When We All Work Together

June 19, 2018

“There is no “us” or “them”. We are different, yes, but in the same way that we are different from anyone else. We have all lived different experiences, and some of us are privileged to have experienced the lives that we have.”—Tea Student 2
The Tea Area High School Spanish instructor, Ms. Mahli Garry, and 6 of her Spanish III students along with students from Mitchell, SD, spent the morning with our students during their English classes. The students had the opportunity to observe and interact with English learners at all levels.
Additionally Ms. Garry and her students had a school-wide fundraiser raising 144 folders, 67 notebooks, 876 erasers, 2957 pencils for the students at LSS. The class who could raise the most had the opportunity to pie their teacher, and Ms. Garry was the honored recipient.


LSS Education Program Assistant Diana Streleck, Tea Area Spanish Instructor Mahli Garry, and Tea Spanish III students with supplies raised for the LSS students.

After visiting LSS, students reflected on their experience. One student (3) said, “The days leading up to the trip I was quite nervous. I had no idea what to expect from these refugees. I honestly didn’t want to go on the trip all together. I felt like I was going to be so out of my comfort zone that it would be ‘painful.’” But now, “This experience will have quite a lasting effect on me. Actually getting to see the refugees and understand the process a refugee must go through to get relocated to a place such as LSS was a very humbling moment.”
Additionally a student commented, “I had many favorite moments during the trip, but I enjoyed hearing about the various cultures. I knew that I was confronting the description of ‘America is a melting pot’ head on.” And yet another student remarked, “Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the students at Lutheran Social Services. I would highly recommend this field trip to other high school students. This was an amazing opportunity to gain a better understanding of our area and the world we live in. With all of the talk in the media, I feel that it is important for students to have the opportunity to form their own opinions of the world and the people that live within it.”


Students from Tea visit one-on-one with LSS English students.

LSS ESL Instructor Supervisor Laura Smith-Hill said, “[The high school] students did a wonderful job interacting with ours and I am so pleased that they continue to find value in this experience as do we.”
This is the third consecutive year that Ms. Garry and her Spanish students have had toured and volunteered in classes as a cross-cultural field trip. A big Thank You Ms. Garry and the Spanish III class for your dedication and continued support.


Memory Keeping is an Ongoing Process

June 18, 2018

Life Book Volunteers

On April 16th and 20th, 2018, LSS Foster Care Services was blessed with 12 volunteers who came together and made over 1,500 Life Book pages for youth in foster care!  Lori Hofer was instrumental in collecting donations, purchasing supplies, and recruiting volunteers to make Life Book pages.  These supplies and pages will be distributed and used by youth, social workers, and foster families throughout the year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Alyssa, Maha and Andrea

June 13, 2018

For the past 10+ years, Alyssa Boscaljon has been a constant presence in the lives of Maha and Andrea, 18 year old twins who just graduated from Washington High School.

Alyssa started mentoring while attending the University of Sioux Falls when the girls were in 2nd grade. Now Andrea and Maha are the ones going off to college. Both girls will attend South Dakota State University in the fall to pursue a Nursing degree.

A passion for medicine runs in their family. Both of their parents were doctors in Nicaragua. When expecting the girls, they were nervous about infant mortality, so they entered a lottery to come to the US. They resettled and the girls were born here – weighing just a few pounds each.

Today, their parents work at John Morrell and there are additional children in the family. Maha and Andrea appreciate what their parents have done for them, but they know that Alyssa has added a lot to their lives, saying, “having a mentor is like having a whole world.” And adding, “she is like our older sister.”

Alyssa has enjoyed being part of the girls lives and says she has continued with them year after year for “too many reasons to count. I always tell them they’ve been a friend to me,” said Alyssa. “It’s a mentors job to impact their life but every time we left a meeting, they impacted me.”

Above all, they have simply had a lot of fun together. A favorite thing to do while part of the LSS USucceed program has been hanging out at The Pancake House. They sit and talk about life – about making friends (Alyssa said that she has seen them blossom with lots of good friends), practicing job interview skills (both girls work — one at Menard’s and another at HyVee) and college.

They have also enjoyed serving the community, and recently joined the USucceed group in volunteering at The Banquet. Both girls really enjoyed that experience.

When looking back to their early years together, Maha and Andrea remember playing monkey tag in elementary school with Alyssa. What they remember the most is that other kids wanted to join and they said NO. They were proud to have her to themselves. They also talked about how Alyssa has changed. She was in undergraduate classes when they first met. She has gone through a college graduation, completing a Master’s degree in Counseling at SDSU and just got married this year. Alyssa said that they have been asking her about getting married since elementary school – and they were so happy when she got engaged.

While graduation will mark an end to their time officially being part of the LSS Mentoring Program, it definitely will not end their relationship. “I hope they find good friends and things that give them joy and happiness when they go off to college,” said Alyssa. “They know that I just want them to be happy.”

Training on Adverse Childhood Experiences

June 8, 2018

Significant experiences in childhood – good and bad – impact a child’s future self. A recent survey completed by the CDC and Kaiser found that two-thirds of children identified at least one adverse experience that caused them significant stress in their life. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) quiz measures abuse, neglect and other characteristics of growing up in uncertainty — things like physical abuse, emotional neglect, family members incarcerated and/or struggling with mental health issues, domestic or substance abuse, and divorce are all potentially adverse experiences.

Research shows the higher the number of adverse experiences one endures in their childhood, the potential for long-term health issues goes up – and ultimately could lead to a shorter life span. However, ACEs don’t have to define a child’s future or potential. The good news in the research is that just one caring and safe relationship with an adult while growing up can mitigate the long term effects.

You are invited to join LSS Mentoring Services in a training about ACEs on June 19, 12-1 PM at LSS, 705 E 41st Street. Amy Witt, LSS Vice President of Children and Youth Services and certified ACEs Master Trainer will present the training. To RSVP, please use email us at Mentoring@LssSD.org or call us at 605-444-7803.

Food – Gotta Have It. Or Do You?

June 7, 2018

Food.  It’s a need.  In all of the classes I have done in which I ask what a need is, food ALWAYS comes up.  There’s never been any debate that food is a need.  Unfortunately, defining a need isn’t always that easy.  Can you live on ramen noodles?  Do you need meat?  Canned or fresh veggies?  Just easier to go out or order in?  We have a lot more choices to make than food just being a need or want.

This week, in two separate classes, I had two different comments from clients that I thought worth sharing.   Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Leona, Amy and Sean

June 1, 2018

This month we are meeting Leona, Amy and Sean. If you attend many of the Better Together monthly events, you have probably seen them. They have been matched for a little over a year and a half. Leona has been living in the Sioux Falls community for 64 years while Amy and Sean are newer to the community. They moved to Sioux Falls only two years ago but they love to be active and always know when the best events in the community are going on!

Amy and Sean decided to apply for Better Together so they could volunteer together and be more active in the community. Another factor in there decision was they didn’t have any extended family members living near them before joining Better Together. Now, they consider Leona to be part of their family. Leona joined Better Together to make new friends and so she had more to do. Leona, Sean and Amy have attended a variety of different activities including: plays, concerts, BINGO, dinners, movies, the circus, Celtic clog dancers, basketball games, and playing board games. Some of their favorite activities are outdoor activities, especially picnics, and seeing Cinderella performed by the Brandon Valley School District. This summer, they are looking forward to getting out and about and enjoying the warmer temps together.

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