Stability + Positive Relationships = Success


While growing up, Trae remembers his family constantly moving. He and his five siblings changed schools each year as they tried to assimilate to their new surroundings. Adding to the uncertainty of this lifestyle, he recalls his parents were always arguing. When his parents separated, the stress of Trae’s home life weighed heavily on his relationships.

Trae was in constant conflict with his mother, when one day she told him to leave. Trae said, “I remember that vividly.” He made an attempt to go back home the next day and she seemed concerned about where he had slept. He said, “After that, I’d get kicked out all the time. Other than that first night, she wouldn’t even ask about where I had stayed.”

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Caregivers need Support and Time to Recharge

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Six years ago, Maggie, almost 90, left her own home to move near her daughter, Lynn, a community college teacher in northwestern Minnesota. Maggie had been living alone, was growing frail, and most friends and family near by had either moved or passed on.

“My mother is strong willed, a tough gal who doesn’t want help, doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone,” said Lynn. “I had suggested that she move near me for quite awhile. Finally, she decided it was her idea, and we moved her near me.”

Within months, Lynn realized Maggie’s needs were dominating her time and energy. Maggie had questions and worries. She had to be accompanied to doctor appointments, and needed help with household matters, and finances. It was stressful to reverse roles.

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Providing Tools for Success


Newborn Jack was found, laid on a bed of flowers. Nate was found in a desolate area. Both abandoned by their birth parents, they would spend more than a decade of their life in an orphanage.

Jack’s vision problems were so severely neglected, he was unable to see to complete his homework. Scoliosis plagues Nate’s body and he has never been able to dress and shower himself. The boys, living together in close quarters in the orphanage, found solace in one another. Nate would help Jack with his homework and Jack would shower and dress Nate. They were like brothers the way they’d bicker, play games together and look out for each other.

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Confidence and Trust at Camp Knutson


When Mona and Kurt Hjerpe brought their daughter, Meghan, to Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota’s Camp Knutson for the first time, they were a bit nervous. They hoped she would make friends, be alright without them and learn skills to enhance her independence.

But what was different for the Hjerpes from many parents, is that Meghan has Down syndrome. That meant that though they talked about camp, and Meghan was excited to go, they weren’t sure exactly how much she understood about being away from them for a week. As a teenager with a disability, Meghan had not experienced being on her own without her close-knit family nearby.

Camp Knutson partners with the Down Syndrome Foundation to provide summer camping experiences for young people with Down syndrome. Last year, Camp Knutson served over 1,000 campers with medical or developmental needs.

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Disaster Response, Teaching Preparedness and Resiliency

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Sisters Jalayisa (5) and Marissa (10) lived in Columbia, South Carolina with their family in 2015 when a ‘1,000 year flood’ came pouring down. For almost a week water fell from the sky in sheets, with more than 18 inches of rain reported in the area over just one 24-hour period. The girls didn’t fully understand what was happening. Their schools were closed. The power was out and they couldn’t leave their house for five days as the water was up to their door. Major roads were inaccessible. After the rain subsided it left the Boyd family with damaged pipes and mold that forced them to move. The girls wondered why so many bad things were happening all around them.

Disaster changes lives — especially for children who need to process their experiences in order to begin the healing process and rebuild hope for their future. Camp Noah, a program of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, is designed to help children heal from disaster and trauma by focusing on building resiliency skills and helping children prepare for whatever storms in life they may experience.

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Eastside Financial Center expands career development for job seekers

Jennifer Davis healthcare field

Jennifer Davis loves helping people by working in the healthcare industry. Through a special career development program at the Eastside Financial Center in St. Paul, she mapped out her career path that started with certification as a nursing assistant and more recently, a phlebotomist. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse.

The Eastside Financial Center, a program of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), is helping more people like Jennifer by expanding its already successful Bridges to Career Opportunities program with support from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The $100,000 grant is designed to continue eliminating educational and training barriers to ensure more people of color, women and people with disabilities have opportunities for successful careers.

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Teaching Children Resiliency

Resiliency houseChildren are constantly learning. Every day, new lessons teach them more about who they are and how to respond to what happens in their lives. However, unexpected situations may throw off a child’s normal routine, leaving them feeling nervous, scared or unsafe. For kids with emotional or behavioral challenges, these feelings of uncertainty and loss of control can cause an even greater impact at home, in school or out in community. Teaching children resiliency – how to cope with life’s difficulties in a healthy way – is important to ensuring their overall well-being, today and in the future.
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