Volunteer Relationships During Social Distancing

At LSS Mentoring Services, our work to “empower people to succeed by establishing trusting relationships with dvolunteers” is not something that is possible in the formats that we are accustomed to.

We also know that there are urgent needs and many unknowns for people to wrap their heads around. There are many essential services at LSS that are here for people in this time of need. While Mentoring Services may not be top of mind, we are doing the following to help matches get through this time!

If you’re looking for ways to help kids in need and going to school is not an option, being an LSS Climb mentor is a way for you to get involved! The LSS Climb program matches volunteers with kids ages 7-14 with the intent of meeting outside of school. While public meetings are not ideal given the current conditions, matches can still interact using technology – or even via a simple phone call. There are 22 kids waiting for a mentor right now, and still will be waiting this summer.

This program is for high school students and their mentors and allows for meetings in OR out of school. Matches in this program are often communicating via text, phone or social media already. That is just as important now as ever!

We have 21 high school seniors in this program, and our goal is to make those students feel especially positive and celebrated! While this is not the senior year they imagined, the Class of 2020 is one that everyone will remember.

Better Together volunteers are matched with independently living adults aged 65 and up (called neighbors). Across the program, volunteers are helping their match by getting necessary groceries and household goods, allowing this vulnerable population to stay home. Volunteers and staff are calling and checking in often, as we know our older friends are perhaps feeling more isolated now than before. We are able to provide information to Better Together neighbors who do not have the ability or access to online resources. It is amazing what a simple phone call from a Better Together friend can do to lift spirits for both volunteers and neighbors!

This is our school-based mentoring program that serves over 1,200 Sioux Falls area students each week. Since the program is school-based, that means matches are not able to meet when school is not in session. A number of mentors have reached out to ask if they can help their students. While there is not a way to do that now, know that if and when school is resumed, we will do our best to arrange virtual meetings or provide some means for mentors to communicate with their student, even if it is not in person at this time.

Please know that we are accepting applications for new volunteers (we were able to train a few this week!) and have the capability to deliver training via Zoom at this time. Parents are still enrolling their kids in Climb and USucceed, and those that are waiting will be contacted to let them know they have a match! If nothing else, that news alone will give kids hope and something to look forward to. Matches can start communicating in what ever ways feel comfortable when they have completed training and screening. The same goes for older adults waiting for a Better Together volunteer. Lastly, LSS is sending on names and applications of Everyday Heroes mentors to school staff so they can start thinking about potential matches.

To apply for youth mentoring programs, here is the application.

To apply to be a Better Together volunteer, here is the application.


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