You Matter

How many people can say they wake up every day with a sense of purpose?  I can! Every day is different being a Youth Outreach Worker for Lutheran Social Service of MN.

I wake up with excitement knowing I will have opportunities to connect with youth. You see, I grew up in an abusive home and spent many years in the foster care system. I know what it’s like to feel lost, confused and lonely. I relate so well with the young people who come into The REACH Drop-In Center, a place for young people who are either at risk for or experiencing homelessness to receive non-judgmental support and assistance. Whether they need help finding a job, an apartment, or getting connected with other programs and or agencies in the Mankato area, we are here to provide support.

When I was their age, I wanted so badly to feel accepted and I wanted people to believe in me. I had this massive void inside me that was invisible to those I came into contact with, but I felt it to my very core. Deep within my soul I wanted someone to say, “I’m sorry that happened to you. You matter and I BELIEVE in you. No matter how many mistakes you make, you will always be accepted and loved.”

I truly believe this is why I’m so passionate about supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I love building positive relationships with young people and encouraging them. I believe their dreams are important.

The REACH provides a safe space to allow young people to heal, learn, laugh and grow. I have the opportunity to motivate youth, teach them leadership skills and get them involved in advocacy efforts for youth services across the state. There’s nothing better than being a Youth Outreach Worker!

About the Author: 

Tasha Moulton serves as a Youth Outreach Worker for The REACH Youth Outreach Center in Mankato, a place for at-risk youth to get the support and help they need to get back on their feet. Interested in learning more about the program and ways you can support their services? Visit: www.lssmn.org/TheREACH/.

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Deeper Love

“Go in Peace! Serve the Lord!”… these are the instructions I hear, as I leave my weekly worship service, but what does that mean?  Where and how do we start?

Pastor Mary Brown, Director of Congregation Relations, offered this insight and invitation for the Lenten season:

“I don’t give up anything for Lent. …I try instead to “take on” something that will benefit someone else, just as Jesus took on the cross for me. I pray about who I am missing as I go about my daily routine. Who is the stranger looking for a friend that I do not see in my busyness? This is the spiritual practice I observe during Lent: opening my eyes to God’s world anew and “taking on” deeper love for my neighbors.”

In reading her words, I knew I was part of a group effort that speaks to her invitation.

I have volunteered with LSS since 2011, making meals for the youth and staff at the Metro Homeless Youth Safe House, because the idea of helping these young neighbors spoke to my heart.  When I started attending Faith Lutheran Church in Rosemount early in 2015, I found a close knit community with a huge heart, and they were looking for that place to “start”.  They have a wonderful tradition of gathering together for Soup Suppers each Wednesday during Lent as they spend time reflecting on their faith and preparing for the events of Holy Week.  When they expressed their interest in reaching out to the community in some way, these suppers seemed to be the perfect opportunity.  We started sharing this church’s tradition by providing a Soup Supper to the Safe House each week during Lent. All I had to do was arrange the dates with the LSS Volunteer Coordinator on the dinner delivery calendar and deliver the meals to the Safe House once a week.

The Safe House Staff and the youth they are serving receive a wide variety of homemade soups, breads, and goodies.  They love the concept and the bounty…on the last night of our project last year, one Staff member said he had to go on a diet once Lent was over, because the food had been that good!

I love supporting the Safe House’s mission, because I believe that everyone deserves to have a place where they feel safe, accepted, and loved. These youth need to know there are people who care about them and want to help them meet not only their basic needs, but also to be able to reach their full beloved potential.

 

About the Author: 

Karen Piehler- Shaw has been an active Ambassador for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota for many years at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley as well as Faith Lutheran Church in Rosemount. To learn more about becoming an LSS of MN Ambassador, visit www.lssmn.org/Support-LSS/Congregational-Relations/LSS-Ambassadors/.

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Enduring Relationship

My wife Mardeth and I had a delightful time a few weeks ago at Trinity Lutheran Church in Wendell, MN, a rural town with a population of approximately 160, where I was invited to serve as the guest preacher and share a message on behalf of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. It began with the beauty of the morning with frost on the trees and a dusting of snow on the land with “sun dogs” flashing across a wondrous sky. Connie Krusemark, the administrator of the congregation and Dr. Eugene Boe, the part time pastor received us with great hospitality.  We felt very warmly welcomed.

There were about 35 people in attendance in this beautiful rural church; several senior members have already gone south for the winter.  Speaking on the Psalm for the day, Psalm 146, I described the work of LSS of MN and provided a number of stories illustrating the reach of the ministry. Following the service about a dozen members gathered for coffee and some great conversation about LSS.  One senior couple spoke of the children they had adopted through LSS, others inquired about our refugee resettlement program, another member is very active with the LSS Auxiliary in Fergus Falls.  A freewill offering was received in support of that program.

I enjoy these grassroots encounters with my Minnesota neighbors, because they put flesh and blood on the enduring relationship between Lutheran Congregations and LSS. It is our shared ministry of hope that continues to touch individuals and to change lives throughout our state.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Paul J. Dovre served as president of Concordia College from 1975 until his retirement in 1999. An active layperson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Dovre co-chaired the ELCA Task Force on Education from 2003 to 2007 and is currently a member of the boards of Oak Grove Lutheran Schools and the LSS Foundation Board of Trustees. Dovre is an invaluable supporter of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and member of the LSS preaching team.

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Lucky One

 

I recently learned of the Elevator Speech – a sixty-second synopsis of Who You Are. It’s a clever title for an essential part of life: making connections and building relationships – quickly – before running off to the next appointment on our calendar.

When meeting someone new, the “Tell me about yourself, what do you do” question is as predictable as “there will be weather today,” and it’s important to be prepared. Most Google searches on Effective Elevator Speeches come back with pro tips to include details about work you do or the things you most enjoy. I believe if you’re lucky, those two things go hand-in-hand. I count myself a Lucky One.

My Elevator Speech always begins the same, “My life has come full circle; and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is part of my DNA.” I am a proud adoptee; and I owe my life, and the people in it, to the life-affirming work of this organization.

Each day for the last five years I’ve come to work as a writer for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. It’s  a privilege affording me unique opportunities  to meet hundreds of people, invite myself into their lives and be witness to metamorphosis manifesting  through fearless acceptance of growth and change, steadfast dedication to work that can be difficult and challenging, and a humble willingness to take hold of a hand in need.

I enjoy learning about people. It’s one of the reasons I became a writer; a pen and a legal pad go a long way for a curious girl asking questions. In the years I’ve spent a student of humanity, my most profound finding is: the experiences that can seem to separate us also connect us. No matter who we are – the things we’ve seen, felt, heard, said, or done – we all want and need to feel safe, loved and like our unique contributions to this world we share matter to someone, somewhere.

At Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, we work passionately to try and meet those needs for every neighbor who comes through our doors. I am lucky to be just a small cog in the wheel of community built and bridged by this Minnesota touchstone.

It is my sincere hope that each person receiving support from Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota – and those offering it – finds the stability they need for a successful future.  When reciting their own Elevator Speech to a stranger, I hope they also say, “I am a Lucky One.”

 

About the Author:

Mollie Miller works for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota as Marketing and Communications Specialist. She and her twin brother were proudly adopted into a loving family through Lutheran Social Service, an organization she is now proud to be a part of.

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Welcome to Neighbors Together!

My name is Sarah Kretschmann and I will be your editor for the official blog of the Congregational Relations (not to be confused with Congressional Relations- a little different line of work!) Department at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota! I am honored to play a curatorial role in the sharing of stories about the amazing work and partnerships we get to take part in here at LSS.

I began my role as Congregational Relations Associate at LSS just over six months ago. Each and every day, I am able to learn more about the abundance of services this 150 year old social service organization provides. Just when I think I have learned all there is to know about homeless youth services or financial counseling, disaster relief or refugee services; my eyes are opened once more to new ways our service providers are working to provide innovative supports to our neighbors throughout the state.

Our vision at LSS is that all people have the opportunity to live and work in community with dignity, safety, and hope. We work to promote independence and all our work is grounded in partnerships not paternalism. We meet people with grace exactly where they are at and work together toward our shared mission of inspiring hope, changing lives and building community. This is why I am proud to work here.

Through this blog, we hope to share just a few of the many wonderful stories of human selflessness and of God’s grace working in our broken world to bring neighbors together in love and in hope for a better future.

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#DoMoreTogether!

When we band together, we can accomplish anything. We can:

  • Win the fight against teen homelessness.
  • Provide safe and independent housing to individuals with disabilities.
  • Assure that all seniors have a hot meal and companionship as they age.
  • Help children who survive disasters heal and find hope.
  • Give the gift of summer camp to children who might not otherwise experience that joy.
  • Make sure that children who need families find the support and love they need.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota directly touches the lives of 1 in 65 Minnesotans – and we can do more, with your help. On Give to the Max Day 2015, we invite you to support your project of choice atwww.givemn.org/organization/Lssmn

#DoMoreTogether on #GTMD15!


Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota expresses the love of Christ for ALL people through service that inspires hope, changes lives, and builds community. To learn more, visit lssmn.org.


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