LSS Opens New Shelter and Family Resource Center in Morgan Park

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has opened a new youth shelter and family resource center in Morgan Park called LSS Bethany for Children, Youth and Families that will not only provide shelter for children and youth through age 17, but also prevention and early intervention services to support families.

Generous donors made the new $3.3 million facility a reality. Dave Goldberg and Joe Bullyan, local community philanthropists who have a heart for children and families, took the lead to make the new facility a reality.

“I was asked by Dave, an old friend, to go with him to the LSS Bethany shelter as they needed some remodeling done,” Bullyan said. “We looked at the 50-year-old building that had a lot of problems and knew this house did not serve their needs. So, I said to Dave, ‘They need a new building.’  Dave and I pledged one million dollars and we were off and running. In a short time, through other friends and associates, three million was pledged and now they have a whole new building to celebrate.”

“Bethany is just an unknown wealth that we have here,” Dave Goldberg said. “I bet there isn’t 5% or 10% of the people in Duluth that know it even exists. It’s always been under the radar, but it’s been doing its job quietly and lovingly for many years.”

In addition to Bullyan and Goldberg, Sonja Vogen Baertsch and Tom and Julie Seidelmann also served as campaign ambassadors providing leadership for the LSS Bethany fundraising initiative.

Plans are to expand and provide a broader array of services that include parent support, education and coaching, behavioral health, family visitation, reunification support and referral to community services. Because economic stability is essential to family stability, coaching will be an important centerpiece in this work as LSS walks alongside families to connect them to affordable housing, health resources and educational opportunities that can prepare them for better jobs. 

“Parents want the best for their children,” said Dawn Shykes, senior director of Children, Youth and Families at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “We’ll be a partner with them to reach their goals, address challenges and help them create the best possible outcomes for their children because building family stability and resiliency is essential to child well-being and healthy communities.”

The former facility, a shelter only for youth, had served children since the early 1970s and was designed as a rambler, single family home. The new facility, which meets ADA standards, provides a more welcoming environment, greater space for a family resource center and more flexibility to serve children and youth. The shelter will continue to serve up to 12 youth, and can expand to serve as many as 17, if needed.

Shykes said that care and sensitivity are incorporated into the building design. The facility includes all LED lighting on motion-censored timers, high efficiency windows and insulation, and an efficient in-floor heating system — which all conserve energy. Artwork on the walls is culturally-representative of the youth served and offers affirming messages that help create a warm and welcoming environment for youth and families. Staff also took special care to refurbish and bring the fireplace mantel from the former shelter where they say “angels in the chimney” will go with them to the new building.

“LSS has a long history of partnering in community to serve children and youth in northeastern Minnesota,” said Patrick Thueson, president of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “Providing prevention and early intervention support can help families build resiliency, stability and child wellbeing.  We are so grateful to the generous supporters and community program partners who helped made this new resource a reality.”

Duncan Gregory, program director who has provided support and leadership for the LSS Bethany youth shelter for 21 years, said that the beautiful new facility with a commercial kitchen, conference rooms, comfortable and friendly sleeping areas and a new recreational space will be “a healing place that will serve children and families for years to come.”

 If you would like to help, LSS Bethany is seeking volunteers to sort and organize donations, prepare rooms for family visits and groups, potentially answer phones, and greet families as they arrive. Volunteers receive training and participate in a federal background check. Supporters can also help collect needed items, such as diapers, wipes and baby skin care products, for children and families served at LSS Bethany. For more information, visit