August 9, 2017
Better Together, a program of Lutheran Social Services designed to improve quality of life activities for older adults will expand to Brookings this fall!
The program started in Sioux Falls in January 2015 in collaboration with the Sioux Empire United Way. In early 2017, LSS contracted with a consulting firm to look at opportunities to expand the program beyond Sioux Falls. Brookings was the community identified through this process as being the most capable and ready for Better Together.
To help carry out the program in Brookings, LSS has partnered with the Volunteer Service Bank. This organization, embarking on its 25th year of service will assist with local coordination and will help both volunteers and seniors get started.
In the program, trained volunteers will be matched with an older adult based on similar interests and schedule. Volunteer and older adult matches will spend four hours per month together going on outings, talking, pursuing hobbies, and other relationship-building activities.
With nearly half of people aged 65 and older in South Dakota living alone, there is need to use volunteers to help maintain or reestablish a connection to their community.
If you are interested in being one of the first to volunteer for the program in Brookings, apply here. If you know of an older adult who would benefit from this service, please let them know to call us at 444-7801 or complete an intake application.
August 4, 2017
Eric Sather was involved with coordinating the youth group at First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls and wanted to do more to impact young people in our community. He was visiting with a mentor of his own about this, and they pointed him to LSS. Eric applied and as they say, the rest is history.
Eric, who works at Scheel’s, said he has found mentoring to be a great way to give back. He has mentored for several years and has been matched with Ethan for the past five. The two enjoy their weekly meetings and Eric is quick to point out that Ethan has thanked him for coming every week.
“Kids are the next generation and we need to do all we can to help them start on the right foot,” said Eric. “Having adults spend time with them and having someone to look up to is so important.”
Ethan, who will be a 7th grader at Memorial Middle School says, “Having a mentor is like having a dad that you just talk with and there are not any distractions.” He and Eric have played a lot of games over the years (Ethan says they are both very competitive) and have visited a lot.
Ethan has plans to be a mechanical engineer someday and knows having Eric by his side will only help him in achieving his goals. They have grown personally through their relationship and look forward to the future. Ethan had one last comment that he wanted to make sure got included, “Eric is awesome!”
Wouldn’t it be great if more kids could say they had an awesome friend like Eric in their life? As we approach the back to school season, please apply today to volunteer to mentor and befriend a child in our community this year.
July 26, 2017
For many people, volunteering as a mentor may not be possible due to their schedule or ability to commit to a child. However, we know that people are supportive of LSS Mentoring Services and may be willing to help out in other ways! Here are a few ideas to help the program without being a mentor.
- Recruit. You may not be able to be a mentor, but you know of a retired neighbor who seems to be available throughout the day or a friend who now has an empty nest, or even a manager who would like to get their employees involved in the community. Tell them about this program! We are happy to present information to individuals and groups about what we do and how people can get involved. Word of mouth is so important and our best form of advertising!
- Donate Supplies. Schools are in need of new or very gently used games, puzzles, card games and art supplies. If you have been meaning to clear out some space at your home, consider donating to LSS! Or you may feel to drive to help when you’re shopping and come across something that may be of use. Games that require only two players work best. Just drop them off at our office and we will get them to schools in need.
- Donate Tickets or Offer Discounts. If you have seats to a game or play in town that you are not able to use, let us know! Our USucceed and Better Together matches are able to go out and about in the community and are always looking for things to do. The more advanced notice we get, the better the chance is for them to be put to use. Why let your seats go unused – just think of the thrill of a child going to a game for the first time or the joy you would bring to the life of an older adult instead.
- Make a Financial Gift. Like everything, programs need financial support to continue to develop and grow. If you’d like to make a gift to LSS, please go here to make your donation online!
While we would love for everyone to be a mentor, we know it’s not possible. We hope you still consider supporting the work that we do and can find your own way to make a difference!
Post by Michelle Madsen
July 13, 2017
The LSS Better Together program is hosting a BINGO Night – and the public is invited to join. BINGO Night will be on August 15, 6-7:30 PM at LSS, 705 E 41st Street.
The LSS Better Together program connects volunteers with older adults. Since beginning in 2015, the program has worked with over 60 matches. However, we know that there are more older adults who need a friendly visit and occasional help to get things done. To help people learn more about the program, the BINGO Night will bring together older adults and potential volunteers as well as current matches who can talk about their experiences.
Better Together is looking for volunteers to provide friendship, socialization and four hours of their time each month to spend with people over 65 in the Sioux Empire. Whether it’s swinging by for coffee, going out to lunch or playing some cards – you can do these little things that can mean so much to people who enjoy – and need – a friendly face around. LSS requires volunteers to commit to one year when they sign up for the program. Potential volunteers need to apply, successfully complete a background screen and attend an orientation before being matched with an older adult.
If you know an older adult who would benefit from having a volunteer through the Better Together program, please let us know! We want to be a service to the community and connect seniors with resources they need.
To register for BINGO Night on August 15, call LSS at 605-221-2403 or email us at Mentoring@LssSD.org. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, click here. Keep in mind that individuals, couples and families can apply to be a Better Together volunteer.
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
July 7, 2017
After about a month on her new job at Raven Industries, Sara Lopez-Jauregui knew she wanted to volunteer to mentor. “Raven has a culture of service and volunteering, so it was easy to get started,” said Sara. She met with a student at Edison for a few years. When that student changed schools, she was matched with Ashley. The two have been together the past three years.
“We have a lot in common and also have a good connection that makes me look forward to seeing Ashley each week,” said Sara. The two have made the best of their time together. In addition to the typical mentor activities of playing a game and chatting, the two have used the foods classroom to cook together! They have made lots of different cookies and pancakes.
“I am happier when she’s around,” said Ashley. “She gives me courage to talk with friends.” Ashley and Sara also talk about being women in typically male-dominated careers. Sara works in the Ag division at Raven, and Ashley is interested in construction.
Ashley was very excited to get a mentor like Sara and looks forward to continuing their relationship in the future. She is looking forward to meeting with Sara in high school through the LSS USucceed program. She says the first thing she wants to do is take Sara to McDonald’s since Sara has bought that for her before. They both say the best thing about mentoring is that it is fun! And while they are anticipating more fun together in the coming year, it is evident that both Ashley and Sara have gotten something they needed as a result of this relationship.
June 9, 2017
When LSS Mentoring expanded to the Dell Rapids School District in 2011, Jill Hansen was one of the first volunteers to sign up. She attended a Try-It session at the school and was hooked right away.
“My kids were growing up and graduating, so I wanted to still be involved in the school,” said Jill. “This is easy to do and I like that I can have a positive influence on children other than my own. It helps keep me young too!”
Jill has been meeting with Adisen for the past two years. She was matched with her when her first student moved out of the district. Adisen, who is in 6th grade this year has enjoyed having a mentor. “It’s really fun,” said Adisen. “Everyone should have someone to talk to who is not their family or a teacher or counselor.”
The two meet every week and typically play games. They are especially fond of Racko. A time that stands out is when the conference room was in use and they met on the stage. They played tag and had a great time pretending to act and perform. They also did a taste test of Kit-Kat bars – one bought locally and one bought in Canada. They concluded that not all Kit_Kat bars are equal and there is a difference!
Most of all, they both seem to enjoy the conversations. “She is always telling me to never give up and to keep smiling. She is encouraging and tells me to do my best,” said Adisen.
Both Jill and Adisen would like to see more mentor matches in Dell Rapids. “This does not take a lot of time,” said Jill. “You don’t need to be a teacher to be able to relate to kids, you just need to spend time.” And Adisen agrees. As far as student needs go, she said, “You don’t need to have a big problem in life to have a mentor. We could all use someone else to talk to.”
May 12, 2017
Randy Bury and his student, Moises, are nearing the end of their involvement in LSS Mentoring Services programming. The two have been matched since Moises was a
Randy and Moises participated in a panel discussion at the 2017 Mentor Appreciation Breakfast.
2nd grader at Hawthorne and next month, Moises will graduate high school. While their involvement in the program is over, their relationship is far from it.
“We have a friendship now and we don’t see this as participating in a program,” said Randy. “Going into mentoring I expected it to run its course but I am glad we have continued.”
When they first started meeting, Randy and Moises read together – primarily Scooby Doo books! Today, they enjoy discussions on social policy, physics and like a good Civil War debate.
Moises says he thinks his life would be “very different” if he had not met Randy. “It would be odd,” said Moises. “Meeting with him every week is very routine now.” Moises said he has enjoyed getting to know Randy and sharing stories together, saying that Randy always offers a story that helps Moises with whatever he has going on in his life.
Randy knows it has made an impact on him and he has gotten a lot out of mentoring. He did express what almost every mentor says or feels and that is if it is making a difference for the student. He said, “the value of mentoring can be hard to see when it’s right in front of you. But, if you go back to the research that is evidence based, you know mentoring makes a difference.”
We at LSS can clearly see that Randy and Moises will be friends well beyond graduation and they are more than mentor and student. Matches working out this well and this long are what we hope for everyone in the program, and we love to share examples like this.