June 30, 2017
For more than ten years U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Park Service have partnered to welcome New Americans. Every year dozens of naturalization ceremonies take place in the midst of the scenic landscapes and majestic views of the country’s national parks. And South Dakota is no exception. The ceremonies at the Mount Rushmore National Monument have grown in size, from 60 new citizens in 2007 to 180 in 2017. However, depending on where in the state you live, getting to the ceremony isn’t always that easy. Often money and transportation are major issues. But this year citizenship candidates from Sioux Falls had a smooth ride. Lutheran Social Services’ Center for New Americans was able to charter a bus, made possible through a generous donation from the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mary Chilton Chapter, Sioux Falls. So, on June 15, at 3:15 AM a bus full of tired but excited citizenship candidates with family, friends and CNA staff, including myself, set out across the state to Mount Rushmore. It seemed like a quick ride. The weather was fully cooperating – sunny skies, just a little breeze. The area was bustling with activity. It felt like a mini United Nations. People from over 40 different countries were coming together in this breathtaking scenery under the ‘faces’ in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The sat down on the stone benches of the Amphi Theatre as Green Card holders – and they stood up as new citizens of the United States. They walked across the stage and told us their name, what country they came from and how incredibly proud they were to now be citizens of the United States. And we got on the bus again to start the journey home, again a bus full of tired but excited people. Only now we have a group of New American citizens in our midst.
Written by Silke Hansen, ESL Instructor
June 20, 2017
Year after year, a great volunteer group from CIGNA comes together to make Life book pages for children and youth in foster care. These caring and talented volunteers outdo themselves each year! This year they put together over 1000 pages in one day! That’s right, 1000 pages! Read the rest of this entry »
June 19, 2017
Every year, LSS surveys school counselors in the area about their partnership with LSS Mentoring Services. The results this year were excellent! ALL counselors agreed that mentoring makes an impact at their school – with 93% STRONGLY agreeing that it makes an impact. Here are just of the wonderful things they wrote in the survey:
- The child’s attendance and mood is better on mentor days.
- Mentoring is so beneficial for each student that I have involved in the program. It is so great for students to have a consistent fun time to look forward to, and for a lot of these students, mentoring is that positive future-oriented event in their life that they look forward to.
- The child is happy and bubbly every week of the day their mentor is coming. Before the match, this student did not smile a lot, but now I know I will see her smile at least on mentor days and I even hear her laughing. She loves her mentor who is one of the only positive adults in her life outside of school.
- Students with mentors look forward to coming to school – even when it’s hard or not what they want to do. They seem to brighten up at the attention they receive.
The counselors did have one universal request – more mentors. If you want to get involved with youth and make a difference, please consider mentoring! You can complete an application today.
Thanks to the school counselors for making this partnership work! We look forward to the upcoming school year!
Post by Michelle Madsen
June 16, 2017
Tuesday, June 20th is World Refugee Day – a day set aside to raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. Please join us for an open house at LSS Center for New Americans to learn more about the refugee experience.
June 20th 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
300 E 6th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Walk in the footsteps of refugees and see what they experience as they flee their homes, connect with the United Nations and eventually arrive in the US. Tours of the Center for New Americans will be offered. Local food trucks will be on site to offer food.
Co-hosted with Pax Christi South Dakota, Caminando Juntos, the Multi Cultural Center, Refugee Congress. And special thanks to the local businesses and organizations that are helping at the event.
June 9, 2017
When LSS Mentoring expanded to the Dell Rapids School District in 2011, Jill Hansen was one of the first volunteers to sign up. She attended a Try-It session at the school and was hooked right away.
“My kids were growing up and graduating, so I wanted to still be involved in the school,” said Jill. “This is easy to do and I like that I can have a positive influence on children other than my own. It helps keep me young too!”
Jill has been meeting with Adisen for the past two years. She was matched with her when her first student moved out of the district. Adisen, who is in 6th grade this year has enjoyed having a mentor. “It’s really fun,” said Adisen. “Everyone should have someone to talk to who is not their family or a teacher or counselor.”
The two meet every week and typically play games. They are especially fond of Racko. A time that stands out is when the conference room was in use and they met on the stage. They played tag and had a great time pretending to act and perform. They also did a taste test of Kit-Kat bars – one bought locally and one bought in Canada. They concluded that not all Kit_Kat bars are equal and there is a difference!
Most of all, they both seem to enjoy the conversations. “She is always telling me to never give up and to keep smiling. She is encouraging and tells me to do my best,” said Adisen.
Both Jill and Adisen would like to see more mentor matches in Dell Rapids. “This does not take a lot of time,” said Jill. “You don’t need to be a teacher to be able to relate to kids, you just need to spend time.” And Adisen agrees. As far as student needs go, she said, “You don’t need to have a big problem in life to have a mentor. We could all use someone else to talk to.”
June 8, 2017
As June is National Homeownership Month, we are doing a series of blog posts relating to home ownership. Each will have a different perspective, so stay tuned for more.
First, full disclosure. I teach our homebuyer education course. I have my real estate license. Even though my license is inactive, I am still involved in our local real estate association. I even teach the classes required to get your real estate license. Am I invested in that world? Yes.
I’ve been both a renter and home-owner. I currently own my own home and would have it no other way.
I am a big fan of home ownership. It is no secret.
I’ll also be the first one to tell you that home ownership is NOT for everyone. Read the rest of this entry »