Volunteer Stories

Volunteers are an essential part of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS). Their strong support makes it possible for us to touch the lives of 1 in 65 Minnesotans each year. The stories below highlight just a few of the ways our volunteers make a difference, and help us inspire hope, change lives and build community every day.

Heartfelt Care, Friendship & Peace of Mind

Renee and Carol
Carol, left with caregiver volunteer Renee

Dee became an instant caregiver after her father Donald passed away. Her mother, Carol, was experiencing memory loss from dementia and the family knew that she was not safe living at home alone. Dee quickly moved up to Brainerd to provide 24/7 care, but missed her own family and the life she left in Minneapolis.

When caregiving and the trips from Brainerd to Minneapolis began to takes a toll, Dee connected with LSS’ Caregiver Respite service. Soon after, trained volunteer Renee began greeting Carol, 84, with a smile and spending a few hours with hear every Monday. The weekly check-ins have allowed Dee to move back to Minneapolis, though she still visits often.

Says Renee, “We do the grocery shopping, take a walk, fill the bird feeder, or sometimes go out to lunch. Carol loves puzzles so we’ll do things like that together. When I think of Carol, I think of ‘Mom Carol’. I feel close to her and Dee. I really care about what happens in their lives, and I’m glad to be a part of that.”
View Carol and Renee’s video story:


“God’s work. Our hands.” Service Projects Impact Neighbors Statewide

God's Work. Our hands.As a social ministry partner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), LSS is proud to work with congregations across the state for this project called “God’s Work. Our Hands.”  Each year on this day, LSS offers several service projects on its website. Each project is an opportunity for churches and their members to serve their neighbors and make a difference in their communities.

In 2017, more than 50 congregations and 1,104 volunteers participated in LSS service projects.  They collected 1,276 shelf-stable meals for older adults to have as a back-up in case inclement weather limited Meals on Wheels deliveries.  Participants also donated more than $10,000 for LSS services, provided 174 pairs of socks for metro homeless youth and car seats and kits for newly arrived refugee children, and created 30 crisis nursery diaper kits.

We are grateful for every hour of time and each donation given. This is just one example of how we can #DoMoreTogether!

Learn more about God’s work. Our hands.

Touching Lives as an InternJeff Wynn

Jeff Wynn used his senior internship to help others.  As a senior at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, he was majoring in psychology and looking for some real world experience.   With aspirations to continue on his path towards helping children and families, LSS Crisis Nursery was a great match for his senior internship.

“I chose LSS Crisis Nursery as my internship site because I thought it would give me a good foundation for working with families in need of help,” said Jeff.

Jeff used his knowledge and love of helping others to jump into almost every aspect of the Crisis Nursery’s day-to-day operations. He responded to emergency crisis calls and connected families with emergency child-care and other services.  Ready to help wherever needed, Jeff also filled additional roles such as tackling office paperwork and organizing the clothing room.

Family Worker Keri Sampson said of his time as an intern, “He was a pleasure to have around.  He was really one to cue in and watch the interactions of people.”

Search for internship opportunities in your area.

Bill and Mike
Volunteer Mike, left, picks Bill at his home during a visit.

A New Lease on Life: Neighbor to Neighbor Companions

Mike Cullen wanted a meaningful way to fill his free time after his career as a beloved teacher, principal and superintendent had ended.

“I wanted to do something to make a difference, and my son mentioned that the new Neighbor to Neighbor service needed volunteers to support older adults,” he said.

The service offers older adults a little extra support at home and in the community. Mike dove into the opportunity. He completed training and began supporting Bill Wherland, a Minneapolis resident recovering after a stroke. Mike took Bill to speech therapy appointments aimed at improving his pronunciation. The two picked up groceries and walked together outdoors to improve Bill’s balance.

 “I was surprised how open he was,” Mike said. “You get close and become friends almost immediately.”

Learn more about becoming a Neighbor to Neighbor Companion.

Volunteer Honored for Her Commitment to Children & Families in Minneapolis

Sandy with quilt and CEO
Sandy Munson, left, receives her quilt award from LSS CEO Jodi Harpstead.

Sandy Munson is currently a church Ambassador for LSS, but her connection to the organization as a volunteer extends back to 1970. In her role as Ambassador, Sandy learned about organizational impact and found new ways to connect her congregation, Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, to LSS’ work in community.

After retiring, Sandy found a love in working with LSS Housing Services. With her congregation, she started an annual Children’s Clothing Store to help families find access to winter coats, clothing, school uniforms and resources to assist them in working. Under her leadership, the store has grown tremendously. Last year, 150 families and 500 children were able to bring home new clothes and other necessities.

Sandy received the LSS 2016 LSS Heritage Quilt Award. She received a handmade quilt purchased by members of the Executive Leadership team in recognition of her outstanding efforts.

Read Sandy’s full story link to story on the LSS story blog.