2016 Founders Family and Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

August 31, 2016
Rev. Dennis and Sandra Ellingsen, LSS Founders Family members

Rev. Dennis and Sandra Ellingsen, new LSS Founders Family members

Each year LSS hosts a Founders Family & Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. During this luncheon we pay special thanks to and welcome the newest members of our Founders Family. The LSS Foundation Founders Family was established in 1994 to honor those who have committed to establishing a lasting legacy with either a significant gift to the LSS Foundation or by planning a gift to LSS beyond their lifetime. This year we are fortunate to have six new members of our legacy community, two of whom were in attendance at the luncheon; Rev. Dennis & Sandra Ellingsen. The Ellingsens received their commemorative Founders Family clock.

Our other newest Founders Family members have chosen to remain anonymous, and will be recognized personally in the coming weeks.

In addition to honoring all of the LSS Founders Family members, special recognition was given to our Distinguished Partners and Volunteers.

Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Distinguished Corporate Partner of the Year. Janet Brekke, Chair of the Community Appeals Committee; Evan Nolte, President/CEO; Paul Bruflat, Chair of the Board.

Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Distinguished Corporate Partner of the Year. Pictured: Betty Oldenkamp, LSS President/CEO; Bill Peterson, LSS Vice President Development & Foundation; representing the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Janet Brekke, Chair of the Community Appeals Committee; Evan Nolte, President/CEO; Paul Bruflat, Chair of the Board.

Our 2016 Distinguished Corporate Partner of the Year award went to the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. LSS has been a member of the Chamber of 1985. During those 30 years, the Chamber has twice supported LSS capital campaign requests and efforts. The first came in 2005, when the Changing Childrens Lives Campaign was approved, allowing LSS to build the Center for Children and Youth in Sioux Falls.

The second came in 2014 when the Chamber approved the LSS capital campaign request for the current Campus on East Bank Campaign. The Chamber has helped support LSS through a variety of means for this campaign, including press releases, kickoff events, and stories in their monthly publication and website. More importantly, more than 90 Chamber members have volunteered to make solicitations for our campaign.

Accepting the award of Distinguished Corporate Partner of the Year on behalf of the Chamber were Evan Nolte, President/CEO, Janet Brekke, owner of Honey Baked Ham who is Chair of the Chamber’s Community Appeals Committee, Paul Bruflat, Chair of the Board, Mark Lee, Public Affairs & Communications Director, and Mike Lynch, Public Affairs & Research Manager.

Stacy Trove, Distinguished Volunteer of the Year. Shay Knutson, Stacy Trove and Sharon Knutson.

Stacy Trove, Distinguished Volunteer of the Year. Pictured: Shay Knutson, Stacy Trove and Sharon Knutson.

The Distinguished Volunteer of the Year award went to Stacy Trove, one of more than 1,200 individuals who volunteer their time and energy for LSS Mentoring Services. She has faithfully mentored Shay Knutson since 2005. Stacy has been a responsive mentor and participated in additional programming when she could. Through elementary and middle school, they were active in the Enhanced Mentor Program, and during Shay’s high school years, they participated in USucceed. Stacy also served on the LSS Mentor Advisory Committee.

More than anything, Stacy has been a loving friend to Shay. Their relationship won’t ever end, but the mentor/student titles ended when Shay graduated from Washington last June. Everyone at LSS Mentoring Services is proud of Shay for earning a coveted Build Dakota scholarship. Even though Shay is graduating this is not good bye to LSS.

The BEST part of Stacy and Shay’s story is that they hope to co-mentor an elementary aged student next year! Stacy says she can’t imagine mentoring without Shay being part of it.

Distinguished Congregational Partner Award of the Year went to Zion Lutheran Church in Aberdeen. Rev. Erin Heidelberger, Associate Pastor at Zion Lutheran, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation.

Zion Lutheran Church, Aberdeen, Distinguished Congregational Partner of the Year. Accepting on behalf of Zion Lutheran Rev. Erin Heidelberger, Associate Pastor. Also pictured Liesl Hovel, LSS Northeast Regional Director.

The Distinguished Congregational Partner of the Year award went to Zion Lutheran Church in Aberdeen. Rev. Erin Heidelberger, Associate Pastor at Zion Lutheran, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation.

Zion Lutheran has been involved with LSS for many years in many ways. The congregation has provided the location for the LSS Northeast Benefit Dinners whenever it was needed. Pastor Marcia Sylvester, Zion’s Senior Pastor, served on the LSS Board of Directors from 2005-2014. Zion Lutheran has volunteered their church to be a Disaster Evacuation Site for New Beginnings Center should the need arise. Pastor Marcia has taken the lead in coordinating the New Americans Task Force in the Aberdeen area since March, and the church council at Zion Lutheran has supported this process.

Zion Lutheran has been willing to advocate about LSS services such as Counseling Services in the Aberdeen area, the Center for Financial Resources, Kinship Services, Disaster Response Services and the Center for New Americans, staying true to their Mission Statement: Rooted in Faith * Growing in Spirit * Reaching Out to Those in Need.

We are blessed by those who give up of their time, their energy and resources to ensure that the ministry of LSS is truly a ministry of presence. Please join us in honoring our newest Founders Family members and Distinguished Partners and Volunteers!

Linda Jensen, Church Relations and Planned Giving Development Officer
LSS Development & Foundation

Who is Waiting?

August 29, 2016

Several area schools started last week and students in the Sioux Falls district will return next Tuesday. Inevitably, in the coming weeks counselors will have students ask if they can have a mentor. And counselors will need to tell those students that they don’t have anyone available. Here’s a little bit about students we know who will be in need of a mentor this year. We asked counselors last spring to tell us about their wait list. Here it is:

  • A 4th grade boy that is having a hard time making friends.  He would love to have someone to talk to and play games with each week.
  • A 2nd grade girl that is very shy and does not speak up in class, she could use someone to meet with one on one to practice her English.
  • An elementary school aged girl who is in her first two years in the country could benefit from someone to practice speaking English with.
  • A new student who has moved across the country during the middle of the school year and has a stress as his family gets settled here.
  • A 7th grader was mentored by a college student last year. The mentor is not able to return due to scheduling conflicts. The student has grown to really love this one on one time with an adult – it would be great if a community mentor was available to help them out!
  • An elementary aged boy whose confidence has been shaken by a mean thing his classmate said and needs to have another caring adult to speak kind words into his life.
  • A 1st grade ELL student doesn’t know how to play all of the board games that his peers have been playing since they were much younger. He needs someone to teach him how to play so that he can be social with his peers during indoor recess and free time.
  • A 6th grade girl loves to laugh and talk but doesn’t get enough time with the adults in her life.  A mentor could help give her that special adult attention she craves.
  • A smart and musically talented 6th grade girl could use some support to come out her shell.  A mentor could give her a chance to connect with someone.
  • An athletic and well-liked 6th grade boy struggles in school.  He could use another adult in his life to support him as we works to focus on school.
  • An elementary aged boy who could use a male mentor to provide positive influence and accountability.
  • There is a 4th grade boy who just needs someone to be there for him and he is open to doing any activity.
  • I had a long parent meeting with a new family.  Mom was so excited to hear about the mentor program. She was hoping to have her daughter matched with a mentor to help give stability.
  • A 3rd grader who is not reading quite at grade level could use someone to help build their skills each week.
  • A 6th grade boy that is struggling to adjust to middle school.

While they are all very different, the students above all have one thing in common – they are waiting on YOU. Can you help us out by volunteering to mentor this year? The kids listed above will become such an important part of your life! They will leave you wondering why you did not start sooner. The application can be found here. Apply today and get started in early October and enjoy this school year through the eyes of your student.

What it takes to be a citizen!

August 25, 2016

Early on Saturday mornings, something special takes place at the Center for New Americans. As soon as the doors open, about 100 adult students show up, eager, happy, and ready to work.  There are always lots of smiles and laughter, but the students come for some very serious work. saturday citizenship class

All of these students are refugees and immigrants who have lived in the United States for the past year or more, and now they want the opportunity to become citizens of this country where they have felt welcomed and secure, raised their families, paid taxes, and grown to love. These super dedicated students take time out of their lives, their work schedules, their families, to come and learn about U.S. history, U.S. civics, and U.S. geography.  Students learn how to read and write English and build confidence in their listening and speaking skills. They faithfully come to Citizenship class every weekend, because they all share the hope and dream of becoming a citizen themselves…some day!

What does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?

The U.S. naturalization process is an expensive and difficult process. Candidates for naturalization need to undergo and pass an intensive interview in English.

Candidates must then undergo an oral examination on US history and government where they must listen to and correctly answer six out ten questions that are randomly chosen out of 100 possible civics, history, and geography questions. Would you pass? The USCIS has an online practice test: https://my.uscis.gov/prep/test/civics

Finally candidates are required to demonstrate their English reading and writing ability. Candidates must pass all three exams before being recommended for citizenship (naturalization).

Want to be a citizenship classroom volunteer?

Contact Kristyne.Walth@lsssd.org.

Need free citizenship classes?

Call 731-2000 to schedule an enrollment appointment for the next class session.

Want help filling out the “citizenship application” or N-400?

Call 731-2000 to schedule an appointment with an immigration attorney for a reduced or free rates.

Want to know more about the process of becoming a citizen?

Visit the USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/ for details.

Written by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor

Top Ten Reasons to Mentor

August 23, 2016

LSS Mentors are Everyday Heroes for more than 1,200 area young people. But with hundreds of kids on the waiting list, that’s not enough for every student that needs one. Spend one hour with one student once a week and you will experience the power of mentoring! Here are ten reasons to get started this school year.

10. The Need. Just like we said above, there are hundreds of kids waiting. And we know you can’t mentor 100, but you CAN mentor one. All area schools would welcome a new mentor, but a few that are especially in need are Edison, Hawthorne, Terry Redlin, Lowell, Horace Mann, Cleveland, Memorial, Axtell Park, Oscar Howe…the list goes on.

9. Personal Growth. Almost every mentor has said they have learned something new by mentoring. Whether it is learning about Pokemon or learning about the impact of poverty, mentors say they come away a better person.

8. Teach a Child New Things. In addition to learning things for yourself, you have the opportunity to teach a child. Mentors have taught kids how to shoot a basket, how to tie their shoes, helped with reading instruction, table manners, problem solving skills, how to be a good friend, organizational skills and more. These are skills that students take with them the rest of their life, and you were there to help.

7. It is FUN! Yes, mentoring is an investment of time and heart, but it can be fun! On your way back to work, you will catch yourself giggling at something your student said or did. Mentoring can provide the perfect break in your workday too. Who doesn’t want to play kickball or just take a break to color once a week?

6. Connect with Today’s Youth. Don’t have a negative attitude about “kid’s today” if you don’t know any! Yes, they make mistakes (just like we did when we were young). Yes, they have a lot of screens and technology to occupy their time. But there are some things that have changed. Heather from LSS Childcare recently wrote that today’s kids are more inclusive than ever and love to serve.

5. Get Involved in Your Community. South Dakotans are active in giving back to their communities. The most recent data shows that 34.1% of adults in our state volunteer, ranking 9th in the nation. Comparatively, we are doing well but there are still more people who don’t volunteer than do. Many who mentor are also active volunteers in other capacities. We would love for students to see their mentors reflect the community as a whole – not just the 34% who volunteer.

4. Meet a New Friend. When students who have a mentor are asked what it’s like to be part of the program, they just say that their mentor is just an older friend. That’s all it is.

3. Help a Student Improve Their Self-Esteem. 78% of mentors saw a noticeable positive change in their students self-esteem and confidence. In other words, an overwhelming majority feel better about themselves because they know someone cares enough to mentor them.

2. Gain New Perspective. One thing we can almost guarantee is that your student is walking a different path than you did as a child. Or even one that you helped lay out for your own children. Instead of judging or feeling pity for someone who is different, use mentoring as an opportunity to learn more about their life.

1. Potential to Change A Life…A Young Persons and Your Own. Really, is there anything better?

Don’t wait! Apply today!

“My parents are my parents and that’s it.” – Simone Biles

August 22, 2016

Whenever the topic of adoption is brought to the attention of the media as it was last week during the Olympics, we feel it is a good time to talk about adoption terminology, and the negative effects using the wrong words can have on adoptees. Read the rest of this entry »

Exuberant and Curious

August 18, 2016

Brigita, a 5th grader at Harrisburg Liberty Elementary describes her mentor Gabe as “fun and creative.” And within minutes of meeting them, it is easy to see that creativity is what this match is all about! Paper quilling, zentangles, origami, paper marbling and researching opals are just a few things they have done together.

Gabe, who has mentored six years, got her start after attending a Mentor Try-It session. She had just moved to Harrisburg and wanted to do something to give back to her community. “I enjoy the time each week,” said Gabe. “I work in education and like working with kids. Mentoring is a fun way to do both.”

Brigita says that Gabe is “just an older friend.” She also says, “mentoring is something different to do. Sometimes recess can be boring.”

Gabe described Brigita as “exuberant and curious” and feels like she has a great student to meet with each week. “It’s great that we have similar interests but are still able to introduce each other to new things.”

Do you want to meet a sweet girl like Brigita this year? Sign up to be a mentor here.

Doing Good on the Green

August 17, 2016

LSS Watertown Golf Tournament 2016 – Thank You!

Our 6th Annual LSS Watertown Golf Tournament and Dinner event held Monday, August 1, 2016, was a success with 80 golfers participating. Hosting this event required help from so many, and we are grateful to them all. We want to extend a special Thank You and Recognition of Commitment to Dale McElhany, David Johnson, Levi Pearson and all the staff at Reliabank. Their vision and commitment to serving the people in Watertown and area communities as well as LSS is commendable. We especially thank the sponsors below for their generous contributions.

Hole Sponsors
Dennis & Shirley Larson
Clark County Chapter of Thrivent Financial
First Premier Bank
Prairie Lakes Healthcare System
Sharp Automotive
Diamond Realty
Great Western Bank
First Bank & Trust
Aason Engineering
KWAT Radio
KXLG Radio
Macksteel Warehouse
Citi-Wide Property Management

Team Sponsors
Dennis & Shirley Larson
Diamond Realty
First Premier Bank
Great Western Bank
KWAT Radio
KXLG Radio
Larry’s Lumber
Malchows Home Furnishings
Olsen Striptill
Roy’s Sport Shop
Sharp Automotive
Clark County Chapter of Thrivent Financial

Award Sponsors
KWAT Radio
Anytime Fitness
Bramble Park Zoo
Caribou Coffee
Cattail Crossing Golf Course
Dagwood’s Deli & Sub Shop
Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel
Days Inn
Dempsey’s Brewery Pub & Restaurant
Dorales Footwear & Fashions
Dutch Boy Car Wash
Expressions Gallery/Knit Nook
Five Loaves Bakery
Gas N Goodies, Inc.
Glacial Lakes Harley-Davidson
Hampton Inn & Suites Watertown
Hedahls Auto Plus
Kampeska Lodge & Store
Lunkers Restaurant
Lutheran Social Services
Mahowald’s Hardware & Rental
Mainstream Boutique
Mr. T’s Sports Bar & Grill
Oscar Nails & Spa
Pizza Ranch
Proud Angler Bait Shop
Riddle’s Jewelry
Rue 21
Senor Max’s
Slumberland Furniture
The Watertown Event Center
Willy’s Sports Bar, Grille & Casino
Woody’s Sports Bar


Liesl Hovel, Northeast Regional Director
LSS Development & Foundation

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