Hope Springs Eternal

April 12, 2022

From the window view of my desk, I can see the Big Sioux River thawing. Already I have seen more joggers and bikers frequenting the river walk, and I myself have enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather.

Additionally, the great Canadian geese will soon be joined by Mallards, wood ducks, and American coots. They will walk and swim, side by side, caring for their young and finding food among the grass and within the river’s depths.

It goes without saying that spring is definitely the season of hope…hope for prosperity, perseverance, rebirth, new beginnings. And as our mild winter comes to an end, we find our classrooms are changing. New students are arriving, fresh from war-torn countries or long-term refugee camps. They are filled with hope and determination to make this new community, new city, new country theirs. They seek to learn about their new culture, to make friendships, to survive in this new world.

We here at Center for New Americans continue to hope and strive for a better world for our clients. Case workers scramble to find homes and jobs, greet new arrivals at the airport, help families enroll children in schools. The teachers painstakingly plan lessons, work with the students so that they can learn English at an accelerated pace. Everyone works together. Everyone works hard. Everyone looks toward the future with hope and anticipation. Hope is our mantra.

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


Fire Safety – It’s Everyone’s Job to Be Prepared!

March 22, 2022

This month we have been discussing fire safety in our classes. Though not always the most exciting of topics, it is an important thing to review with students so they, and their families, can be prepared in an emergency. In our lower-level speaking classes, we are reviewing how to call 911 to report a fire and tell the emergency responders the address. In our higher-level speaking classes, we are making fire-escape plans that students can use to get out of their homes if there is a fire. We are also discussing heating and how to safely use fireplaces and space heaters.

Our reading classes are also hard at work studying fire safety. In our lower-level classes, we are learning to read and write fire-safety-related words such as smoke, alarm, escape, batteries, heater and many more. Our higher-level classes are writing out the steps of the students’ fire escape plans using sequencing words such as first, next, then and finally. Additionally, the highest level classes are reading about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to learn about American history and the importance of fire safety.

Here are some of the most important fire safety tips our students have learned:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom of your home, in the hallways outside of the sleeping areas and near (but not in) the kitchen. Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every floor.
  • Test all the smoke alarms once a month to make sure they are working. Change the batteries in the alarms twice a year.
  • Contact the Volunteer Helpline by dialing 211 should you need a free smoke alarm.
  • Never use the stove/oven for heat. Use a space heater!
  • Keep the stove free of oil and don’t place flammable objects like tea towels or potholders on the stove or under the oven.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable things like paper, clothing, hair, animals and people!
  • Make a fire escape plan. Make sure that when possible, there are at least 2 ways out of every room.
  • Practice the plan with your family during the day and at night.

Kate Harris ESL Instructor & Career Navigator

Pronouns: she/her/hers

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

LssSD.org


Counselor Spotlight – Olivia Lima

January 20, 2022

Olivia has worked for us for almost a year and a half and has been a huge asset to our team. We asked Olivia some questions and she gave some great responses about working for LSS in our department.Olivia Lima

Why did you come to LSS – Center for Financial Resources?

Personal finance is a passion hobby of mine (I know, I’m such a geek!).  I am grateful for the knowledge I have about finance, since so many people aren’t sure how to handle their money—and no wonder!  Few of us learn this either at home or at school.  There’s such a deep need.  So last year I was looking for a way to put my knowledge to use, to give back by helping people build skills & confidence to manage their money.  The Center for Financial Resources really appealed to me because the focus is on helping regular people with everyday finance: how to budget, buy a home, pay off debt, and save money.  It’s not about helping the ultra-wealthy with tax havens! LSS has a strong reputation in SD for mission-driven purpose and high-quality service to the community, so I knew this would be a good place to invest my time and energy.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the decision: the staff at CFR are amazingly talented, dedicated professionals, and I have learned so much from everyone.

What benefits have you seen from your time with LSS – CFR?

It’s deeply gratifying to work with clients over time and see their finances improve and their confidence grow.  Money is just a tool to reach all our other goals, so when someone takes control of their money, it means they can take control of their life.  Even though it can be a long journey to build up finances all the way to a goal, I already see immediate relief in clients just from realizing they are on the right track.

Why would you recommend CFR to others?

Everyone can benefit from reviewing their finances!  And seeing a financial counselor gives you a helpful outside perspective as well as information about options you might not have known about—not to mention access to a cheerleader/accountability buddy!  Most financial advice is very expensive (either in explicit fees or hidden commission costs) but here at LSS we are funded to provide counseling at low to no cost.

What else do you feel people need to know about working with CFR?

It does not need to be scary!  Money can be SO emotional, but we can help make the process easier for you.  And there’s no judgment: after all, it’s your money!  We want to help you meet *your* goals, no one else’s.  And we are available to walk with you for as long as you’d like.  If you want to come in for a quick check-up and be done in 1-2 appointments, we can do that. If you’d like to continue meeting with a counselor for several months while you work toward goals, we can do that, too, at no additional cost.  We’re here to help you no matter what your situation.

Written by Cassandra Johnson and Olivia Lima, Financial Counselor and Educator

Photo credit: twitter.com

LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
www.LssSD.org
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

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New Debt Collection Rule

January 6, 2022

It’s been 45 years since the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act has been updated. Let’s be honest though, ways of communication are quite a bit different than they were in 1977. With the new update debt collectors can now contact via text message, email, and even direct messages in social media. text message image

Yes, you read that right – collectors can now contact you through social media, but… there are still laws in place to protect consumers. They can not post anything that would be visible to the public; it needs to be as a private message.

As of Nov. 30th, 2021 collectors have to include an option to opt-out of receiving messages in all ways of communication. Dealing with debts in collections is already stressful enough, and with these new changes it can become even trickier. Collectors can contact in all ways accessible for each debt that they have, so someone could receive a text, email, phone call, letter all over the same bill, but like I mentioned, there has to be an opt-out option for each method. It is important though to leave at least one method open. If all methods are closed there is no way of knowing where the debt is, or if it could be moving into further legal action.

We know that dealing with debt whether in collections or not can be daunting sometimes on knowing what to do. Please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us and a counselor can go over all options available. You can call us at 1-888-258-2227 or visit our website at www.lsssd.org.

Written by Cassandra Johnson, Financial Counselor and Educator

Photo credit: flickr.com

LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
www.LssSD.org
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

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Let Us Know! Let Us Know! Let Us Know! – By Sara Ramirez

December 23, 2021

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,

But CFR staff are so delightful

So if you don’t know where your dollars go

Let us know, Let us know, Let us knowdepositphotos.com piggy bank

CFR staff are always rocking

And can help get the collection calls stopping

If you have bills from long ago

Let us know, Let us know, Let us know

When you decide money is just too tight

Or you’re in the middle of the storm

Drop us a call, email or even write

CFR will get your financial health in form

We pray that you have a joyful and peaceful Christmas!

Sincerely,

LSS – Center for Financial Resources

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” —Luke 2:10

Music by Sara Ramirez

Written by Cassie Johnson, Financial Counselor and Educator

Photo credit: http://www.depositphotos.com

LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
www.LssSD.org
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

FB icon   Twitter icon    LinkedIn icon 2    YouTube icon   LSS  Blog button My Money CheckUp icon


Counselor Spotlight – Rod Lipka

December 9, 2021

Rod Lipka

Rod Lipka has been working for LSS-Center for Financial Resources for three months now, and he is fitting right in with our team. He has such a heart for wanting to help those in our communities. We asked Rod a couple questions about his thoughts on our department and here is what he had to say:

–Why did you come to LSS-Center for Financial Resources?

“What attracted me most to LSS is that everything offered is about what is most beneficial for the clients. The goals of our programs are about education, counseling, and consultation, not sales.”

–Why would you recommend LSS-CFR to others?

“The commitment LSS has to the community can be seen in all the services offered and how actively they are promoted to make sure those most in need are aware of what we can do to assist them.”

–What else do you feel people need to know about working with LSS-CFR?

“Our priority is to provide clients with well informed options. There is no judgment and the details of counseling are private.”

Written by Cassie Johnson, Financial Counselor and Educator

Photo credit: http://www.LssSD.org

LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
www.LssSD.org
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

FB icon   Twitter icon    LinkedIn icon 2    YouTube icon   LSS  Blog button My Money CheckUp icon


Winter Safety 101

December 7, 2021

Yikes!  A high of 12 degrees today!?  So this morning I begrudgingly put leggings on under my pants, pulled on my heavy socks, layered my shirts, wore my warmest driving gloves, and wrapped my neck with a scarf before heading out to the cold air.

I am prepared for the winter cold (and have in fact survived many decades of winters) but what about my new refugee students?  Not so much!  They were hoping that the weather doesn’t get any colder than 40s…such a harsh awakening!

As South Dakotans, we know the season.  Community-wide jacket drives for children abound.  On TV the summer ads have been replaced with sweaters and parkas.  The lawnmowers have been put away and replaced by snow blowers, the deck furniture has been overturned, the garden is barren, and the trees have barely a leaf left as the remaining few crunch under our feet. 

And although we have not hit the coldest month of the year yet, students are bundling up in parkas and scarves and winter boots.  They are telling me that it is COLD, and are in disbelief that the weather could possibly get any colder.  I sorrowfully have to inform them that the weather does indeed get much colder here in South Dakota. 

I truly had to look and know for myself the temperatures my students are used to.  Using weather-atlas.com I found the average January temperatures for several of my students’ warm climate countries.  South Sudan has a high of 98.2° F and a LOW of 68.2° F!  El Salvador, close to the equator, has a high of 87.1° F and a low of 66.9°F, and the coolest country I looked up was mountainous Nepal at 66.4° F and 36.3°F.  Balmy South Dakota, on the other hand, has a high of 23.4° F and a low of -9.7° F in January.

And that is the crux of the matter.  My new students have never experienced snow and actual sub-zero temperatures.  My students don’t know what mittens are or that we need to dress in layers.  They don’t know how slippery the ice is nor how bitter the wind becomes.  And so every year, we discuss tips on staying warm.  Here are a few basic ones all my students need to learn.

Tips for Dressing in the Winter:

  • Layer your clothes.
  • Choose tight fitting clothing to prevent air.
  • Choose long coats over short.
  • Invest in hat, mittens/gloves, and a scarf.
  • Wear water-resistant boots.

Do you know someone who needs a winter coat?  Want to Donate a coat?

  • St. Francis House: Keep Warm Keloland  
  • The Salvation Army: Coats For All  
  • Union Gospel Mission
  • Center of Hope
  • St. Vincent de Paul
  • Good Will of the Great Plains

Hope you all stay warm this winter!

Written by Heather Glidewell

Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2041  |  T:  800-2422447  |  C: 605-743-0706  |  F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

LssSD.org

Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities


Quick Holiday Cash, the Non-Scam Way

November 24, 2021

The holidays can already be stressful enough without the concern on if you are being scammed by a deal that is too good to be true. There are a lot of scams out there: ones that try to convince you to donate to a charity, fake gift exchanges, or temporary holiday jobs.

Now, working a holiday job can be a good way to earn some extra cash, but be careful as to if it is legitimate or not. If they are offering high wages for routine tasks like stuffing envelopes or answering phones it could be a scam. The saying of ‘if it sounds to good to be true… it probably is’ should be ringing in your ears in this scenario or any situation that seems fishy. You should request an official offer letter that details the job being hired for and the wages before starting any work.

There are some websites you can go to for cross referencing on if a business is reputable: cportcu.org

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) https://www.bbb.org/: There is an entire database that tracks scams.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) https://www.ftc.gov/: Has a scam alert page that is always being updated on current scams.

Some creative ways that you can make some quick cash could be by doing ride share or food delivery jobs (Uber/Lyft, FoodDudes/DoorDash). Another idea is to sell things that you no longer need. If you have children, you could also encourage them to sell toys they no longer play with.

If you like these ideas or want other ideas reach out to us and one of our counselors can meet with you. We can also help review documents if you are concerned on it being a scam. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at 1-888-258-2227 or by visiting our website at www.lsssd.org.

Written by Cassandra Johnson, Financial Counselor and Educator

Photo credit: cportcu.org

LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
www.LssSD.org
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

FB icon   Twitter icon    LinkedIn icon 2    YouTube icon   LSS  Blog button My Money CheckUp icon


Skip the Hassle. Buy Local!

November 11, 2021

You hear it every year in November. Buy local! Support Small Business Saturday! Yes, I am a big supporter of small businesses because they are the fabric of our community. Small businesses help develop a unique and vibrant local culture. We all know money spent with local businesses stays in the local economy and in turn helps not only our city but surrounding communities grow and prosper. But did you know small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes? Read the rest of this entry »


How Many Years will I Be Paying My Student Loans?!

October 28, 2021

I was pretty excited to see when I logged in to make my monthly student loan payment last spring that my payments were put into forbearance (but I could still make payments if I’d like) and no interest was accruing! There are two things I’m going to touch on in today’s blog. JQ7IJP2ZC5FF3DE4FINJKL76NI

  • For those that have student loans the final extension of the pause on payments ends on January 31, 2022. At that time payments will start again for federal loans that the forbearance pertained too, along with interest, and collection practices on defaulted loans.
  • Another new update that has occurred; on October, 6th the Biden Administration announced some major changes that are going into place for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). A limited waiver is in the works to allow those that have previously been denied, or who weren’t set up under the correct type of payment plan could now qualify. This is only available until October 31st, 2022 for completing. Here is a link to the Student Aid government website that explains the process further:

Read the rest of this entry »


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