Flying the Coop Without Landing in Poop

April 29, 2016

It’s graduation season.  Whether it is seniors in high school orcomputer on couch college, there is about to be a whole flock of newly graduated individuals looking to fly the coop and seek out their independence.  They want to be adults (or at least closer to adults) and be on their own.  They want to get out of rules and curfews and putting up with a shared bathroom.  Without some forethought and education, leaping from the coop could leave them feeling like they ended up under the coop rather than winging across the skies of freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

LSS of Aberdeen Wants to THANK YOU!

April 27, 2016

Thanks to all the volunteers and businesses who helped make the LSS Benefit Dinner in Aberdeen a Huge Success! Thank you to our sponsors:

ELCA •‡ L & S Agency •‡ Malchow’s Home Furnishings ‡• New Life Fellowship •‡ Dacotah Bank ‡• Lamont Companies •‡ Lutheran Disaster Response Services •‡ Western Printing •‡ American Family Insurance ‡• Center for Disaster of Philanthropy •‡ Midwest Center for Disaster Philanthropy •‡ Moccasin Creek Country Club ‡• Plains Commerce Bank •‡ Runnings ‡• Wells Fargo Advisors ‡• 3M •‡ Aberdeen Development Corporation ‡• Aberdeen Federal Credit Union ‡• Aberdeen Flying Service •‡ Aberdeen Wings North American Hockey League •‡ Barton Heating & Air Conditioning •‡ Brown County Chapter of Thrivent Financial ‡• CO-OP Architecture ‡• Dakota Broadcasting ‡• Farmer’s Insurance Group •‡ Faulk County Chapter of Thrivent Financial ‡• First Premier Realty, Inc. •‡ Mark Mehlhoff Insurance, Inc. ‡• Sanford Health–Aberdeen ‡• South Dakota Wheat Growers •‡ US Bank •‡ Be Mobile–Aberdeen •‡ Mark A. Bledsoe Chiropractic Clinic ‡• Bremer Photography ‡• Hardin’s Photography ‡• Healthcare Plus Federal Credit Union ‡• Kessler’s •‡ Super 8 ‡• Aberdeen Sport Recreation •‡ Academy Trophy •‡ Airport Travel Center/Café •‡ Anchors of Faith •‡ Ashley Furniture ‡• Beadle Floral & Nursery •‡ Boho Closet Boutique ‡• The Brass Kettle •‡ Bridge City Marina & Resort, Inc. •‡ Buffalo Wings & Rings •‡ Butler Machinery Company ‡• Caribou Coffee •‡ Crawford Trucks & Equipment, Inc. •‡ Eddie’s Northside Sinclair ‡• Firestone •‡ Foote Creek Bed & Breakfast •‡ Gold Dust Casino and Hotel •‡ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church •‡ Harr Motors •‡ Herberger’s •‡ Hitch’N Post Western Wear ‡• Jimmy John’s Restaurant ‡• Kathy Bangasser ‡• Kristina’s Candy Bouquet ‡• Lang’s Audio TV & Appliance ‡• LSS Watertown Golf Event ‡• Maurices •‡ Mavericks Steak & Cocktails ‡• Max & Erma’s ‡• The Millstone Family Restaurant •‡ Northern State University Bookstore ‡• Perkins Restaurant & Bakery ‡• Pounder’s Pub & Grub •‡ Premier Auto ‡• Riddle’s Jewelry •‡ Ruby Tuesday •‡ Starbucks •‡ Target •‡ Tip & Toe Nails •‡ Titan Machinery •‡ TownePlace Suites by Marriot •‡ Wal-Mart •‡ Wells Fargo Bank

A Special Thank You to Pastor Rodney Johnson, Pastor Cassandra Lamb, Pastor Rhia Strohm, Rebecca Cox, Pastor Marcia Sylvester, Pastor Tim Sersen, Dixie Garrett, Becky Malchow and Pastor Sammy Allen for all of your involvement and volunteering your time to this benefit event. Thank you also to The Crazy Keys Dueling Pianos show.

Money raised for the LSS Annual Benefit Dinner will stay right here in Aberdeen, SD. The money raised will go to support LSS services such as: Counseling Services, EAP, Center for Financial Resources, Adoption Services, Pregnancy Counseling, Foster Care, Kinship Services, Residential Services for Children and Youth – New Beginnings Center, Disaster Response Services, Community Resource Program and Center for New Americans.

Liesl Hovel, LSS Development & Foundation
Director, Northeast Region

A Question Finally Answered

April 22, 2016

At a recent local presentation I attended, the speaker finished his presentation with a slide that said “Get stuff done.”  In the Q&A I asked specifically what was being done in regards to affordable housing.  A Realtor that was sitting next to me later commented “You didn’t really get an answer, did you?”  Sure I did.

That IS an answer, but…..

Read the rest of this entry »

What do you do on Saturday mornings?

April 21, 2016

 “OK, I’m going to ask you to do some writing,” I say to the Chinese woman sitting across from me.  “Can you write the words ‘in,’ ‘on,’ ‘the’?”

The woman smiles – that is easy.

“OK, now two more words: ‘was,’ ‘the,’” I say.

Again, the response is a smile as the woman writes the words on the piece of paper in front of her.

“Now, here are some harder words,” I say. “Can you spell ‘American Indians’?”

The woman’s eyes get big as she hears the words, and then she covers her mouth and laughs a beautiful laugh. “Oh no!” she yells out, shaking her head. “I didn’t go to school.  My English is horrible!” she says in perfect English.

“You can do it. Just give it a try,” I say.

“I never went to school a day in my life!” she says, laughing.

“It’s okay,” I say, returning her smile. “That is why you are here. You are here to learn!”

This conversation took place last Saturday morning as LSS English teachers gathered at the Center for New Americans (CNA) to test the English level of refugees and immigrants who are on the path to U.S. Citizenship.

Yes, we teach English here at the CNA, but we also teach Citizenship Classes – U.S. history and government – to more than 200 Sioux Falls residents every year.

citizenship testing

Students gather at the Center for New Americans to be placed in a Citizenship Class. 

For many in Sioux Falls, Saturday mornings are for sleeping in and enjoying a hearty breakfast, but for these refugees and immigrants, Saturday mornings mean only one thing: citizenship classes.

For two Saturdays in March, we tested hopeful U.S. citizens to get them ready for the next wave of citizenship classes. Some can speak and write quite well.  Others are only just learning this strange foreign language that resembles nothing from their childhood tongue – in writing or sound.

What I enjoy most about the testing process is the kindness and eagerness of the students.

After they are tested, I tell them their level and I say, “Come back next Saturday to start your class. You will come every Saturday through May.”

“Only on Saturday?” they ask. “Only once a week?  Not more?”

“No,” I say. “Only once a week.  Only on Saturday morning.  9 a.m. to noon.”

“Ok, thank you,” they say, but I know they are disappointed. They would like to come every day!

As I interview the students, I learn bits and pieces of their lives. This one was in a refugee camp for 19 years.  This one hasn’t seen her mother for a decade.  This one has four children at home and she never gets to sleep. : )  (I know what that’s like!)  This one works every day in construction, but he will ask off for Saturday mornings so he can attend citizenship class.  This one supports two children by herself with a nightshift job.  She also comes to English classes and now, citizenship classes.  The stories go on as different students sit in front of me for five or ten minutes, and I am lucky enough to get a glimpse of their lives.

I always make sure to look into their eyes, and there, I often feel, I glimpse not only the individual, but all of humanity. I see trust, kindness, openness, a willingness to learn, gratitude, and hope.

Two blogs ago, I wrote about the words of philosopher Emmanual Levinas: “the Face of the Other calls us into an ethical relationship.”

Those faces on Saturday mornings call me to an ethical relationship not only with that person, but with all of humanity.

Welcome to the U.S., soon-to-be new citizens!  We are glad you have come to bring us your joy and hope!

I only hope that we can return the favor.

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson


Looking to start or expand your family?

April 20, 2016

Families interested in learning more about adopting a child through domestic or international adoption are invited to attend an Informational Meeting at LSS. Group information meetings are scheduled for Rapid City and Sioux Falls, but individual or phone informational meetings can also be requested. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the 2016 Outstanding Mentors

April 19, 2016

Last week we celebrated mentoring at our annual Mentor Appreciation Breakfast. Read a little bit about the 2016 nominees! Quentin Coulter was named the Outstanding Rookie and Terra Zahn was named the Outstanding Mentor.

Quentin Coulter
Working dads with kids in elementary school are probably the least represented demographic among mentors. Quentin has put his busy schedule aside for one hour a week to make a big difference to a John Harris Elementary student. His student has special needs that cause him to often sit on the sidelines during recess. Having Quentin visit has given this child a little something extra to look forward to each week.

Chandra VanHout
Chandra is described as being consistent, patient and dedicated to her mentee’s success. She is a trained reading specialist who wanted to bring her knowledge to offer a unique opportunity to a child at Robert Frost needing it the most. Chandra has supported her student academically and also has brought a lot of fun in the way of crafts and games that help keep her student engaged in school.

Rachael Weiland
The counselor at Susan B. Anthony says whenever Rachael is in the building you can see how much she enjoys being a mentor. It clearly shows on the face of her mentee. Rachael has a caring and generous heart and has helped out with school supplies to make sure that everyone had what they needed to feel included. Her mentee wants everyone to know that Rachael is “the coolest mentor ever.” Read the rest of this entry »

When things come together…

April 15, 2016

It’s National Volunteer Week and at LSS, we celebrated big! Over 200 volunteer mentors came together on Wednesday morning at The District for us to share our sincere thanks and appreciation for the time they give to local students each week. We always have an Outstanding Mentor Award that we present at this event. This year, the presentation came together in such a cool way that we needed to share it!

First, let’s go back two years to this same event. We put a challenge out to mentors who were at the breakfast in 2014 to give LSS a few names of potential volunteers. We emailed and called the dozens of names that were given and had some success with those folks signing up to mentor themselves. One mentor who was there gave the name of his colleague Terra Zahn and she agreed to volunteer. She was assigned a student at Oscar Howe and here is what has happened since…

Terra’s  willingness to go above and beyond and positive attitude make her a great mentor. She consistently visits with her mentee each week. Her student has stated multiple times that her mentor is her favorite thing about school. A staff member at the school recently said she wished she could have lunch with Terra and her student because “they are always laughing and having fun.” And most importantly, her student says, “She is so much fun. We always play games and do stuff together. She listens to me and cares about me and I can always count on her.”

According to the counselor at Oscar Howe, this student sometimes makes poor choices. To help keep her on track, the school has started an incentive plan. If she reaches her goals related to classroom behavior, she gets a reward. Many students throughout the district have something similar and their rewards are varied. When asked what incentive she would like, Terra’s student said the best thing would be more time with her mentor. The counselor asked Terra is this was possible and she is so committed to making sure her student is the best that she can be, that Terra made it work. So, if this student makes good choices throughout the week, she gets a special five minute phone call with her mentor on Friday afternoons.

We are so pleased when stories like this come together. Someone recruited just the right volunteer and they were matched with just the right student and the result has made an impact on both lives. Terra is just one of the many pretty awesome mentors at LSS! Tune into our posts later this month to learn more about a few other.

Congratulations to Terra and, as we close National Volunteer Week 2016 thanks to everyone who gives their time!


Back: Greg Jasmer presented Terra Zahn (at podium) with the 2016 Outstanding Mentor Award as LSS President & CEO Betty Oldenkamp looks on.

Post by Michelle Madsen

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