Open Adoption – the Best Mother’s Day Gift

April 17, 2017

Every May LSS has an annual event to honor birth mothers. It provides them with an opportunity to visit with others who have traveled the same path in choosing to place their children for adoption. It serves as a support group as they struggle with grief and loss, but also allows them to celebrate their child. Read the rest of this entry »

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 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

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 to learn how you can join our volunteer program.

Have an inspirational day! : )

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson

What You Are Really Paying For

January 24, 2017

Pop.  Soda.  Fizzy caffeinated goodness.  Whatever you call it, wecoke-in-a-glass go through a lot of it.  Have you ever paid attention to the cost of it?  More importantly, have you ever thought about why you pay so much extra for that one quick bottle? Read the rest of this entry »

A Special Thanks to Jim Schade

January 18, 2017

After 19 years of dedicated service in the South Dakota Synod, Jim Schade, Director of SD Lutheran Planned Giving, announced his retirement. Jim’s last day was on January 10, 2017.

Jim worked for the State of South Dakota in Pierre for years before he and wife Nancy decided to move to Volga, settling on eighty acres near Jim’s home farm. Jim used his knowledge about estate taxes to start work for SDLPG.

Through the years, Jim helped individuals and families make legacy gifts that will continue to be a blessing to others long after their passing. His advice to decide now who gets grandma’s pie plate and who gets grandpa’s shotgun brought home the need to make plans ahead to avoid hard feelings and family strife. He also worked with congregations and LSS, along with other mission partners, building strong relationships, and giving them the tools and access to his expertise to grow their endowments. Jim took the process that most people find confusing and even scary and made it comfortable and easy to understand.

Jim’s support for LSS wasn’t just through SDLPG. Jim has been the emcee and has done the ask for contributions at the Brookings area benefit event, volunteered for the Changing Children’s Lives capital campaign, donated many bottles of wine for auctions, and served on the LSS Foundation Board of Directors. Jim and Nancy are members of the LSS Founders Family and opened up their home and winery for small group gatherings.

Jim and Nancy will have a number of interests to keep them busy. In 2000, they opened Schade` Vineyards, only the third farm winery in the state, making wine with South Dakota grown fruits and vegetables. Jim is active in the South Dakota Wine Growers Association, and is currently the president of the Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board. Jim and Nancy are also very involved in their church, First Lutheran in Volga.

A retirement party for Jim is scheduled for January 24, 2017 from 3-5 pm at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church at 2208 La Quinta Street in Sioux Falls. Join in the celebration to honor Jim and thank him for all the work he has done on behalf of LSS!

Linda Jensen, LSS Development & Foundation
Church Relations and Planned Giving Development Officer
705 E. 41st Street, Suite 200, Sioux Falls, SD 57105-6048
605-444-7536, 800-568-2401 ext. 7536

Thank you to Catholic United Financial

January 4, 2017

Catholic United Financial, a fraternal life insurance company, sponsored a Gather4Good event at St. Benedicts Catholic Church in Yankton, SD. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and hundreds of people of all ages came together to assemble care kits to be distributed locally to non-profits for their clients. Harald Borrmann, President and Chair of the Board of the company was in attendance and gave a short presentation, along with myself and a representative from another recipient of the kits.

I visited with volunteers from parishes in Scotland and Dimock, and there were many other Catholic congregation members from all over the area who came to make a difference. Volunteers enjoyed entertainment, lunch, snacks, kid’s activities and fellowship. 2016-january-4-gather4good-kitIt only took about an hour and 1/2 for us to assemble more than 2,000 care kits! The items for the kits were put in drawstring bags, and then packed in empty sand bags for distribution. LSS was blessed to receive 740 of those kits, valued at $5,550. There were so many that they didn’t fit in the SUV I drove to the event! A Catholic United Financial staff member was good enough to drop the rest off at LSS in Sioux Falls on her way back to Minnesota. The care kits were divided up between eight LSS programs in southeast SD. Care kits provide a sense of normalcy, dignity and hope to people in need and are already being distributed to LSS clients.

Many thanks to Member Engagement Advisor Kaitlin Groeneweg for contacting us, for coordinating our pick up of the kits, and for including LSS on the program that day. Thanks also to all the volunteers who came that day to assemble the care kits, and to all the Catholic United Financial staff for organizing a great event!

Linda Jensen, LSS Development & Foundation
Church Relations and Planned Giving Development Officer
605- 444-7536 direct, 800-568-2401 ext. 7536 toll free

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