To Give or Not To Give, That Is The Question

July 23, 2018

I have a problem.  It’s nothing new.  It’s been that way for a long, long time.  It definitely impacts my life daily.  At first glance, most would only see it as a definite positive.  But it does create some fallout as well.  And now, it appears that it may not entirely be my fault.  It may be, at least in part, due to my surroundings and what I have been exposed to.  You see, my problem is that I have a very hard time saying “No”.

And I’ll follow that with “But it’s not my fault!”  Or…… at least…… maybe not entirely my fault. Read the rest of this entry »

Mount Rushmore Ceremony Brings Hope to Sioux Falls Refugees

July 20, 2018

Mount Rushmore, June 14, 2018, a majestic view for a remarkable day

Flag Day, June 14, 2018, was a joyous occasion for many refugees and immigrants from South Dakota. The day itself was beautiful, sunshiny, and a wonderful welcome for the 168 new citizens who participated in the naturalization ceremony at Mount Rushmore.


New Citizens of the United States take the Oath of Allegiance during their Naturalization Ceremony

Forty-one countries were represented at the ceremony, including American Samoa, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, India, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

Presiding over the ceremony, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken, expressed, “What you have done by choosing to become citizens is to enrich and strengthen all of us. And now we are one. Welcome home.”


Prithi and Ninga Tamang at Naturalization Ceremony

Several students of the Center for New Americans, among them were students Prithi and Ninga Tamang, from Bhutan, their son, and daughter-in-law. After becoming a citizen, Ninga says, “I love America and everything about here! Being American citizen gives us hope of bright future and life long satisfaction. Because once we were refugee and lost hope of better life but now everything seems all right and happier than before. I got opportunity to see different country, people and experience their beautiful culture. My children have excellent life here.”  During the ceremony, their son expressed his appreciation, “I am a refugee, and actually I never had citizenship.  This is my first time.  I’m very proud.  Thank you America!”


A very happy student Ty Nguon poses in front of Mount Rushmore with his citizenship certificate

LSS Citizenship Instructor John Haraldson commented, “It gives them hope because they feel like they are a part of the country they are living in. They feel like they are safe and more connected to America. For some students, it is their first time ever having citizenship anywhere. It is very special for them.”


Presentation of the Colors at the 2018 Mount Rushmore Naturalization Ceremony

Also among the new citizens was former LSS instructor, Kristin Kuchenbecker. After the ceremony, she commented that it was a “great day for all 168 of us. All people sworn in today had remarkable stories.” Like many new Americans, she says that her reasons for becoming a United States citizen was multi-fold, but she is definitely looking forward to participating in our democracy instead of only talking about it. Kristin says, “There is no place like [the United States] in terms of diversity and that should be celebrated daily!”


Magistrate Judge Wollman, Kristin Kuckenbecker, and Chief Judge Viken


As we celebrate freedom this month, we are happy to welcome all our new citizens and hope for a great future for them!

Written by Heather Glidewell, LSS ESL and Citizenship Instructor

Better Together Match: Michelle and Nancy

July 19, 2018

Michelle and Nancy have been matched for a little over a year in the LSS Better Together e2af2a9d-49b5-4598-b006-c27731639fe3program. Both are relatively familiar with the Sioux Falls area, but are newcomers. Michelle has been living in the Sioux Falls area for about two years. She moved here, with her family, from Madison, SD. Nancy moved back to Sioux Falls two years ago from Arizona. Prior to living in Arizona, she was living in Sioux Falls.

Both Nancy and Michelle wanted someone to spend time with when they joined Better Together. One day at coffee, Nancy was complaining about being bored, so one of her neighbors suggested she join Better Together. Michelle decided to volunteer in Better Together because her parents and grandparents are no longer around and she was really missing that type of relationship.

Together, Nancy and Michelle have attended LSS Bingo, shopped for groceries and have attended some medical appointments. However, their favorite activities are simply visiting with one another and working through a Bible study. Nancy and Michelle discovered they both had interest in the Bible so they decided to embark on an audio Bible study which focuses on the book of Colossians. They are 20 weeks in and have eight CDs left!

Nancy enjoys Better Together because it helps break up her week but more importantly, she has grown to cherish the friendship she and Michelle have developed. Because Nancy and Michelle have been through similar life experiences, Michelle really values their weekly visits. Both have come to count on their time together and look forward to continue meeting this summer.

If you are interested in volunteering with Better Together, please apply today! There are older adults in the Sioux Falls area who are waiting for someone like you.

Post by Amy Feterl, LSS Better Together Coordinator

On Death & Taxes (mostly property taxes)

July 17, 2018

Uncle SamDeath and taxes – the only two things that are guaranteed in life.  Or so the saying goes.  I’m no expert on what happens around the world, but I do keep a bit of awareness on how it works here in the good old US of A.  Did you know that if your home gets foreclosed, tax debt jumps to the front of the line to get paid from the sheriff’s sale?  Did you know that most tax debt won’t go away in bankruptcy?

If you live within the boundaries of the Sioux Falls School district, did you know they just approved a property tax increase for the next budget year?  It went up an astonishing .011 mil for non-agricultural owner-occupied property!  Can you believe it?!?  .011 MIL!!!!

Wait.  What’s a mil?  No, it’s not a million.  Or even a mill, like where you grind grain into flour. Read the rest of this entry »

Pregnancy Counseling

July 16, 2018

When facing an unexpected pregnancy, you might get a lot of advice on parenting or suggestions of looking at adoption. But where can you go to get unbiased help? Contact LSS because LSS pregnancy counseling is FREE, you don’t have to choose adoption, and outreach services are available throughout South Dakota. Read the rest of this entry »

Hope for the Future (Citizenship Classes)

July 10, 2018
Statue of Liberty

photo courtesy of sharemomentssharelife

On July 4, 1776 marked the adoption of the Declaration of Independence which declared the United States of America a new country free from foreign rule and it marked an important event during the American Revolutionary War. In addition it stated that those who chose to live as citizens in this new country had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As a native born citizen, I have always felt a connection to July 4. Not only was I born in 1976, the bicentennial of our country, I even have a nephew who was born on July 4. However, the biggest connection is that I, like many Americans, believe in the hope that comes with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and I find it a wonderful privilege to teach citizenship classes to students at the Center for New Americans. Four times a week I am greeted with eager, hopeful students who wish to learn and become a citizen.
Luida and her husband are a couple of the students who attended Citizenship classes at CNA. On July 2 Luida passed her Citizenship interview, an essential step in fulfilling the hope to be a citizen of the United States. Luida was so excited that she brought a beautiful Ukrainian Honey Cake as a thank you and in celebration of the Fourth of July, which has taken on even more meaning for her and her family now.

Luida's cake

Another student, Mar, also just recently passed her interview and is excitedly waiting for her ceremony in August. Mar says that she did not learn to read or write English until she came to the United States. She is so very thankful for the intelligent, caring teachers at LSS that have helped her achieve her goals of learning English and becoming a citizen. She says, “LSS teachers are smart, now I am smart. I am so happy! I can’t believe it!”
LSS provides citizenship classes to immigrants and refugees that qualify to apply for citizenship. Currently the Center for New Americans is serving approximately 200 students who diligently come to evening, early morning, or weekend classes.
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 U.S. history and government where they must listen to and correctly answer six out of ten questions that are randomly chosen from 100 possible civics, history, and geography questions.

Would you pass?

The USCIS has an online practice test:
Finally candidates are required to demonstrate their English reading and writing ability. Candidates must pass all three exams before being recommended for citizenship (naturalization).

For Free Citizenship Classes starting in July 2018:
You can receive free citizenship classes if you bring your green card. LSS will be enrolling new students the evening of July 12 and the morning of July 28 for citizenship classes. Call 731-2000 to schedule an enrollment appointment for the next class session.
To be a Citizenship Class or ESL Class volunteer: Contact Kristyne Duffy at
Want help filling out the “citizenship application” or N-400?
Call 731-2000 to schedule an appointment with an immigration attorney for reduced or free rates.
Want to know more about the process of becoming a citizen?
Visit the USCIS website for details.


Written by Heather Glidewell, ESL and Citizenship Instructor

Cathy, Skylar and Rachel

July 6, 2018

In April, LSS awarded the 2018 Sanford Outstanding Rookie Mentor Award to Cathy Zerfas. Cathy, a retired teacher, was so excited and honored to receive the nomination and award! She has been an amazing mentor to two students at Harrisburg Liberty Elementary. Here are a few things people had to say about Cathy:

Jennifer Van’t Hul, School Counselor: “Cathy is a loyal mentor that goes above and beyond to support her students. She came to our try-it event and her big heart could not turn away either one of the girls she met. Cathy comes with a smile and enthusiasm twice a week so each girl gets her individual time. These girls needed a little extra attention at school and Cathy bring them that care they need to feel more confident throughout their day. That is why the girls look forward to seeing her each week!”

Skylar: “She’s really kind, sweet and really generous. Even if it’s not the best day she can cheer you up.”

Rachel (who Cathy describes as talking with her whole body): “She’s the best mentor in the whole world!”

If you want to know more about her, please take a  few minutes to watch this video of Skylar and Rachel talking about Cathy. It is great!

rookie video preview

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