One Night Makes All the Difference

April 12, 2017
Dueling Duo Pianos Show with/Dan Witte

Dueling Duo Pianos Show with/Dan Witte

Would you like to enjoy a fun-filled Saturday evening and support a great organization and a wonderful cause? If the answer is yes then please join Lutheran Social Services in Aberdeen for its annual benefit dinner and performance of Dueling Duo Pianos Show! This annual event goes to support the following programs in the Aberdeen area. Your attendance will help make a difference in many lives in the Aberdeen area.

  • Counseling Services
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Center for Financial Resources
  • Adoption Services
  • Pregnancy Counseling
  • Foster Care
  • Kinship Services
  • Residential Services for Children & Youth – New Beginnings Center
  • Disaster Response
  • Community Resource Program
  • Center for New Americans

The annual LSS Benefit Dinner will be held on:

Saturday, April 29, 2017
Silent Auction begins at 5 pm
Dinner and Program at 6 pm
Dueling Duo Pianos Show with/Dan Witte begins at 8 pm
The Ward Plaza Downtown Event Center
104 South Main Street, Aberdeen, SD

Ticket Information
Dinner Ticket: $12 each
Dueling Duo Piano Ticket: $20 each
Dinner & Dueling Duo Pianos Package: $30 each
Gifts & Pledges for LSS will be requested at the event.

Please RSVP  by calling Liesl Hovel at 605-262-6301, or by emailing Liesl.Hovel@LssSD.org by Friday, April 21. Click here to RSVP online.

Please join us April 29 to have some fun and help LSS strengthen individuals, families and Aberdeen area communities.

Liesl Hovel, Development Director, Northeast Region
LSS Development & Foundation


Time for a Change

April 7, 2017

Spring is in the air! This morning I saw a bird singing on the parking ramp railing, and I even dared to wear sandals and capris this week.  Everywhere I look there is green grass poking up and any trace of snow has disappeared.  It’s certainly a time for renewing and growing.

Boxes, chairs, and tables ready for the big move to East Bank

 

With that being said, LSS Center for New Americans has been very busy this week packing for our move to the Campus on East Bank. After waiting, talking, touring, and waiting some more, it seems surreal to be packing up everything and moving into our new building.  Teachers and students alike are excited about the move.  For months students have been asking about the new building, and are so very eager to start this new chapter in their lives. Many students are happy about the little things (or maybe they are the big things) that will come with the new building such as a parking lot and a nearby bus stop.  Teachers are excited to have permanent classrooms and a place to call “ours.”

 

It is of course bittersweet to be leaving the building we have occupied for the past three years. I found I was a little teary eyed on Tuesday as we held our last classes in the “old school.”  However, my students were very happy to hear that the tables, the chairs, and (most importantly) the teachers, would be moving to the new school and would be greeting them when English class starts again.

Boxes and boxes all ready to go

 

Stacks of packed boxes and empty rooms greet us now, but soon we will be unpacking again and setting up new classrooms. It is time for our new journey to begin.  So this week, we are dreaming of the changes about to come…new building, new classrooms, new experiences…and it feels quite appropriate that spring is here now.

Posted by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor


LSS Teacher Receives National Recognition

March 28, 2017

Our own teacher, Silke Hansen, formerly recognized as teacher of the year through the South Dakota Association for Lifelong Learning (SDALL), recently received national recognition as an outstanding instructor. Please see the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) press release below for full details about this prestigious award.


Silke Hansen, LSS ESL Instructor

COABE Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award Runner-Up: Silke Hansen

Lutheran Social Services—Center for New Americans

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) is 15,000 members strong and growing, and provides a variety of services including annually providing competitive national-level awards, incentive grants, and scholarship opportunities through special funding provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Our mission is to inspire educators so adults succeed and communities thrive. COABE exists to provide leadership, communication, professional development, and advocacy for adult education and literacy practitioners in order to advance quality services for all adult learners. Fifteen thousand members strong, one way that we engage in these activities is by spotlighting excellence in the field. Silke Hansen was nominated for COABE’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award and was selected as a runner-up.

Silke Hansen is an excellent, dedicated, and seasoned veteran teacher, having taught in adult basic education for over 11 years. Her teaching duties reach well beyond the classroom. Whenever there is a function of any kind, whether it is the annual student-teacher picnic, yearly LSS fundraiser, The Closer Connections Conference, conference presentations, or welcoming new refugees to LSS, Silke is sure to volunteer and take on considerable responsibilities. Silke’s key role among the staff might be guessed by the position of her work cubicle in the teachers’ room—it is the first cubicle seen upon entering the room, an assignment that the coordinator, Laura, admits was a conscious placement. This crucial location puts Silke where she can assist teachers and students alike who are looking for some help or advice. Silke knows where everything is stored, students’ names (past and present) and what needs to be done in almost any situation practically without fail! She has built so many strong relationships with her students, not only in their classroom endeavors, but also in the greater Sioux Falls area. She has served on the board of directors of two refugee organizations in Sioux Falls: The Khor Wakow School Project headed by South Sudan refugee and past “Lost Boy” David Jal, and the Refugee and Immigrant Women’s Association, an organization that seeks to empower refugee and immigrant women in the community and provide a networking base for its members. Together, these activities and Silke’s level of commitment reflect the kind of dedication to students that her coworkers admire and her students gratefully love. They know that Silke really cares for them as people and friends, stands with them, and will support them. During all her years at LSS, it’s clear that Silke has done whatever she could, both inside and outside the classroom to help her students find meaningful successes in their adopted country. The South Dakota state organization has seen her commitment to excellence and chose her to represent their state for the COABE Teacher of the Year Award.

 

To learn more about COABE’s prestigious award program, go to http://www.coabe.org or contact awards@coabe.org.

 

Posted by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor


Adult English Learners from Fourteen Nations Visit the South Dakota Capital

March 22, 2017

Students and government officials pose for picture inside the capital building

 

53 adult English language learners from the LSS Center for New Americans had the privilege of visiting South Dakota’s capitol this month. This is such an exciting opportunity for our students that we received 100 applications for these 53 seats.

These 53 learners are from 14 different countries: Burma, Guatemala, China, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Bhutan/Nepal, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Mexico and El Salvador.

About 60% of these LSS adult learners came to the US with refugee status. About 40% came as immigrants.

The goals of these learners are:

  • To become self sufficient communicators in English
  • To get jobs and advance to higher education and training
  • To become United States Citizens

 

This civics education field trip was sponsored by the Department of Labor and Regulation. The Department partners with the LSS Center for New Americans to provide adult education and literacy services in the Sioux Falls community.

The learners visited with legislators, toured the capital building, observed proceedings in the house and senate chambers and visited the Cultural Heritage Center.

On the Steps of the South Dakota Capital Building

 

Touring the Cultural Heritage Center

Having fled the impacts of persecution and injustice, the adult learners deeply treasure the freedoms and democracy of this great nation and the great state of South Dakota. It is, in fact, a dream come true for them to visit our state capitol. They are grateful to be residents of South Dakota, to have the opportunity to raise their families, work and contribute to a safe and welcoming new home.

written by Laura Smith-Hill, Education Program Coordinator


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!


Inspiring Stories

January 27, 2017

Asnows teachers, we are sometimes privileged to get to know our students beyond the classroom. And when that happens, we can’t help but feel inspired by the stories we hear.

Laura Smith-Hill, the director of the Education Program here at LSS, recently shared with me two inspiring stories from our students enrolled in Citizenship Class, and I’d like to share them with you.

Laura speaks of a middle-aged woman from China who has lived in the U.S. for about 20 years. Laura explains, “She opens and closes her department at work, putting in 12-hour days. She is a star worker for her employer, and might have been promoted to manager, but her literacy and computer skills were lacking. At the end of the day, she comes home and scoops her sidewalks. On her day off, she exercises because she knows she needs to be strong.”

And the story continues, “She lives alone and emphasized, ‘I try to do everything myself, because I have to pull myself up.’ She didn’t seem to know the rest of the American idiom, ‘… by her own bootstraps,’ but I knew what she meant. She takes great pride in her son, who finished college and is working in New York City. He told her, ‘Mom, you can’t go back to China. This is your home. You have to become a citizen.’ She echoed to me, ‘I love America; I need to stay in this country.’ So on her days off, she comes to our Saturday Citizenship Class to learn to read and write for civic engagement and in order to become a U.S. citizen.”

Laura said this woman reminds her of “how hard all our ancestors had to work to make their way as first generation immigrants in our ‘land of opportunity.’ That opportunity doesn’t come easily to any first generation immigrant; they work hard for it to pave the way for their children and their children’s children.”

Yet another student Laura speaks of is a young man from Iraq who successfully completed the education program here at LSS, received his high school diploma and finished his job training. Today he speaks excellent English and works in one of South Dakota’s high-demand occupations – welding.

As he copes with daily worries for the safety of his parents and siblings back home, he hopes to become a U.S. citizen so he can bring his family to the U.S. for refuge.

Laura explained, “This man finds freedom of religion in the U.S. that his family can only dream of. He believes his purpose in life is to help other people. He shared with me that he didn’t know how he could be a help to people here in America. When I told him about volunteer opportunities at our center and how he could apply to mentor other families who are new to America, he decided to put in his application. The next time I saw him, he walked into the lobby and said, ‘Ahh, LSS is my home.’ He explained that LSS was the first place he came when he arrived in America and everyone here helped him start a new life.”

Laura said these two students are indicative of the immigrants she meets and works with on a daily basis.

“These two clients are gracious, thoughtful, generous. They are unafraid of hard-work and strive for the good of their families. They are ready to help people around them who are in need. They are stronger for the barriers they face and barriers they have already overcome. They are much like you and me. These qualities are a part of what makes our nation great,” Laura explained.

It is easy to hear the news on TV and the radio and feel afraid of newcomers. But what we see here at LSS, where we work daily with immigrants and refugees, is nothing like what one might hear in the news. What we experience here belies the news coverage. What we experience here are individuals with individual stories and experiences that would make any American with a history of immigration proud, and, of course, that is almost every American. : )

I personally find it a true privilege to work with these newcomers. If you, too, want to be inspired by their perseverance, hard work, generosity, and kindness, we are always welcoming new volunteers. We can use you in English, job training, and Citizenship classes. Your choice. Contact Kristyne Walth at 731-2009 or email her at kristyne.walth@lsssd.org to learn how you can join our volunteer program.

Have an inspirational day! : )

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson


Please Join Us for the 22nd Annual Taste of Cultures Dinner and Silent Auction Event!

January 17, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017  6:30 pm

The District, Sioux Falls

toc-square

Celebrate the diversity of our community with your support of LSS in raising funds to assist newcomers to resettle. Proceeds help to purchase groceries, assist with rent, purchase furniture, buy bus passes and purchase winter clothing for refugee families new to the country.

6:30 pm Dinner
– Enjoy Food from Around the World
– Wine, Bourbon & Whiskey Tasting
– Silent Auction

7:30 pm > Entertainment
– Live Music
– Cultural Dancing

Stay and enjoy the evening with music, friends and family

Ticket Options
General Admission Tickets > $40
General Admission Table of Eight > $300
VIP Tickets > $80 **Limited Quantity Available**
VIP Table of Eight > $640 **Limited Quantity Available**
– VIP tickets include premium seating, wine, bourbon & whiskey tasting

Limited seating, reserve seats early.

Tickets are available online. For ticket information call Kristyne Walth, Volunteer Coordinator, LSS Center for New Americans at 605-731-2009.

A pledge or contribution to support LSS services in the area will be requested.

If you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation; text TOC17 to 41444.  Your gift is greatly appreciated.

 

 

 


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