LSS Refugee Client, Arif Faizi, Featured in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Hundreds of Afghan refugees have come to the United States and have been given support by Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) over the past couple of years. Each individual and family has a unique story full of challenges, successes, dreams, and realities. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently shared the heartwarming story of Arif Faizi and how LSS went the extra mile to give him a new life in Wisconsin.
Arif Faizi was paralyzed in a car crash in Afghanistan several years ago, making it difficult for him to get around without help from family and friends. Upon arriving in Wisconsin through the LSS Refugee Resettlement program, Faizi’s struggles were shared among the organization. How could LSS help get Faizi and his family the support they needed to succeed in their new home?
One day, LSS President and CEO Héctor Colón spoke with Kyle Weatherly as the two spent time together on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. Weatherly wanted to donate to LSS to help with Afghan refugee resettlement. However, he didn’t want to give a general donation; he wanted to help one family.
Colón then connected with Mary Flynn, program manager for LSS Refugee Resettlement. She thought of Fiazi, who needed a specialized wheelchair to get around and improve his health and way of life. The rest, as they say, is history. You can read the story by clicking the link below!
Third Year in a Row! LSS Named Best and Brightest Company to Work For
For Immediate Release
Lutheran Social Services Named Winner of Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® in Milwaukee for Third Year in a Row
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (April 19, 2023) – For the third consecutive year, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) has been officially recognized as one of the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR). LSS is one of only 15 Wisconsin companies to earn the 2023 award, which goes to organizations that provide “exceptional human resource practices and an impressive commitment to their employees,” according to the NABR.
The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® identifies LSS as a Milwaukee-area organization that displays “a commitment to excellence and employee enrichment,” areas the NABR identifies and honors as part of the program. Organizations are assessed on several categories, including diversity, work-life balance, communication and many more. Through determination, exceptional leadership, and daily ingenuity, the Best and Brightest like LSS are seen as ideal organizations that “epitomize Better Business. Richer Lives. Strong Communities.”
“I am so appreciative of everything our LSS colleagues do each and every day throughout our two-state reach to serve people who have incredible odds stacked against them,” said LSS President and CEO Héctor Colón. “Because of them, we are able to do this great work now and in the future. They care so much about one another and the nearly 30,000 people we help each year. The leadership team and our board are focused on ensuring LSS is a Workplace of Choice today, tomorrow and for many years to come.”
In 2022, LSS commemorated its 140th year of Servant-Leadership. Across three centuries since its inception in 1882, LSS has empowered people to live their best lives offering a path to recovery, safe and affordable homes, forever families, and independence.
Nominations for the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” are accepted across the United States and broken down by various regions. Employees then complete a survey to calculate an organization’s score to compare with its peers in a particular geographic location. Historically about 10% of all nominations received make the winners list.
ABOUT LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES
LSS is called to serve with compassion and courage. Every year, tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan come to LSS with incredible odds stacked against them. With 140 years of proven results as a social service provider, more than 90% of the people served say LSS improves the quality of their lives. For more information, visit LSSwis.org.
Tim Muma, PR Specialist
LSS Adoption Family Earns 2022 Governor’s Award
Carl and Marcella BlomWillis were 2022 recipients of the Governor’s Outstanding Adoptive Parent Award in Wisconsin, one of six families honored by the state. In working with Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan (LSS), Carl and Marcella’s 20-year devotion to foster care and adoption parallels the dedication LSS shares in strengthening families.
Tanya Meyervandeurzen, a social worker for LSS, nominated the BlomWillis family for the award through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). Speaking of Carl and Marcella, Tanya said it is a privilege to work with them, and “their home is open, warm, and friendly. It is filled with an overwhelming sense of love and commitment to all of their children.” Tanya’s role through LSS continues to be a substantial factor in the BlomWillis story.
“Our family is eternally grateful for Tanya and the role she played in our family’s journey,” Marcella said. “She was always incredibly responsive and warm. Our entire family came to adore her for the time we worked together.”
Tanya and her many colleagues across Wisconsin live for the opportunity to help the more than 300 children LSS serves in public adoption. These children are between pre-adoptive foster homes and county foster homes. Families like Carl and Marcella’s are vital, with so many children needing foster homes and “forever” homes through adoptions.
The BlomWillis family is full of love – and kids – with two biological children and seven adopted members. In a unique twist to their two-decade welcoming spirit, they recently adopted two children of one of their former foster daughters. They understand and value the connection between birth parents and their children as a cornerstone for long-term success through foster care and adoption.
None of the families welcome children into their homes to earn praise or win awards; however, it’s essential to recognize their efforts when possible.
“All adoptive families deserve to be celebrated,” DCF Secretary Emilie Anderson said. “We appreciate the dedication and commitment of adoptive parents, as well as those who work with families in the adoption process.”
That includes organizations like LSS, which has proudly served the community and assisted with adoptions for over 100 years as they continue strengthening families through Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The award and overall success require a total team effort between families and LSS.
“We are very humbled by this recognition,” Marcella BlomWillis added. “We’re very grateful for LSS and the role they’ve played twice in growing our family.”
LSS Helping Afghan Refugees (Fox 6 News Story)
West Allis, WI – As tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan begin their journey to the United States, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan (LSS) has been preparing to serve those who may settle in Wisconsin. Fox 6 News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin covered the story and spoke with Héctor Colón, President and CEO of LSS.
Though the individuals and families fleeing war will first stop at Fort McCoy, many will end up in different parts of the state where LSS can support them. LSS helps to get the refugees on their feet and moving forward toward true independence.
“We connect them to all of the resources that will help them be as independent and self-sufficient as possible,” Colón said. “We help these individuals come to Wisconsin, to our country, because they’re fleeing from war and persecution.”
You can watch the full news story below:
LSS Foster Care Going Strong, Needs Loving Parents
Eau Claire, WI – There are more than 5,000 foster kids needing a home in Wisconsin, and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan (LSS) is doing everything they can to provide loving parents across the state through foster care.
WEAU 13 in Eau Claire recently ran a TV news story featuring LSS Foster Care by speaking with Alissa and Art Broughton, foster parents who themselves were raised in a foster care system. The Broughtons have fostered children for 15 years and understand the vital need for willing parents, especially in Wisconsin where the number of children in need far outweigh the available homes that are available.
Many people are unsure if they can handle being a foster parent, but Alissa says in the story, “It’s not as scary as it sounds. And the paper work looks like a lot and the classes look like a lot, but when it comes down to it, it really is just for the children.”
Heather Yeager, Regional Director of LSS, told WEAU 13 that they receive referrals on a daily basis for foster care, but there just aren’t enough homes right now to place children. Yaeger added, “We have kids from all dimensions of diversity, we need foster homes that are divers to work with the children, too.”
You can click the link below to watch the news story and see the wonderful benefits of becoming a foster parent. There are thousands of wonderful children in need of homes and they all have a unique story.
If you have interest in becoming a foster parent or just want to get some information, contact LSS at 888-746-2850 and they will be happy to give you all the details you need and even walk you through the process.