supporters Saturday night were once refugees themselves.

Eighteen years ago, Abdulah Delibasic came to the U.S. as a refugee, fleeing civil war in his home country of Yugoslavia.

When he arrived in Sioux Falls, he was greeted and helped by LSS. Now, many years later, Abdulah gives back to the agency that helped him get on his feet in the U.S.

“They helped me, and I want to support them,” Abdulah explained, as he sat at a table with his family at the fundraiser Saturday night. He and his wife, Indira, own and operate the commercial cleaning business, Sioux Empire Cleaning.  They have raised their children here in Sioux Falls, including Elmar who is a student at Roosevelt High School.

Sioux Cleaning

From left to right: Elmar Delibasic, Hannah Ross, Taiba Miftari, Muhamed Miftari, Indira Delibasic, and Abdulah Delibasic came out to support the Center of New Americans Saturday night.

Sharon Andrews, who has taught education classes at Augustana University for 27 years, said she came to support LSS’s mission to refugees and immigrants because she believes in its importance in the community.

“Here at Augustana, we have an English as a New Language endorsement program for teachers, mostly working in K-12. We have worked closely with the Center for New Americans, and I want to give back for all the help they have given our students,” she said.  Andrews has even volunteered in the classrooms here at LSS.

auggie prof

Augustana College Education Professor Sharon Andrews and her mother, Maxine Johnson, enjoy appetizers before the entertainment begins.

Before the night’s entertainment began, Schreck said, “We are all immigrants. Unless you are a Native American, you, too, have come from somewhere else.”

His words were received with a round of applause – not only are his words true, but they also speak to something more: the U.S. is indeed a nation of immigrants and that is what makes our country so unique and innovative.

We are so thankful for our community partners who understand the value of immigrants to the American culture.

Below you’ll find some pictures from the evening’s entertainment. Enjoy!

mex band

Mariachi Andariegos

step dancers2

Celtic Steps

lion dance TOC

Lion Dance

viet dancers

Ky Vien Pagoda Dance Team

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson






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