March 23, 2018
Each year, LSS welcomes nominations for the Sanford Outstanding Rookie Mentor Award. School counselors nominate mentors in their first or second year of service who have gone above and beyond and have made a pretty immediate impact on the student they are matched with. We received four wonderful nominations this year. Please read about each mentor!
Anita Jorgensen, Mentor at Lowell Elementary, Employed at Sanford
In the year that they have met, Anita has gone above and beyond for her student. The two can be found playing games and reading books together every week. Anita has given extra attention by helping with classroom parties and field trips. Anita’s student is really shy in the classroom, but when Anita is by her side, she is social and confident. Anita truly brings out the best in this student!
Elliot VanWell, Mentor at Hawthorne Elementary, Augustana Student
While completing a practicum at Hawthorne, a classroom teacher asked Elliot if he would be interested in mentoring a student who was in desperate need of a positive male role model. He immediately agreed! Elliot is a natural mentor who just gets it. The student’s attitude has changed since Elliot came into his life – he is seeing for the first time how a male can have a positive impact on society.
Stu Webber, Mentor at Patrick Henry Middle School, Employed at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center
When starting to mentor this year, Stu agreed to meet with two middle school boys. He always creates a positive environment with his students. Stu makes each student feel like they are important and truly listens to what they say. Teachers have noticed that one of the students Stu mentors has more opinions now rather than following the crowd, which has been a very positive change for this child.
Cathy Zerfas, Mentor at Harrisburg Liberty Elementary, Retired
Cathy began mentoring two girls after attending an LSS Try-It event. Her big heart could not turn away either student she met at the event. Cathy decided to get involved with mentoring after her granddaughter moved out of state and says, “Mentoring saved me, every bit as it’s maybe helping these two little girls.” Cathy brings both students that extra care they need to feel more confident throughout their day.
The recipient of the award will be named at the 2018 LSS Mentor Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, April 20. Thanks to Sanford for their generous sponsorship of this award!
Post by Michelle Madsen
March 22, 2018
Students Enjoy the Sunshine on the Capital Steps
Wednesday, February 28, was a busy day for many Sioux Falls refugees and immigrants. Waking up early in the morning and boarding a bus, 51 adult English language learners, 3 teachers, and 1 volunteer spent the day traveling to Pierre, SD, to see the state capital, watch the House session, meet the governor, talk with government officials, visit the Korean and Vietnam War Memorial, and tour the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center. It was a fun day for everyone!
Watching the Ducks on Capital Pond
The Vietnam and Korean War Memorial
Representing 15 countries, the students met with Senator Reynold Nesiba, Laura Trapp of the Department of Labor, and Policy Advisor Matt Konenkamp. They also were able to have a photo with Governor Daugaard in the capital rotunda, and Representative Tom Holmes gave a warm welcome to the students in the House.
Students Rest and Have Lunch
Sen. Nesiba and Students
Students and Sen. Nesiba
Laura Trapp and Students
After returning to Sioux Falls, McKervans, a young man from Haiti said, “I had fun, so I want to go next year again. It is important to know other things like the museum and capital in Pierre. I’m so glad because I was able to know the capital for my first time.”
Students with Matt Konenkamp in the Governor’s Office
Students and Teachers pose with Gov. Daugaard
Thank you to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Adult Education and Literacy for sponsoring the event.
Students Visit the Museum
Everyone Enjoyed an Eventful Day
February 23, 2018
“If you’re having trouble and need to talk it out, wish for a mentor.” That is what Ben, a 6th grader at Harrisburg North Middle School, said. He went on to say that he felt lucky that he has been able to meet with Chad Erickson for the past four years.
Chad, who works at US Bank, has enjoyed mentoring and is glad he got involved. “Mentoring grounds me. It helps to keep things real. It’s easy to get busy with day to day routines. Mentoring is a nice break and now I don’t know what I would do without it,” said Chad.
Each week, Chad and Ben spend their time talking and playing games. Battleship and Brick Breaker are among their favorites right now. One thing they often talk about is how to avoid conflict.
According to Ben, he was a “mischievous kid” when he was in 3rd grade and had trouble before that year with getting mad. Chad and Ben discussed the book Soda Pop Head on a regular basis. Visits from Chad have been great for Ben. “It’s a break from other kids and bullies,” said Ben. “Chad really gets me. We like the same things. We can talk out situations and he helps me. He’s a person I can actually trust.”
As much as mentoring has helped Ben, Chad has enjoyed it and looks forward to the future. Like everyone, he had reservations before starting. “You don’t really know what you’re getting into when you apply,” said Chad. “Now that I have seen the benefits and that Ben has come a long way for the better, I can’t imagine if I was not part of it.”
They are both excited to see what the future brings. When asked what they will remember about their time together twenty year from now, Ben said he will remember “having a real close friend.” And Chad said, “no matter what, I will always remember Ben.”
After meeting Ben, he is someone I will remember for awhile too. He is an enjoyable kid who really thrives when his mentor is around.
January 10, 2018
Pat and Sue are a great Better Together match. Click on the video above to watch their story!
Better Together, a program of Lutheran Social Services designed to improve quality of life activities for older adults, has expanded to Brookings!
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 volunteering 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.
Post by Michelle Madsen