Skip to main content

Changing Lives Today

Some of our counselors had a busy week at the end of September doing some speed counseling with students at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD. Brian Ringler, Dawson Muska, and Olivia Lima met with 79 students in 15 minute increments to discuss money management, what costs will look like when they complete school, and […]

As I meander the halls of the Center for New Americans, I find a special shelf dedicated to literacy for both our students and their families.  Through an outreach program via Siouxland Libraries, we are able to have a mini library at the convenience and delight of our students.  Our mini library allows students to […]

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A South Dakota non-profit that serves newcomers and families in-need quietly reached an important milestone this year. LSS isn’t holding any public events celebrating its 100th anniversary, due to the pandemic. So we wanted to share the story behind this Lutheran-based organization that’s had such a profound impact across the state over the past century.

It’s been kind of a bittersweet week for those of us at the Center for Financial Resources. Today we bid goodbye to one of our own, Randy Rehling.  Randy is retiring to do the things we all want to do, spend time with loved ones, travel, see grandchildren. I think it’s safe to say that […]

The Board of Directors of Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota is proud to announce the appointment of Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen as the new President/CEO of the agency. After a thorough search for the position, the Board determined Kiesow-Knudsen was the right person to lead LSS into its second century of service.

LSS Center for New Americans once again received a generous grant from Xcel Energy. This grant has helped to provide classes that prepare students to enter the workforce. The project, called Career Literacy for Refugees and Immigrants, teaches students career readiness skills such as critical thinking, teamwork/collaboration, leadership and digital literacy. The project also provides […]

You have HOW MUCH in student loan debt?!?  Well, did you know you can pay a mere $5 a month for the next year and then have the rest of your debt wiped away?  Wouldn’t that be great?  Only $60 paid and no more student loans!  This would be great, but is also only going […]

What is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week?September 19 to 25 is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. This week focuses on public awareness and understanding of the essential role of adult education and family literacy in the workforce. Why is literacy important?Statistically we find that illiteracy leads to a multitude of socioeconomic […]

I once had a conversation with a young lady that was in one of my classes.  She had applied for a car loan, and the lender asked her about a credit card she hadn’t noted on her application. She wasn’t aware she had a credit card, but a little digging found that the card had […]

Our House… …Is a very very very fine house. Or is it in the middle of our street?  Either way, as a homeowner, you need to be thinking about what’s just around the corner. Autumn.  When the leaves fall and the wind blows and it’s time to get the house ready for winter. In our […]

I’m probably dating myself here, but for those of you on the planet for awhile, you may remember Dana Carvey on SNL and his Choppin’ Broccoli song.  If you don’t know it, do yourself a favor and hit the Google. You may wonder why I’m talking about broccoli, but it’s been on my mind.  Earlier […]

In case you weren’t aware, right now there is a lot of help available to those who have fallen behind on mortgage, rent and utilities because of COVID, or on rent and/or utilities because of financial setbacks during the pandemic.  LSS is one of several agencies processing these applications and there is a huge backlog.  […]

How’s that Christmas shopping coming? What? It’s only August?  I know.  But really, how’s that shopping coming? It might sound crazy, but now’s the time to start, unless you are way ahead of the game and already started.  You don’t actually need to wait until November (or even worse, December!)  to start that shopping. Spreading […]

For the past several weeks, students have been slowly filling our hallways and classrooms again. Yet, it is a quiet transition, with only a few in-house spots available while the majority of students remain online. This hybrid design was proposed to help students remain in English classes while still allowing for social distance and safety. […]

To paraphrase Mick, “you just might find, you get what you need.” A lot of us think, “If only I made more money, life would be so much easier.”  It would be nice not to worry about money, but let’s be honest.  Just like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, we think more money will […]

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – In a few weeks students will be heading back to the classroom. After a tough school year because of the pandemic, an organization is encouraging people to volunteer to be mentors. As we approach the beginning of the school year, soon classrooms will be once again filled with students. The director of mentoring at Lutheran Social Services says this year there is a big need for mentors.

What’s the first thing you thought of when you read that title?  The Lion King? Something else? Circles are everywhere in our lives, vicious circles, circles of life, truth etc. However, I want to talk about a circle that many of you may not think of, but that is pretty important. Over the last couple […]

Last week we talked about building credit for the first time.  This week we are going to talk about repairing your credit if you have older negative items pulling your credit score down. Payment history is the biggest part of your credit rating, and when payments are missed and things are reported as past due, […]

Oh, credit rating!  So important and often misunderstood.  Talk about credit and it seems everyone is either sure they KNOW what they are talking about or they brush it off and say it’s not important at all. However, when it comes to workshops and classes, credit is what people want to know about.  How to […]

Things come around and go around again and again. Fashions, hairstyles, eyewear, you name it. Once you’ve been on the planet for awhile, you see things you had or wore or did as a young person come around again. Although, with technology, many old things have gone by the wayside, and probably won’t make an […]

The Festival of Cultures drew a large and diverse crowd to Falls Park on a beautiful Saturday in June. Blue skies and lots of sunshine brought together vendors, singers and dancers and plenty of  food from all over the world. Mayor Paul TenHaken kicked off the event by reading the World Refugee Day Proclamation, informing […]

When I started with LSS nearly 10 years ago, I was one of a group of satellite offices for my department. Over the years, as funding changed, and the world changed, and our department changed, I find myself flying solo out here as the last satellite office in my department. It takes deliberate intention on […]

Today we had the vocabulary word, “defect.”  This is a simple enough word, commonly used in both written and spoken English.  It means of course that is something is not quite right; an item is not quite perfect.  It is defective.  However, that same word takes on a whole new meaning with a different pronunciation.  […]

K.I.S.S.  Most of us have heard the acronym.  I like to translate it as Keep It Super Simple. You know – concepts so simple that they might sound stupid.  You might roll your eyes at them, BUT THEY WORK! In some of our classes, we give tips and tricks to help with controlling spending.  […]

One of the things people don’t often realize about credit counseling is that you don’t have to wait until you’re in trouble to come in for help.  A pre-emptive strike, so to speak, can help people to see they are headed for trouble, and to turn things around before they fall into the hole. We’ve […]

Can’t Buy Me Love Over the past weeks, we’ve been talking about how much we LOVE our cars, and buying and how to watch out for predatory situations and make a good deal for yourself.  But we’ve only talked about buying.  There is another option out there that can work for many people and that’s […]

13 months ago, I could have told you very little about Zoom. Prior to 2020, I used Zoom maybe a handful of times to join various meetings, but I had no other Zoom skills besides clicking a link and hoping I ended up in the right place. Fast-forward through a global pandemic, and I might […]

Last week, we talked about car buying and how it’s important to keep our wits about us.  Unfortunately, there are some other situations relating to car buying we need to look out for, because car financing is an area in which predatory lending can be just around the corner. One of my favorite things about […]

While COVID has upended many things, it hasn’t interfered with learning important skills at the Center for New Americans! In the late fall of 2020 and early spring of 2021, the Center for New Americans happily offered a general manufacturing and production job class to our students. These two-week classes, part of our STEP (Skills […]

It seems to be coming more apparent that people really want to get out of the house.  And one of the things I’ve noticed is new cars. EVERYWHERE. I swear in the last week or so I’ve seen at least 5 cars everyday with the new car papers in the window. Whether it’s new or […]

Students and teachers at the Center for New Americans rely on the help and support of classroom volunteers.  When our classes went online last spring, we had to find innovative ways to bring the volunteers back into the classroom.  Volunteers that were used to the traditional classroom have now become efficient and comfortable with the […]

My mentor is amazing, funny and adventurous. – Cheyenne My mentee is fearless, caring, outgoing, cheerful and artistic. – Erica Erica was involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sioux Empire program since 2009. When her “little” ended their match when the program changed to LSS, Erica wasted no time in letting us […]

If you didn’t know already, this weekend is Mother’s Day. Typically the busiest day of the year for restaurants and a busy one for florists as well. What?  You forgot? Now’s the time to make that brunch reservation and order some posies for Mom.  Unless you get mom a different gift, in addition to brunch […]

Students and teachers at the Center for New Americans rely on the help and support of classroom volunteers.  When our classes went online last spring, we had to find innovative ways to bring the volunteers back into the classroom.  Volunteers that were used to the traditional classroom have now become efficient and comfortable with the […]

April, 2021 was another busy month at LSS Mentoring Services! Here are three things that stood out this month. ONE – Winner, Winner! We applied for funding from the Lyon County Riverboat Days and were awarded an $1,800 grant. The much needed funds will go towards covering monthly events for our LSS Climb matches. Each […]

For the last few weeks, I’ve been focused on the fact that April is Financial Literacy month.  Today I’d like to talk about a different subject the April is the “month” of, and that is Stress Awareness Month.  And appropriately enough, those two things go together pretty well. Struggling with financial literacy can be a […]

For most of my life, I’ve been taller than my peers.  Even now as an adult, I’m a woman right at six feet tall.  In elementary school, my nickname was Big Bird. I was pretty good at basketball, and so sometimes it was Kareem Abdul Ja-Bird.  I was well into adulthood before I realized that […]

Students and teachers at the Center for New Americans rely on the help and support of classroom volunteers.  When our classes went online last spring, we had to find innovative ways to bring the volunteers back into the classroom.  Volunteers that were used to the traditional classroom have now become efficient and comfortable with the […]

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While celebrating 100 years of work in the community, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota also received a boost in national attention this week. One of South Dakota’s well-known, non-profit human service agency was spotlighted in the HBO documentary “Our Towns” which was released Tuesday night. The documentary, based on the book with the same name by Deborah and James Fallows, gave audiences a behind-the-scenes viewpoint of some of the work LSS does in relation to refugee and immigration services.

Many people ask me what I do.  When I answer that I’m a credit counselor, they stop and think for a moment and then that’s when they ask for clarification.  You do what?  What is that? A lot of people haven’t heard of such a thing and when I explain, they all agree it’s a […]

Every year, we like to honor a USucceed match that is graduating, and the Class of 2021 definitely made their mark on the program! One match that has been together for nearly a decade is Tricia McKee and Klely. They were first matched when Klely was a 1st grader at Hawthorne. They met for three years, then Klely […]

So this month, we’re talking about financial literacy.  And how sometimes we learn from life and at other times we learn from other people in our lives. Sometimes, those people try to teach us and we don’t listen. At best, we can hope to be either a good example or a cautionary tale. In my […]

In the past couple of weeks I have been given the privilege to say goodbye to four of my students.  Yes, certainly this is a sad day for me, but it is a wonderful day for my students, and it is an overwhelmingly proud day for both of us.  Although I was saying goodbye to […]

Financial literacy is a bit of a buzzword right now. Lots of people talk about it, and everyone agrees it’s important.  What’s less clear is how to make it happen for those that need it, which, by the way, is everyone. But what exactly is it?  The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy defines personal […]

If you are “of a certain age” like I am, you may remember The Flintstones.  Whenever Betty and Wilma were headed out to shop, they would hold their credit cards over their heads and yell “Charge!” ala Teddy Roosevelt heading up San Juan Hill.  Over the years, having high credit limits and charging a lot […]

In spite of being in the Time of Covid, many immigrants are still making the decision to become American citizens.  Over the past year, this process has changed to incorporate Covid-safe practices during the interview process.  I spoke with our lawyer, Dana Boroos, to get some insight on changes that have been instituted. From the […]

LSS Better Together is looking for independently living adults aged 65+ to enroll in the program! It is an easy process, and so much joy can come from being part of this program. The older adults in Better Together are referred to as neighbors – signifying that they are not “clients” or recipients of a […]

You know how the saying goes, there are two things we can be certain of, death and taxes.  It’s that time of the year again, time to gather documents and settle down to do the taxes, or haul your box of papers to your CPA.  Yes, tax time is upon us. It can get complicated, […]

Our goal is that adoptive families are equipped with the skills and resources to help their child thrive.

Much reflection has gone on this past week about “one year ago” and how the world changed. A big part of the pandemic was the shut down of retail. The Empire Mall closed its doors, leaving merchandise sitting. When the mall did finally reopen, it was almost a new season and new inventory had to […]

Spring is springing and you know what that means.  The changing of the clocks is upon us.  And not the nice one in the fall where we get to either sleep a bit longer or stay up and watch that movie on Saturday night.  No, it’s the one where we lose an hour, in the […]

Sioux Falls is filled with generous businesses and organizations that partner together to better serve the people living in this city. One such business is Xcel Energy. Xcel Energy has supported high-level adult ESL education here at the LSS Center for New Americans for over 10 years. One way we thought we’d say “Thank you!” […]

Charlie Toomajian wants to make a difference in the lives of Sioux Falls kids. He has volunteered for committees and boards, and at one of those meetings, was introduced to LSS Mentoring. He applied and was matched with Oliver, an energetic first grader at Garfield Elementary. The two got along famously their first year and […]

If you sang that to yourself, then you’ve been around awhile,

Hello! We are going to start a new monthly feature on the blog — 3 Things. Each month we will share three highlights or items of interest. It will be a quick way to stay up-to-date with what is going on at LSS Mentoring Services. Virtual mentoring is up and running at three Sioux Falls […]

¡Bienvenida Olivia! Olivia has been teaching for over 20 years, currently as a psychology professor at Augustana University. She is excited at the opportunity to teach financial classes and individual sessions through LSS, in both English and Spanish.

Olivia has been teaching for over 20 years, currently as a psychology professor at Augustana University. She is excited at the opportunity to teach financial classes and individual sessions through LSS, in both English and Spanish.