You may have heard us describe the LSS mission as a ministry of presence. But what exactly does that mean? Our programs are designed to meet people where they are in life – without judgment, to provide hope and healing, and to offer a chance for them to change their future. But the truth is our ministry is brought to life, sustained and performed by you – our supporters, partners and advocates.
On August 16, we paid tribute to those who breathe life into our mission at our annual LSS Foundation Founders Family & Distinguished Partners luncheon at the Sheraton in Sioux Falls.
The LSS Foundation Founders Family was established in 1994 to honor those who have committed to establishing a lasting legacy with either a significant gift to the LSS Foundation or by planning a gift to LSS beyond their lifetime.
Since its inception, the LSS Foundation has disbursed over $3 million to continue the mission of LSS and this fund continues to grow each year thanks to our many generous supporters who make our mission a part of their legacy.
This year we welcomed two such supporters as new members of the LSS Foundation Founders Family, Larry and Marcia Janssen from Brookings, SD. Larry and Marcia were inducted to the LSS Founders Family because they named LSS as a beneficiary of an ELCA Charitable Gift Annuity. The gift annuity allows the Janssen’s to receive a fixed income each year for life in exchange for a gift to charity with the remaining sum.
Learn more about the LSS Foundation Founders Family.
One of the many blessings of living in South Dakota is living in a community of shared values such as the value of caring compassion for each other. These values are reflected not only in our individuals but in our corporations, our churches and in our communities. At this event, we also celebrated those relationships and paid particular thanks to our 2019 distinguished partners.
Corporate partner of the year
We recognized and honored Grand Prairie Foods, who has been a strong community partner for the LSS Center for New Americans by partnering to offer job opportunities to newly arrived refugees. For more than 10 years, Grand Prairie Foods has gone above and beyond by not only offering employment opportunities to newly arriving refugees but they take extra steps to ensure the success of their new recruits by helping to troubleshoot barriers that arise, by remaining flexible and adaptive to all skill sets, developing mentoring relationships between the new arrivals and offering training and development opportunities for staff.
Our recognition of Grand Prairie Foods goes beyond just providing a supportive, welcoming workplace. Kurt and Valerie have personally stepped forward as passionate advocates for refugees and immigrants. They do that through their leadership roles in the business community, by contacting state legislators and the Congressional delegation and by making long, winter drives to Pierre in order to testify at legislative hearings. They recognize the value and contribution of diversity in our workplace and in our community.
Distinguished Volunteer of the year
Every year LSS recognizes an individual who has made a distinct and lasting difference in the lives touched by LSS. One such volunteer is this year’s award winner Lori Hofer.
Lori has been assisting with our Life Book Project for over seven years. A Life Book is a collection of information, stories, photos, and memories kept together to tell a child’s life story. Life Book pages go to youth living in foster care or residential programs to help them put together their life story. Life Books are important because youth who are not able to live with their birth family can have a hard time keeping information about their life together as they move to different places. A Life Book is a place for youth to collect their information and to add information and pictures as they grow older.
Lori creates themed Life Book pages and she donates over 800 of these pages each year! She has recruited other volunteers and hosts a Life Book Page making event at her house for two days each spring. And in those two days, her group of volunteers put together the pages from kits Lori has prepared. These hand-crafted pages let the youth know that we think their story is important. Lori’s passion and commitment to helping our families and youth in care are amazing. She is truly a blessing to the youth she helps to tell their stories.
Distinguished Faith Partner of the year
LSS is a social ministry of the ELCA. We believe that God’s love compels us to serve and to value all people. Thankfully we have many partners that walk with us on this journey. For the past 12 years, Bishop Zellmer and the staff of the SD Synod have shared in our journey. They have uplifted our work within the Synod, they have encouraged congregations and individuals to provide financial support and they have been by our side in responding to disasters, they have invited us to be part of their gatherings with pastors and church leaders. All the things you would probably expect of the Synod office.
But our recognition of the Bishop and his staff is for more than just being a partner in Lutheran ministry – it is recognition for standing up for people of all faiths and standing against religious discrimination. In January of 2018 we, the SD Synod and LSS, departed from hosting a Lutheran Day at our state capitol and instead sponsored an Interfaith Day. Inviting, not just Protestants and Catholics, but Jews and Hindu, as well as Buddhists and Muslims, to join in fellowship and prayer in our state capital.
Thank you to all our distinguished partners, and thank you to our many wonderful supporters who have committed to creating a lasting legacy of Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities.
Development & Foundation Assistant