October 26, 2017
In the spirit of Halloween, we are going to talk a little bit about fears. At LSS Mentoring, we know that kids have a lot of fears. Below are just a few examples of fears mentors have seen in (and ultimately helped the student make a change for the positive) their students.
Social Fears. Imagine going to a new school and not knowing anyone. Or you’re in middle school and do not have any friends to sit with at lunch because you are too afraid to talk to anyone. Mentors can help encourage students to break out of their shell and find students at their school with similar interest. It may take awhile, but that student will get a lot of conversational practice with their mentor that will help them develop friendships with their peers, and ultimately, their teachers, job supervisors, college professors and beyond.
Academic Fears. In New Mentor Training, we teach new volunteers how to encourage their student to have a growth mindset. The most important word a mentor can reinforce to their student is YET. If a student says, “I have not passed a math test this year. What’s the point?,” a mentor has the perfect opportunity to let the student know they have not passed one YET. Then, they can help problem solve by talking about what the student has tried to prepare and what they could try next. Sharing other approaches and other perspectives is so important for students growth.
Fear of the Future. Kids who have a mentor may not be excited about their future. They may be worried about their family not having enough money to send them to college or worried about leaving their home. Believe it or not, mentoring is FUN! Mentors are encouraged to talk about the future, but we also want the time shared to be fun for both students and volunteers. Just taking time to play a board game or draw on a write board or share a meal can allow everyone to take a break and enjoy the moment. Mentors can also share that they were afraid at that point in their lives and what they did to keep that fear under control. Having someone acknowledge the fear and let the student know they are not alone can go a long way.
So, what are you afraid of? Don’t let your fear stand in the way of making a child a little less fearful.
Post by Michelle Madsen
October 4, 2017
As the 2017-18 school year starts, it may be a great time to talk about mentoring at your office! Bob Wendland, who mentors at Eugene Field, found out about the program just that way. “Mentoring is a perfect break in my day,” said Bob. “It’s nice to get out the office and de-stress.”
Bob is matched with Daniel, who is now a 3rd grader. At the end of last year, they were looking forward to reconnecting and starting their third year together this fall. “He makes me feel happy,” said Daniel. “He is fun, funny and nice.”
Daniel enjoys playing games with Bob and remembers their first meeting as the time when they “played Go Fish and Bob asked me a lot of questions.” The biggest attribute Bob has seen in Daniel is his kindness. “I look forward to seeing where his genuine kindness takes him in life,” said Bob.
Bob definitely sees the need for more mentors. He grew up in a small South Dakota town where everyone knew everyone. He knows that is not the case in Sioux Falls, which makes mentoring a valuable investment of your time.
If you would like to talk about mentoring at your workplace, let us know! We would be happy to send you applications or brochures to help get people interested. As we are going into the 2017-18 school year, there are approximately 200 students like Daniel who need someone “fun, funny and nice” in their life.
September 29, 2017
Mentors can teach many skills to the students they work with. One important one is the ability to say THANK YOU. With the help of community groups, kids will be able to say thank you to their mentors a little more easily this year.
The program has received donations of scrapbook supplies and volunteer groups have been busy creating cards that will be given to schools. Schools will then give the blank thank you cards to students to write a short note or draw a picture to give to their mentor.
We have been blessed with hundreds of cards this year, but are always in need of more. If you are a card maker and would like to lend your talents to a good cause or if you have supplies that are filling up your closet, we can take those as well! In addition to thank you cards, we are in need of 40-50 birthday cards that will be sent to older adults in the Better Together program. Please drop any donation off at LSS, 705 E 41st Street, Suite 220.
September 7, 2017
Did you know that when a student misses two days of school each month, or around 18 days a year, they are considered chronically absent? It may not seem like much, but missing two days each month accounts for about 10% of their school year. And if an elementary school student misses about 10 days per year, they will miss an entire semester of learning by the time they reach middle school. Nationally, one out of every ten students falls into the category of being chronically absent.
When students miss school, they miss opportunities to learn and the important interactions that occur with school staff and students that can’t be replaced or made up. While many certainly miss a day here or there due to illness, it is important to make sure missing school does not become a habit.
We know that LSS Mentors make a difference when it comes to attendance. One counselor recently said, “when I look at a student’s attendance and they have a mentor, usually I can count on the students being at school on mentor day.” Kids love to see their mentor and don’t want to miss their weekly meeting.
To help encourage attendance, mentors can talk about the importance of school as well as point out all of the fun and good that comes from being in school every day.
The Sioux Falls School District continues to make school attendance a priority. They believe that as attendance rates increase, students outcomes and performance and ultimately their success in school will increase too. Mentors as well as anyone who wants to learn more are invited to a presentation by Traci Jensen, Sioux Falls School District Student Support Supervisor, on Wednesday, September 13, 12-1 PM at LSS, 705 E 41st Street. Email us at mentoring@LssSD.org or call 221-2403 to RSVP.
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