Archive for March, 2011

Thanks for the Crawfish, Coffee, and Cirque tickets

March 30, 2011

new life crawfish We just love it when this stuff happens. Recently, several Central Texas businesses have generously donated food, time, and services to fund activities and events to benefit the children we serve. These unsung heroes deserve a shout-out for their behind-the-scenes, under-the-radar generosity.

Dave LeBlanc of the Boiling Pot in Austin helped the New Life Children’s Center girls celebrate Mardi Gras with a Fat Tuesday crawfish boil. Lisa Brown, director of volunteers at New Life, had planned to buy fresh crawfish and cook it at the Center.  But Dave insisted on preparing the 25 lbs of crawfish, 30 lbs of shrimp, and 20 lbs of corn and potatoes himself, and included bibs and butcher paper for a whopping total of $50. What could be better than boiled Cajun-style seafood dumped right on the table? Except maybe getting to eat it with your hands? It was fun, spicy, and messy. The New Life girls loved it, and so did the staff who dug in right alongside them.

Any event that benefits New Life always includes a magnanimous outpouring from the Starbucks in New Braunfels. Beautiful Starbucks gift baskets for the “Make a Difference” gala. Coffee and pastries for volunteers and committee members. And the Starbucks in Bulverde donated all the sweets and coffee for hundreds of golfers who attended the area’s “Tomorrow’s Child” Golf Benefit. Hot java, cool people, doing things that are good for the planet and their Canyon Lake neighbors.

Bruce Kuemmel, owner of Austin Printing and Mailing, consistently gives LSS great quality printing at pricing a nonprofit can love. Bruce goes above and beyond by donating his printing services on a regular basis. Recently, the company contributed a generous number of entertainment tickets to the children and grownups LSS serves. Bruce says, “I want to thank LSS for helping Austin Printing & Mailing to make this all possible— together we can make good things happen for all kinds of deserving people.” 

These are just three of LSS’s unsung heroes. There are many more, and for all of them we are eternally grateful. Our openhearted donors and vendors truly make a difference every day.

Kidsave Summer Miracles meeting on Saturday is Cancelled

March 28, 2011

Important Note: Although the meeting tomorrow is cancelled, anyone interested in hosting a child can contact Larry Rawlinson: or call 512.426-1160.

clip_image002Love at first sight. It’s a common phenomenon in literature, movies, and song lyrics … and it’s the power behind the” Kidsave Summer Miracles” program, now recruiting families to host children in the Austin area.

Kidsave Summer Miracles provides kids ages 8-13, who are growing up in orphanages in Colombia, an opportunity to stay with families for five weeks during the summer. During the visit, hosts, Kidsave staff, and dedicated volunteers work diligently to find adoptive families for these children.

Join us this Saturday, April 2nd at an informational meeting at the LSS Austin office to learn more:

Saturday, April 2, 2011, at Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc.

10:30 a.m. to noon

8305 Cross Park Drive, Austin, TX 78754

Since 1999, more than 1,600 children have traveled to the US as part of the Summer Miracles program, and 80% have found adoptive families. The children attend summer camp and get to experience life in the United States.  Host families work together to support the children and each other while they are here and act as the children’s advocates in finding families. 

Countless children in Colombia have lost parents due to civil conflict and AIDS, while others are abandoned as a result of extreme poverty, parental drug abuse, or arrest. Others are abandoned after serving time as child combatants. Most of these children have little hope for adoption in their own country because they are more than six years old.

Kidsave provides support to participating families, collaborating with social workers, home study agencies, child welfare advocates, health professionals, and government officials to find safe, appropriate families. Hosts must pass thorough screening, including child abuse and police clearances, and attend training.

Love at first sight. When it happens, some people call it a miracle. Please volunteer to help us bring kids from Colombia to the Austin area this summer, and make some miracles happen.

RSVP to LARRY RAWLINSON at or call 512.426-1160 and leave a message.


The Calling Now on KINDLE

March 28, 2011

  the Calling on KindleThe Calling: Live a Life of Significance is the newest book written by Dr. Kurt Senske, our CEO at Lutheran Social Services. The book has become a popular Bible study for groups and congregations because of its natural applicability to day-to-day living, a series of self-evaluation exercises, and some concrete ideas about how to lead the best life we can.

Now, those bookworms who have made friends with e-reading devices, and space-challenged travelers limited to carry-on luggage will be happy to know that The Calling is now available on Amazon’s Kindle.

The appeal of Kindle and other e-readers is the simplicity of having your own portable bookshelf. And since leading a “life of simplicity” is one step toward discovering your own calling, this format for the book is a natural fit!

Click here for The Calling on Kindle.

Buena Vida Celebrations

March 24, 2011

St. Paddy’s Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Sixty participants and 10 companion volunteers at Buena Vida Adult Day Center in El Paso were wearin’ the green and havin’ a carnival. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and Buena Vida was decked out in Irish style, the perfect place for the elderly and disabled day residents to celebrate the holiday with games, food, fun, and friendship.

Buena Vida’s activity director, Gloria Soto, coordinated the carnival, which included a dolphin ring toss, carnival roulette, and a golden pot throw with prizes and goodies for everyone. The most popular carnival event was the pie-throwing contest. BVcarnival

Participants relished the opportunity to throw whipped cream pies at Ms. Soto, who gets the award for “best sport of the day.”



Celebre La Buena Vida TODAYBV2011

The St. Patrick’s Day Carnival is just one example of the activities that define Buena Vida Adult Day Care Center. An annual fundraiser “Celebre La Buena Vida,” helps to fund these activities. And it’s all happening today!

Here’s the scoop:

TODAY, Thursday, March 24, 2011

Camino Real Hotel

101 South El Paso Street
El Paso, Texas 79901

Complimentary parking at Camino Real Hotel

Light supper buffet 5:30p.m.

Auction begins 6:30 p.m.

Live music by New Breed Jazz Alliance

Individual reservation: $30 – purchase online or contact Debbie Telles at 915-373-9220.

Walk for Hope and the Nelson Center

March 23, 2011

Nelson t-shirt Walk, run, get the T-shirt … this Saturday, March 26th, is the first annual WALK of HOPE for the Nelson Children’s Center in Denton.

Important Info:

When & Where: The fun starts at 9: a.m. at the Bear Creek Park in Keller.

Distance: 5K

Cost: $30 Registration/$7 T-Shirt.

Registration: Register early or day of the event.

Email for more info


Nelson Center is the sole beneficiary of the funds raised by the WALK, and it is our goal to raise community awareness for the Nelson Children’s Center as well as $$ for the kids healing at the Center.

Tell your friends about Walk of Hope on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other websites.

We encourage everyone to come out this Saturday to Walk for Hope.

Bring the dog, bring your friends, and don’t forget the sunscreen!


Making of the Nelson Center Video: Your behind-the-scenes look

March 22, 2011

I was wrapping up a four-hour-long video shoot with Rebekah Poling, the volunteer director for the Nelson Children’s Center, with a tour of the new Educational Resource Center. We had already done about eight interrupted takes, due to planes flying overhead and loud 18-wheelers whizzing by in the background. We were both tired and ready to finish this video, which would hopefully be good enough to show at our upcoming event, the Caring for Kids Benefit.In the middle of our ninth take, I noticed something in the background, ruining my shot. A rather large critter was making its way across the play yard… a possum (or opossum?) was running amuck. Aren’t they supposed to be shy? And nocturnal?Of course, Rebekah could not miss this opportunity to show off her possum-herding expertise. Who knows, she may have a career in wildlife management yet!Caring 4 Kids  purple logo About “Caring for Kids”:  This annual event benefits the abused and neglected children, ages 5-15, who live at the Nelson Center, a residential treatment facility located in Denton.When: April 2, 2011, 6:00 p.m.Where: American Airlines C. R. Smith Museum, Ft. Worth, TXWhat’s Happening: cocktails, dinner, live & silent auctions, “in-flight” activitiesClick here to reserve your place or call (800) 938-5777. Reservation deadline is March 25.

Quiet Little Boy from Bulgaria Needs a Home

March 16, 2011

andrew2 Five-year-old Andrew (not his real name and picture) is a little guy who was placed in the orphanage shortly after his birth on January 23, 2006. It’s a bit of a mystery at this point, but Andrew does not speak. His hearing and vision are just fine, and he’s a “happy, calm, smiling, positive” little boy who interacts with both children and adults, enjoys music, and clearly has “favorites” among the staff.

Andrew’s self-help skills are quite good – he gets dressed and undressed by himself, and folds and puts away his clothes and toys. He doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body.

Andrew is able to recognize and label familiar objects, body parts, toys, birds, and animals. He is receiving speech and language therapy. Sometimes, he attempts to sing, using part of the words in a song.

We are looking for a family with the patience and motivation to work with Andrew and help him along the way to reaching his fullest potential. Are you a member of that special family?

We would like the opportunity to tell you more about Andrew, and share his picture and video with interested families. Email or call 800-396-4611to find out all about the twins, and the other available, waiting Bulgarian children. Learn more about international adoption at

They let the good times roll at Trinity Place

March 11, 2011

Trinity Mardi Gras Group Residents of the Trinity Place Apartments in Round Rock didn’t have to make a trip to New Orleans to get into the carnival spirit. Mardi Gras was celebrated in the Trinity Place community room, which was transformed into the French Quarter by assistant manager Kym Brown and resident decorators Jeanice Quinn and Pina D’Amico. THe French QuarterOn Bourbon Street  Tea, lemonade, and coffee flowed, and manager Sherry Houston fixed the favorite foods of the Big Easy: gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice.

Houston also headed up a crew of residents Debora Graham, Irene Murray, and Rosemary Lievens, to make the traditional beignets and King Cake for the event. Making Beignets

Mr. Otis Hodge was crowned “King of the 2011 Trinity Place Mardi Gras Party” after he found the prize in his piece of King Cake. King Otis

All 33 Mardi Gras revelers, with the Trinity Place staff and visitors joining in, had a wonderful lunch in the company of their friends and neighbors. Food, fun, and friendship – three ingredients that make Trinity Place such a great place to live – not just on Fat Tuesday, but every day of the week! Welcome to Trinity Place

Trinity Place, operated by Lutheran Social Services, is an independent living community for low-income seniors and adults with disabilities who qualify for HUD 202/8 program. For more information call 512-244-0366.

Senior Community in Spring is Going to the Dogs

March 9, 2011

 vgf agility dog

Some special four-legged visitors will showcase their moves and maneuvers at a show at The Village at Gleannloch Farms in Spring, Texas, Saturday, March 26. The senior living community is hosting a Dog Agility Show, bringing together a field of furry athletes and their trainers to show off the canines’ amazing agility ability. The show is FREE and open to the public. Wait until you see what these top dogs can do: They slalom through obstacle courses strewn with ramps, teeter-totters, tunnels, and tubes. They fly by at the speed of light. They jump through hoops and over hurdles in a veritable canine track meet.  vgf agility dog2

Agility dog competition is a relatively new sporting event, now recognized as an official sports category by national groups such as the American Kennel Club. The agility competition is open to all breeds from 15 months old and up. The younger dogs are allowed to compete as “Novices.” The more experienced dogs are in the “Elite” category and are expected to exhibit total course mastery. The Houston area boasts some of the top agility dog trainers and competitors in the world.

Patricia Horton, organizer of the event and an agility dog trainer in her own right, is bringing a field of 15-20 agility dog performers to The Village at Gleannloch Farms, where her dad and mom, Charlie and Lois Horton, reside. “Everyone who comes out will get a chance to see all levels of competitors, including a champion Sheltie named ‘Chase’ who has competed at the international level. We will also have several dogs who are tops in their breed, such as agility champion ‘Wilson T-Bone Wood’. Wilson is a White West Highland Terrier who has been ranked in the top five Westies in agility for the past two years.” Horton said. “But I have to say that many in the audience get the biggest kick out of watching the younger dogs give it a go—they’re so cute and conscientious.”

“Our community is totally dog friendly and many of our residents keep their own pets,” said Kathy Johanns, executive director of The Village at Gleannloch Farms, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) operated by Lutheran Social Services. “They are just crazy about dogs and they’ve been looking forward to this program for weeks.”

Dog agility competition is a great spectator sport, so if you live in the Houston area, plan to come out to be entertained by this amazing display of doggy dexterity!

About the event:

FREE and open to the public

March 26, 2011

10 a.m. to noon

9505 Northpointe Boulevard

Spring, TX 77379

map and printable driving directions

Phone (877) 312-2140

Fax (281) 569-2998

Make A Difference Gala: The 2011 British Invasion of the Austin Music Hall

March 4, 2011

MADThe Eggmenweb Sergeant Pepper and Yoko put in an appearance. The Eggmen proved why they’ve earned the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Cover Band” award seven times. There were more go-go boots, mini-skirts, peace symbols, and bell-bottoms than you could count. And almost 400 revelers came out to boogie like it was 1960-something.

The Make A Difference “All You Need is Love” gala, benefiting the New Life Children’s Center in Canyon Lake, might have taken place on February 26th 2011, but it was definitely a trip back in time. The Austin Music Hall was decked out in a flurry of flowers, rainbow colors, and all things John, Paul, George and Ringo. MAD committeeweb The committee behind this grooviest of galas included Jane Belanger, Melanie Daude, Kerrin Gaenzle, Cheri Grant, Betty Meyer, Cathy Reynolds, Alanna Frater-Cote, and Committee Chair Laurel Reed. The girls at New Life Children’s Center and all of us at LSS are feeling the LOVE for this dedicated and creative crew.

CS1_3007 Lending their three-part harmony to the night, the Kyle Sisters (Mary Margaret, Bodie, and Frances Ann) lead off with a song, then got down to business as auctioneers for the live auction.


Dr. Kurt Senske, chief executive officer of LSS, told the audience a little about Trauma-Informed Care, the revolutionary trauma-focused therapy that is being implemented at New Life. CS1_3075The entire staff will receive extensive Trauma-Informed Care training with funds raised at the event.  Kevin Benz joined him in a special plea to help treat the “mind, body, and soul” of the New Life girls. A generous, and anonymous, donor offered to match ALL donations to New Life for the next 60 days, up to $100,000! Everyone, please help us take advantage of this enormous blessing and DONATE TODAY.

MADBranda web

Most importantly, the night belonged to the young girls residing at New Life, where they are placed, some after as many as 15 different placements, to heal their wounds and souls.   Honored guest and former New Life resident, Branda Miller, shared her story, crediting her time and the staff at New Life with turning her life around. “New Life literally saved my life,” says Branda, who now attends Lubbock Christian University on a scholarship. As the song says: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done …”

All Branda Needed Was Love

Those who missed Make A Difference 2011, and those who want to relive the event, can see photos online and read Michael Barnes’s Out and About blog in the Austin American-Statesman.

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