LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICE OF MINNESOTA ASSURES CONTINUITY OF SERVICES TO OLDER ADULTS IN NORTH DAKOTA

SPECIAL TO DEVILS LAKE  JOURNAL

DEVILS LAKE – Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) assumed operations on February 1 for the Senior Companion Program in North Dakota, assuring that essential support through this service continues for older adults. The change comes as a result of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota’s decision to close due to significant financial struggles in their affordable housing development services.

“Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota provides a natural home for the Senior Companions program, given its experience in delivering the same services in an adjacent state,” said Bob Otterson, President and CEO, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. “I’ve been in the sandwich generation, and I know firsthand the importance of personal connections for our older adults who feel isolated. I’m so pleased that our colleagues from Minnesota will continue this help to our neighbors in North Dakota.”

The Senior Companion Program, funded by AmeriCorps Seniors, matches trained companion volunteers age 55 and older with other older adults to provide weekly visits and assist with errands, grocery shopping and transportation to appointments to help older adults remain healthy and in their homes. Program volunteers also report being healthier and happier as a result of their service.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota offers a wide variety of services to older adults in Minnesota, including the Senior Companion Program – a service they have operated statewide for 30 years. Currently, 223 volunteers provide weekly support and friendship to 873 older adults in Minnesota. North Dakota’s program will add 370 older adults and 71 volunteers in 32 counties. Four employees from the North Dakota program will be joining Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota to continue services in North Dakota.

“When we learned that Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota decided to close its doors, we immediately reached out to see how we could offer assistance to support individuals who rely on essential care,” said Patrick Thueson, CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “We’re glad to be able to continue the important work of Senior Companions in North Dakota.”

The organization’s 155-year mission of service continues to be strong, vibrant and healthy, Thueson said. Last year, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota served more individuals and families than ever and anticipates continued growth in services that help people live full and abundant lives.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,400 employees and 10,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service helps one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives, and build community. Some services, such as Adoption, Financial Counseling, Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship Options, Pooled Trust – and now Senior Companions – support residents in other states as well. Through its mission, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of LSS, visit www.lssmn.org.   For more information about Senior Companion services, please visit americorpsseniors@lssmn.org or call 1.888.205.3770.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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