This Is LSS

December 29, 2016

I was hooked on the new TV series This is Us from the first five minutes of the first episode. None of the previews gave me any idea that adoption would be a major theme in the series, and so now every episode has me on the edge of my couch. If you haven’t watched yet but are interested, this is your spoiler alert! You might want to watch first before you read the rest of this blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Resolve to Make A Difference in 2017

December 28, 2016

2017As 2016 draws to a close, many take a moment to reflect and make resolutions to do better in the New Year. Typically weight loss, saving money and staying organized top the lists of what people want to accomplish.

Some people want to improve themselves or make a difference in the new year. But how do you measure quality time with others when often it is not on the daily “to-do” list? Volunteering with Better Together or Everyday Heroes Mentoring may be a way to easily appeal to those who need to check something off a list, make a difference and make a resolution that will last beyond the first of February. Meeting with an older adult or student in need are things that can be scheduled and make a difference at the same time.

January is the perfect time to start either program. Older adults are even more home bound and lonely during the cold winter months. Local students need something to feel hopeful about as they complete their school year.  We recently heard from a volunteer who said, “I was honestly nervous to start this…but now I wish I had done it years ago.  It has truly been such a rewarding experience and I look so forward to our visits every week.  Our time goes fast, but before I leave(my student) always asks me how many days it is until I come back.  The only difficult thing has been me wanting to help more…I know there are many things she needs and I wish I could do more to help her and her siblings.  I really enjoy being a mentor!”

Don’t wait! Apply today.

Post by Michelle Madsen

South Canyon Piecemakers Make Holidays Special for New Alternatives Clients

December 20, 2016

The Piecemakers at South Canyon Lutheran Church are helping make Christmas special for 12 young adults at LSS New Alternatives.  New Alternatives is an LSS program in Rapid City that provides housing, case management, counseling and nursing support to young adults ages 18-21 who are learning to manage severe mental illness. Just like most people in this age group, clients at New Alternatives are  living on their own for the first time in their lives, which can be exciting and challenging.

If you think back to your first apartment, remember how hard it was to give your space a homey feel with limited funds. This time of year it is even tougher because you want to give your home the warmth and coziness that everyone looks forward to with the holidays. When you were first on your own, you may have borrowed things from your parents or even tried to make a floor lamp look like a Christmas tree with some hand me down decorations.

Many clients at New Alternatives spent time in the foster care system or in psychiatric residential treatment centers such as LSS Canyon Hills Center or Summit Oaks. Some have had frequent stays in the state psychiatric hospital.  Almost all have little to no family to support them. They don’t have decorations in storage or the ability to send their Christmas wish list to family. Hand-me-downs to get them started in their own place don’t exist.

LSS works hard to make all apartments feel like a place someone lives, but there just isn’t enough funds available to add all the special touches, especially at Christmas. These young adults, just like you, want to have some of the traditions to make this time of year feel special and memorable. They want to experience the joy and excitement the holidays bring.

That is why the gifts from the Piecemakers play such a tremendous role! The Piecemakers is a group of Rapid City area women, and just one of the great things they do is help the young adults at New Alternatives feel special and remembered.  They donate gifts – including basic household supplies, personal care items, as well as a decorative pillow and unique quilt. Clients will welcome the needed personal care and household supplies and will be thrilled to have a nice pillow and a special quilt to call their own. These gifts will help them give their apartments a more homey feel and help clients feel more independent.

A few clients already have an idea of what’s ahead and have spied the gifts. The sacks are as big as Santa’s bag and when they see them, clients are filled with excitement and anticipation for the holiday. They were touched that this group of local ladies, who they haven’t met, cared enough to make sure that they would have a gift to open on Christmas morning. All of us at New Alternatives and LSS are filled with joy knowing that this holiday season will be made special by the Piecemakers.

Post by Sheila Johnson and Jessica Lillebo

Upping Your Giving Game

December 19, 2016


‘Tis the season, or so the saying goes.  But the season for what?  cash-in-walletDuh, it’s the season of consumerism….. I mean the season for giving.  It’s the time of year when we shop to give gifts to our family, friends, coworkers, teachers, coaches, neighbors, mail carriers, garbage haulers, pizza delivery guys, and anyone else we can possibly think of.  And while we are shopping, there are the other organizations that are asking us to give to them, whether it is for a special project or for one last push to make their annual budget.  After all, giving is a great way to get a tax break, right?  No cash?  That’s ok; they’ll take stock transfers, old vehicles, and even donated real estate if you’d rather.  Man, that’s a lot of giving that is expected of us this time of year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas – What You Might Not Know

December 15, 2016
Christmas gift

Photo courtesy of ChrissyMorin


Christmas – a religious holiday that has been celebrated around the world for hundreds of years. Every year around this time I get questions from my students about Christmas, about how the celebrations started, who decided how to celebrate and many more. This year, I decided to find some answers. Christmas – the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, with all the beautiful decorations, presents under the tree, children waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, large meals shared with family and friends – has a place in everyone’s memory, it’s always been like that, it’s always been there.

Did you know? Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.

Did you know? The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking. In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.


Did you know? Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

Did you know? In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous.

Did you know? In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

Did you know? From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

Did you know? Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

Did you know? The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.

Did you know? Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.santa begging

Did you know? The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.

Did you know? Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

Did you know? Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

Did you know? Christmas 2016 is right around the corner. Only a few more days.


(source: History Channel,, The History of Christmas)

written by Silke Hansen, ESL Instructor

Is It REEEEEALY A Good House?

December 14, 2016


So what is your new year going to look like?  What do you want house-and-coinsto do this year?  Change?  Experience?  Does that list include the purchase of a new home?  Does the enormity of that idea scare the bajeebbas out of you?  Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  After all, how do you know it’s a good home?  Has it been taken care of?  This is a huge purchase and commitment.  How do you know you aren’t getting into a money pit?  There have been at least a couple of funny movies based on that experience.  Is your purchase going to inspire an entirely new episode of comedy?  Possibly…… Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Party Fun!

December 12, 2016

Last week, over 40 USucceed students and mentors came together to celebrate the holiday season. They shared a meal, played BINGO and worked together on a few community service projects. The group made three fleece-tie blankets that were donated to the LSS Foster Care program. They also made dozens of greeting cards that will be sent to pediatric units at hospitals across the country.

Every December, LSS hosts a fun gathering for students and their mentors in USucceed. We always incorporate a service project because 1) kids love doing them and 2) so many don’t get a chance to volunteer outside of their time with their mentor.

img_0195 img_0197The LSS USucceed Program matches volunteers with high school students who commit to meeting four hours per month. They can meet at school or out and about in the community. Many volunteers love the flexibility that this program offers as well as the accompanying events LSS hosts each month that are informative and fun for high school aged youth.

As we head into 2017, there are about a dozen Sioux Falls area high school students who are wanting a mentor. Many students waiting have very little family support and are anxious to connect with a caring mentor as they approach the crossroads of adolescence and adulthood. They are reaching out to improve their life – will you consider reaching your hand back to help them? If you are, please apply today.

Post by Michelle Madsen

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