About Us

  • FS_VasaChildrensHome

    History

    Changing lives for 145 years
    145 years ago, Eric Norelius took powerful action that has lived
    on in the actions of thousands of others ever since.
  • It all started with children

    Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota traces its history to 1865 when Vasa Lutheran Church near Red Wing opened its church to care for four children in need.

    These children, new immigrants from Sweden, were the four surviving children of Mikola Erikson and his wife. Suddenly, they found themselves without home or family.

    Pastor Norelius brought the children to Vasa and arranged care for them in a refurbished church basement. This later became Vasa Children’s Home, Minnesota’s first and oldest orphanage.

    Pastor Norelius saw children in need and came up with a community response that inspired hope and changed their lives and the life of the community.



  • Today, the LSS tradition of service continues.

    Today, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota holds these values at the core of its vision and mission. These values guide the efforts of LSS and empowers us to overcome any challenge and, in doing so, achieve results that endure.

    Through the years, Minnesotans have continued to advocate for our citizens - children, people with disabilities, and the elderly - to ensure they have the opportunity to live and work in community with safety, dignity and hope.



  • Historic Milestones

    1865    Vasa Children's Home, Red Wing
    1895 Lake Park Children's Home, Lake Park
    1898 Wild Rice Children's Home, Twin Valley
    1900        Lutheran Children's Friends Society
    1905 Lutheran Inner Mission Society
    1906 Luther House opens in Minneapolis to house young, rural women coming to the Twin Cities for employment.
    1913 First Lutheran Kindergarten and Day Care, Minneapolis
    1916 Bethany Children's Home, Duluth
    1923 Board of Christian Service
    1927 Lutheran Inner Mission Society becomes Lutheran Welfare Society.
    1931 Lake Park and Wild Rice orphanages merge.
    1945 Lutheran Welfare Society opens first District Office in Fergus Falls.
    1948-53 LSS resettles 3,000 refugees from Europe.
    1950-57 Lake Park-Wild begins serving troubled boys in a residential treatment setting.
    1954 Vasa Children's Home begins serving children and youth with developmental disabilities in residential care.
    1958 LSS opens new Minneapolis Office at 24th and Park Avenue.
    1963 Board of Christian Service and Lutheran Welfare Society merge to become Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.
    1969 Lutheran Children's Friend Society merges into Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, brining all Lutheran child welfare services under LSS.
    1973 Older Americans Act is passed.  Senior Nutrition services begin..
    1974 Lutheran Home for Unwed Mothers opens in Minneapolis.
    1975 Fall of Saigon.  LSS of Minnesota begins serving thousands of Southeast Asian refugees.
    1976 First LSS residential home opens in Bloomington to serve adults with developmental disabilities.
    1980 Street outreach launches to serve homeless youth in the Twin Cities.
    1984 Housing information service opens in Minneapolis to serve newly-emerging homeless families.
    1987  LSS launches financial counseling to help Minnesotans struggling with credit card debt
    1991 The Safe House program opening in 1991 and is a direct outgrowth of LSS street outreach and counseling services to youth, which began in the early 1980s.  The Safe House serves over 100 homeless youth each year.
    1996  Phillips Park Initiative, of which LSS is a founding member, gets approval from the City of Minneapolis to redevelop a four-block area near 2400 Park Avenue in Minneapolis.
    1997 LSS initiates a three-year recovery effort to help residents affected by the Red River Valley Flood Disaster.  Camp Noah is created to help children recover. 
    2000 First LSS transitional housing service opens for homeless youth in Saint Paul.
    2001 Second transitional housing service opens for homeless youth in Duluth.
    2003

    Camp Knutson renovation is completed, creating a world-class camp for kids with special needs.
    First transitional housing for homeless teen mothers opens in Saint Paul.
    Severe state budget cuts results in program closures for kids and losses in funding for persons with disabilities, frail elderly, homeless youth and crisis nurseries.

    2008 LSS successfully completes a $27 million capital campaign to open the Center for Changing Lives in Minneapolis.