Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan

June 10, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan, which recently released a powerful statement about the death of George Floyd and the ongoing struggle for racial equity.

LSS of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan provides a wide array of holistic services, including programming for children and families, people suffering from addiction, refugees, people with disabilities, and seniors. For generations, LSS has been addressing the states’ most complex challenges with the core values to act compassionately, serve humbly, and lead courageously.

LSS President and CEO Héctor Colón demonstrated that courageous leadership with a recent statement he shared with LSS employees, the board of directors, community members, and the media. In the statement, Colón shares his thoughts on George Floyd’s tragic death, and he begins by reading Floyd’s last words as he died at the hands of the police in Minneapolis. Colón says that his heart pains seeing the video and reports of Floyd’s death, as well as the larger story of racial and ethnic disparities that continue to exist in our justice system, healthcare system, and other systems in society.

Colón recognizes that his experience as a person of color differ from the experiences of George Floyd and others in the African American community, but he can identify with some of the racial and ethnic injustices. He relives some of his own experiences with racial injustice, including being needlessly stopped and aggressively searched by the police, having obscenities and racial slurs yelled and him, and being prohibited entry from establishments due to his race.

Colón is hopeful that the country can unite to address complex challenges in our society, and that some good can come from this tragic event. He calls on the viewer to look to systems and policies that foster the conditions in which senseless violence against people of color are allowed to occur, and to act courageously to change those systems. Colón quotes Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He encourages us to peacefully seek justice, and to act compassionately in the fight for racial equality.

Thank you to Héctor Colón and all the staff at Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan who continue to act compassionately, serve humbly, lead courageously, and stand in support of the infinite worth of black lives.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of New York

June 15, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY), which is making efforts to recognize the unsung heroes of the pandemic.

Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY) has sustained and even amplified its much-needed services in New York throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. LSSNY continues to serve its community, including the formerly homeless, people struggling with addiction, immigrants and refugees, people living with mental illness, families who are food insecure, and children in foster care.

Though they are providing crucial services in New York, social services providers are often overlooked. People thank doctors and nurses for their important work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they forget about other care providers like social workers, case managers, and many others who are continuing their essential work. At the beginning of April, LSSNY started a series in which they recognize those unsung heroes in their midst.

Last week, LSSNY recognized Sandra Bisono, a case planner for LSSNY’s foster care program. For the last two years, Sandra has juggled part-time work at LSSNY and full-time graduate school, and she graduated this year with her masters in social work from Fordham University. LSSNY recently promoted Sandra to a foster care supervision position, a job she has worked hard to achieve and truly earned. Sandra has always stepped up to take on additional work to support the program, and is willing to help whenever needed.

During COVID-19, Sandra has gone the extra mile for her clients, including a 5+ hour’s long trip to the emergency room with an 11-year-old girl when a foster parent couldn’t leave her other children at home alone. She maintains her composure amidst the challenges COVID-19 presents so she can serve her clients well. Fordham University’s alumni magazine also recently recognized Sandra in a piece about alumni on the front lines of the pandemic.

Thank you to LSSNY employees like Sandra Bisono who are committed to the community they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to LSSNY for elevating their work!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of Nevada

June 16, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of Nevada (LSSN), which is providing food pantry services every day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lutheran Social Services of Nevada (LSSN) has provided services in Las Vegas for more than 25 years, and is a trusted source of support in the community. It began with a small group of dedicated volunteers wanting to provide food and clothing to their neighbors in need, and has since expanded to provide a wide array of services, including supports for low-income individuals and families, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities.

LSSN is well-known for its significant contributions to food security in Las Vegas. Food programs include an online food pantry called DigiMart, mobile food distribution events, nutrition classes, live cooking demonstrations, and meal programs for seniors. As the need for food assistance increased due to the recent economic downturn, LSSN expanded its services to meet that need. It suspended its normal registration requirements for DigiMart and increased the food pantry’s size significantly, and transferred Cooking Matters classes to Zoom.

The Partnership for Food Safety Education recognized LSSN on World Food Safety Day, June 7, for its contribution to food security in Las Vegas. The organization highlighted LSSN employee, Nicolas Salas, as a 2020 food safety hero. Nicolas provides food services to pantry shoppers each day during the COVID-19 shutdown. He is the first in the building and the last to leave, and keeps to pantry organized and efficient so shoppers can have a joyful experience at LSSN.

Thank you to LSSN for serving your community’s nutritional needs, and especially to Nicolas Salas for his tireless work at the food pantry!