Middle School Matters!

February 23, 2017

The middle grades are important predictors of students long-term academic success. If there is a middle school student in your life it is important be aware of school requirements regarding academics as well as programs and services available to students. Mentors who know the answers to academic questions are in a much better position to help direct their student to resources that can help them throughout school and life.

Please join us on Thursday, March 2, 12-1 PM, as we welcome Dr. Sandra Henry to present a training on curriculum standards and requirements. Dr. Henry is the Middle School Curriculum Coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District and a mentor to a middle school student. She will cover what students need to do to succeed as well as give advice on how mentors can help. The training will take place at the LSS State Center, 705 E 41st Street. Please park in the back of the building. The training will take place in a first floor conference room. Please send an email to mentoring@LssSD.org or call 444-7803 to register.

Mortgage Paperwork – Why the Pain?!?

February 20, 2017

Pay stubs.  Tax returns.  Bank statements.  Lists of liabilities and assets.  Credit card statements. Loan documents.  Affidavits.  Investment statements.  Gift letters.  Purchase contract.  Property tax assessments.  Landlord/rental history.  Retirement account statements.  Driver’s license.  Social Security card.  And now that you have submitted all of that, you have to do it all again with updated copies.

As much work as it takes, it’s almost like mortgage lenders don’t really want to give you a loan.  I assure you, that’s not the case…… usually. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks Life 96.5!

February 17, 2017

The LSS Better Together program was blessed to be the Life 96.5 Radio “Hands and Feet” project this shutterstock_371623984February. The station has been encouraging listeners to volunteer – and the results have blown us away! We have received 11 new volunteer applications this month, and we are still anticipating more! For a growing program that currently has 25 active matches, the influx of volunteers is much needed and appreciated.

In addition to listeners committing to a year of participation in Better Together, we have teamed up with the station to hold opportunity to just try out the program. LSS and Life 96.5 are hosting a BINGO Night on Thursday, February 23, 6-7:30 PM at the LSS State Center, 705 E 41st Street. Employees of the station, LSS staff, current Better Together volunteers and participants as well as potential volunteers and older adults in need of a volunteer will gather to learn more about the program and enjoy a few rounds of BINGO. This will be a fun way for older adults and potential volunteers to see if this is the program for them before they commit. We are looking for additional volunteers to attend the BINGO Night. If you are interested, please RSVP by clicking here.

Volunteers in the Better Together program commit to spending four hours per month with an older adult for the purpose of socialization and relationship building. Typical activities include going out for coffee or a meal, running errands or doing fun things like going to a movie or community event. Individuals, couples or families can apply to be matched with a senior.

Learn more about the opportunities to join and who you can serve by clicking here.

Post by Michelle Madsen


February 16, 2017

Okay, so International Interpreters and Translators day/week is actually in September. But I wanted to take time now to say a big THANK YOU to our LSS Interpreter Program for their partnership in the work we do in our LSS Kinship Programs.  We feel fortunate to have the LSS Interpreter Program as one of our LSS programs.  This past year Kinship staff have frequently utilized interpreter services to meet the needs of children and families with whom we work.  Our LSS Interpreters have taken the time to partner with Kinship staff so together we can provide high quality services.

So, a big “shout out” to, LSS Interpreters for:

  • Spending 3 – 4 hours with the Kinship Home study specialists to meet with families so they understand the home study process and so we can obtain the information needed to write a home study
  • Making phone calls to family members to explain the Kinship Home Study and Locator services
  • Helping Kinship Locators contact family members in other countries so children have those connections
  • Being sensitive, kind and caring to the individuals and families we work with – you really help them understand what can seem like a complicated process

And a special Дякую to Galina!  I appreciate all the numerous times you came to my office very early in the morning to do detective work and to make calls to a country in a time zone 8 hours ahead of us.  I appreciate your understanding of that country’s culture and language.  It was truly an adventure and with your assistance and persistence we found a relative and connection for a youth who really needed it.  I couldn’t have done it alone!  You and LSS Interpreter Program are GREAT!!!

For more information regarding LSS Interpreter Services and LSS Kinship Program please visit our website – www.lsssd.org .

And by the way – today please have a Happy National Do a Grouch a Favor Day and National Almond Day!!

Submitted by Dede Mogck, LSS Kinship Program Manager

The Secret to Saving Money

February 9, 2017

What’s probably the top goal that I hear from people?  woman-with-cashThey want to “save money”.  Great….. so what does that mean?  Spend less?  Get better deals?  Oh, no.  They want more money in their savings account.  I suppose you could say they want to be money hoarders.  Now I’m not against having more money in savings, but I think, in most cases, they have the cart before the horse if you will.

So, what’s the one key thing to saving more money?  The real lynch-pin?  The keystone that holds it all up and together?

Spending. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the Match: Dave and Cameron

February 6, 2017

Last year, Celebrate Church put out a strong call to their members to mentor. After hearing how much of an impact a mentoring relationship can have on adults, Dave Hajek thought it would be something he would enjoy.

Dave, who is an evening custodian for the Sioux Falls School District, knew that mentoring would easily fit into his schedule. He has enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Cameron, a 2nd grader at Discovery.

Cameron has loved having a special friend. “I like when we go in the gym and play soccer or hide and seek or sometimes football,” says Cameron.

Dave hoped he would make an impact when he signed up to mentor. He had no idea that he would become attached to Cameron. “He’s a special guy,” says Dave. “He makes me feel young and is definitely worth me investing a little bit of my time.”

In addition to playing in the gym, they have played a number of games. Cameron said that it is “fun and cool and great and awesome” to spend time with a mentor. Cameron loves little surprises too. Whether it is Dave hiding a chocolate in the game box or bringing pizza to celebrate the end of the school year, Cameron knows that Dave is thinking about him and cares.

To keep track of their time together, Dave started a notebook and writes a little bit about each meeting, or has Cameron write a little bit. It is already fun for them to browse through it and recall things they have done this past year. Dave and Cameron hope that they will write many more memories in the book in the years to come.

Here’s To Heather

February 1, 2017

LSS is blessed to have many dedicated long-time employees who believe in the mission and the work that we do. Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare & Education Services, contributed nearly 19 years of service to fulfilling the mission of LSS, and her story is extra special.

Heather DeWit and Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen

Heather DeWit and Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen

Heather’s very first job, while she was still in high school, was with LSS at the Circle of Hope daycare. She later transitioned to start the agency’s first after-school program for school-age kids in partnership with Southern Hills United Methodist Church. That program began with fewer than ten kids in one small room. At the time, LSS did not have a vision that included childcare. Heather created that vision.

Under Heather’s direction, childcare services expanded from one small room to six different locations in Sioux Falls, offering not only after-school services, but also infant-toddler and pre-school services. Last year, these programs provided 17,000 weeks of care for approximately 300 children each day. None of this would have been possible without Heather’s drive, vision and leadership.

Recently, Heather was presented an opportunity to take on the role of Director of Children’s Ministries at her church. The decision to leave her very first employer (19 years later) was difficult to say the least. But, as Heather shared at her farewell party last week:

heatherDr. Seuss said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened!’ But that doesn’t quite cover it for me. I am still smiling because it is still happening and will continue to happen for a very long time.

Because LSS decided to say yes to the dream of After-School and Summer Programs that put kids first, yes to Preschool that prepares children for lifelong learning, and yes to helping infants and toddlers learn and grow with caring adults, we have a new generation of healthy, happy, caring and smart kids that are making the world a better place. I would say that is the definition of still happening. I still can’t believe that I was able to go along on that journey.

So, my smile won’t fade and my role as a cheerleader for LSS won’t either. I am, and will remain, forever thankful to the people who gave me a chance, trusted me and taught me and, of course, thankful to those that are continuing the good work of LSS.

Heather’s supervisor, Vice President of Community Services Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen, said of Heather:

Heather has taught me so much about servant leadership, compassion and faith in our time working together. She has touched the lives of thousands of young people over the years — some of whom later returned to work for our programs. She has taught me to have high expectations for our children, to help bring out their best, and to see them for who they are and the promise they hold for our future.

Join me today in thanking Heather for all that she has done in the last 19 years. We will miss her at LSS, and are happy to see that she has found a new calling. On behalf of all of the children and families for whom you have made a difference, LSS thanks you. 

Thank you, Heather!

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