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Changing Lives Today

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.

We are closing in on one year (ONE YEAR!) of teaching during a global pandemic. It seems both way too long and way too short. I distinctly remember those early days of shifting over to online teaching, of telling students we won’t be having classes in person for who knows how long, of the unknowingness […]

LSS Mentoring Services matches volunteer mentors with children in the Sioux Falls area. The goal is to empower young people to succeed by establishing trusting relationships with adult volunteers. When a child has an LSS mentor, they have an additional caring adult in their life who is trained to provide support, expand possibilities and foster […]

Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future. If you don’t recognize that tidbit, do yourself a favor and get on the Google. But to the matter at hand. It’s that time. It’s Time to talk about the T in our SMART goal setting process, which is the time aspect of our goal setting.

Trivia time!  Who knows what family featured in a 1970’s sitcom featuring a family in a multicolored bus who sang together had this phrase in their theme song?  The 70’s?  Really?  How is that relevant? I’ve always been a reader, and for Christmas one year, I got a set of books featuring the Partridge Family. […]

January marked National Mentoring Month, and despite the circumstances this year, we were able to do a few things to honor the occasion, including: Implementing virtual mentoring at select schools Continue to support and participate in the great work of the Sioux 52 initiative Writing to employers in the Sioux Falls area to encourage them […]

Change is hard. That’s a big reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail. And it’s also why I’m encouraging you to take a different direction when it comes to setting your goals and making changes.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about the process of setting goals, and how to make the changes we […]

Back in the day, many days ago, I wanted nothing more than to be the junior cheerleader.

Mary and Erin have been matched in the Better Together Program for nearly two years. In that relatively short amount of time, the two have developed a wonderful friendship. Mary, the neighbor, has always been a very independent person. She is an only child and moved away from home soon after high school to explore […]

Maybe you remember a few years back during the World Cup, there was an announcer who became well known for his cry of “GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLL” when his team would score. What a jubilant feeling!  Of course, professional soccer players are highly focused on scoring.  They know what their goal is when they step on the field.  […]

Are you SMARTer than a fifth grader?  Anyone remember that show?  Adults had to compete against fifth grade kids to answer general knowledge questions.  Guess who usually won? Yes, it was the kids. When my son was in elementary school, he had to bring home his planner every day for me to see. It had […]

Ah, resolutions.  Friend or enemy?  Are you a resolution maker, or a person that just says no to the ritual of extreme (and often unrealistic) goal setting and the eventual failure? New Year’s resolutions can be both helpful and hurtful, depending on how we approach them.  Goals are good things to have, but it’s important […]

In October, LSS began a yearlong celebration of a century of service—100 years of bearing witness to how life stories take shape. We began featuring employees on our website and social media in celebration of their employment anniversaries. Read more about some celebrations here. We are glad they chose LSS to further their personal mission as well. Their voices, perspectives and fond memories are important and matter.

We can all agree this year has been one for the ages. And while many are ready to flip the calendar to 2021, it is important to take a moment to thank a few Sioux Falls businesses and organizations that helped us along the way this past year. LSS Mentoring provides an activity card for […]

I’m going to go there.  I know it’s a bit of a hot subject right now, but there just isn’t any way around it.  Let’s talk about masks.  I don’t know where you are on the matter, and frankly, I’m not here to convert you one way or the other. 

We pray everyone will experience Peace this season.

Watched any good horror movies lately?  More specifically, are you into zombie flicks?  Zombie movies?  Eh, whatever.  If that’s your thing, then great.  Not mine.  And then we seemed to go through this whole phase where the world seemed to embrace the idea that there really was an impending zombie apocalypse headed our way. 

Our students studied health this past month, which I found appropriate as I asked my students this past week what they were thankful for.  Health was their number one answer! Even as we enter the coldest months of the year, always rampant with flus and colds, and we face a new virus, we are still […]

As we all know, November 3 was voting day.  We were reminded that many people participate in this privilege.  This day marked the first time for many new Americans to vote in their democracy.  It was a privilege to be celebrated and the results were greatly anticipated.

November is National Adoption Month.

As we continue on with conversations regarding home maintenance, this week is a perfect time to discuss one specific topic – snow removal.  Tuesday we had a fairly significant snow event with (officially) 4.5 inches of snow in Sioux Falls.  The air and ground were still warm enough that the first snow quickly melted.

Congratulations to Rod Nold and Trevon and Cheryl Nold and T on being the 2020 Outstanding Matches!  This month marks eight years of love, energy and care given by Rod and Cheryl Nold to their mentees — kids who would have been strangers if not for their commitment to the community and this program.

Some call it old school.  To be honest, I use the term ‘old school’ myself.  I’ll even use it to describe myself.  Don’t get me wrong – technology is great.  But when it comes to education, you just can’t beat face-to-face, live classes.  However, online self-directed classes provide for flexible schedules and are potentially more efficient.

People struggle to spend money on their homes when they don’t absolutely have to. But they SHOULD! Find out what you should be looking for and also how you can get a free resource to help you protect your investment in your home.

By mentoring someone, you can have a positive impact on that person’s life, and maybe even your own. October 27th is National Mentoring day.

Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church upholds its name.  A couple of years ago, Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church had set aside money in their yearly Outreach budget to support a new refugee family.  However, this year in light of the pandemic, an alternative was needed for the designated funds. 

Adoption and Birthparent services is where LSS started 100 years ago.

About one year ago, LSS expanded its mentoring options by adding LSS Climb to our programming. LSS Climb allows for kids ages 7-14 to be matched with a caring, adult mentor. Matches meet in the community, spending about four hours per month together doing a variety of activities. This program would not be possible without […]

Unless you live in a forest of nothing but conifers (pines, spruce, cedar), you know the leaves are falling like rain right now.  I love the fall colors.  I love the smell of dry leaves when I’m out for a walk (fortunately, not much for allergies). But I also live in South Dakota. 

Temps are dropping.  Leaves are changing colors.  The geese are flying south.  There is a certain bite in the air.  I love the fall!  But the changing of the season also comes with certain preparations.  I live in South Dakota.  I just know the snow is coming.  It’s going to be cold.  Not just chilly, […]

The pandemic can be isolating for a lot of people, especially older adults who are living alone. A program from the Sioux Empire United Way through Lutheran Social Services called Better Together is hoping to help.

What are you waiting for? The benefits of mentoring will not only give back to your mentee, but also to your community, and even to you.

Did you see our recent social media post regarding Pringles?  It was kind of an interesting factoid that, while most of us include Pringles in the potato chip family and they are in fact potato-based, the can’t actually be labeled as ‘potato chips’.  It’s actually a Food and Drug Administration rule (the things our government […]

Jenna Martin and her Better Together neighbor LaVonne, were recently interviewed. The two talk with Michelle Madsen about their relationship, why Better Together is important and what they do together. Take a few minutes to watch this video!

Flexibility.  What comes to mind when you read that word?  Maybe you think of a circus performer twisting their body in a myriad of positions that shouldn’t be possible.  Maybe you think about the stretches that are often a part of a workout routine.  Maybe you think about the last time you slipped on the […]

Seeking help for your adopted child, for yourself as an adoptive parent or birth parent is not a sign of weakness.

If you haven’t read my last blog post, it refers to our impending move as required by my daughter (said only somewhat tongue-in-cheek) and the school boundary changes.  Well, I’m happy to say things are moving ahead.  We have found a great house and it looks like we are going to be able to stay […]

Are your kids going to the school you want them to attend? Is that changing with the new school boundaries? A potential issue in any school district, here are a few things to think about as you consider where your kids will attend and whether open enrolling or even a move really are the right decisions for you.

As temps come down headed into fall, chances are that your electric bill is coming down to. And it will be great on your budget. But now is the time to take a bigger look so you are ready when the temps drop and the gas bill goes up again.

After a weird, weird summer of things sort of happening or not happening at all, it was like a quick snap back to reality as I watched the posts of all of my social media connections who have delivered their kids to college.  Whether it is the first year or the fourth of drop-off, it […]