For discussion

June 2020

Everyone Needs Help Sometimes.

Abby Tow, Director of Community Engagement, LSSND
Micayla Bitz, Community Engagement Specialist, LSSND

Abby Tow leads Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota’s fundraising programs, grants and communications as the Director of Community Engagement. Prior to joining LSSND in 2018, she was the Founding Executive Director of Imagine Thriving, a non-profit providing innovative mental health programming for children and students in elementary through high school. Abby has served on various boards for other non-profits through the years, and volunteered with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, offering photographs for families of their lost infants, and with the North Dakota Heart Gallery, providing photographs of children needing foster parents and/or adoptive parents. Abby also worked for over a decade as a self-employed professional photographer. Her work was featured in homes, businesses and magazines all over the world.
Micayla Bitz is a Community Engagement Specialist at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. After completing a summer internship in the summer of 2019, she moved into her part-time role with the agency’s community engagement team. Micayla will graduate from Concordia College in December of 2020 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and minors in political science and English. In her role, Micayla writes both internal and external agency communications and coordinates social media strategy.

North Dakotans are resilient. We survive blizzards and tornados, droughts and floods, and we are currently surviving a global pandemic and its devastating economic consequences.

Yet, being resilient does not mean that North Dakotans will not need help to move beyond challenges — the space and time between crisis and stability. It is in these moments that help from resources outside a person’s natural circle of supports is critical.

At Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND), we strive to be present in these moments of vulnerability and help change the trajectory for people at all stages of their lives. In 2019, we served approximately 30,000 of our neighbors through one or more of our seven service areas.

We often talk about walking with our clients. This means that we stay with our clients past their initial challenge or crisis — when they are still vulnerable — through to the next steps so that they can grow to stable and well. This does not create dependency. This support builds resiliency and fosters personal and familial growth.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in the intensity of need across all of our programs. Not only are individuals, seniors and families feeling anxious about the potential spread of the virus, they are also experiencing financial stress, educational challenges and deteriorating support systems. As these issues intensify, we are also seeing an increase in family conflicts, anxiety, isolation and depression.

As the ramifications of the pandemic continue, including the loss of jobs and income, we anticipate an increased demand for the services we provide — including many people who have never had to ask for help before. During these times of uncertainty, early intervention programs are even more critical. Our job is to walk with North Dakotans — to help individuals and families live and be well in their homes, schools, workplaces and community.

A zip code should never impact a person’s access to help. This is why we built an infrastructure that supports statewide service through nine program centers strategically placed across North Dakota. Additionally, beginning in 2017, LSSND pioneered the use of telehealth for virtual therapy sessions to people all over the state through its outpatient mental-health program, Abound Counseling. When the pandemic began, we used this working knowledge to pivot quickly and reshape a majority of programs into a telehealth mode of delivery.

Staff from programs such as Free Through Recovery, Senior Companions, Gamblers Choice or Family Coaching and their clients remain connected via technology. However, some programs like Aging Life Care melded both virtual and in-home visits to maintain care. Luther Hall and Attendant Care are both 24/7 residential services that continue to provide services with the necessary precautions to keep both clients and staff safe. Regardless of temporary changes to the way services are provided, no client was lost or abandoned.

From a teenager taking responsibility for the harm they caused and making amends without entering the justice system to a senior receiving the help they need to continue living independently, the work we do touches North Dakotans at all stages of life and at all kinds of crisis points. Help for all is our mission. Some services are free, while others are covered by private insurances, Medicaid and Medicare. If finances are a concern, please let us know. Thanks to the generosity of LSSND donors, we can help.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are or where you came from. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. We know that now, more than ever, people of all ages and situations need somewhere to turn. Seek help by visiting or calling 701-223-1510. Please know that it is not necessary to know which LSSND program may be the best fit for you. Together, we can figure out the path forward to lessen the burdens you are facing.

Below is a glimpse of the programs LSSND provides for families, youth and seniors, as well as mental health therapy, humanitarian services and affordable housing. For more detailed information, visit

Family Supports

  • Adoption — In a partnership with The Village Family Service Center, LSSND provides pregnancy and parenting support services, adoption services and post-adoption search and disclosure services.
  • Bright & Early ND — As the state’s quality rating system for child care, Bright & Early ND helps parents and providers assess how a child care program supports a child's early learning and development.
  • Child Care Aware — Child Care Aware is a training and information hub for child care providers. In addition to building the capacity of child care in North Dakota, the program also offers customized referrals for parents to licensed child care options.
  • Family Coaching — Family Coaching Specialists help parents raise thriving children by supporting them through transitions and teaching skills that will help children and parents alike foster a more supportive relationship.
  • Growing Futures — Growing Futures is a statewide workforce registry for individuals who work in early childhood care and education.
  • Healthy Families — Available to parents of children ages 0-3, Healthy Families is a voluntary home-visiting program offering education, support and assistance to new parents on topics such as child development and ways to reduce stressors during the critical transition of welcoming a new child to the family.
  • Pregnancy Counseling — Also in a partnership with The Village, pregnancy counselors will meet clients anywhere in North Dakota to help make a life plan that’s best for both parents and baby.

Youth Supports

  • Attendant Care — Attendant Care helps keep kids out of jail by providing short-term care and supervision in a safe, non-institutional setting.
  • DIVERT — DIVERT aims to keep families with at-risk youth together by helping them identify difficultie and strengths, set goals for improvement and use community resources.
  • Restorative Justice — The Restorative Justice program seeks to restore those harmed by an offense, to encourage accountability from the person who committed the offense, and to promote safe, secure, and peaceful communities throughout the state.
  • Restorative Practices in Schools — Through a continuum of strategies, Restorative Practices in Schools provide educators with the training, consultation and support they need to build community and repair harm in schools.
  • Youth Court — Youth Court provides an opportunity for kids who have been charged with an offense or are referred by school administrators to be held accountable for their actions in positive and educational ways.
  • Youth Cultural Achievement Program — The Youth Cultural Achievement program has twin goals of identifying and addressing the causes of disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system and supporting and connecting youth with services that will prevent them from entering or progressing further into the justice system.

Mental Health Therapy

  • Abound Counseling — By matching experienced therapists with individuals and families who seek care, Abound Counseling brings quality, affordable behavioral health services to people in-person and via telehealth in communities across North Dakota.
  • In-Home Family Counseling — Counselors help families stay together by helping parents of at-risk youth find ways to work through crisis situations and become self-sufficient in handling future challenges.
  • Farm-to-Farm Therapy — As a counseling program specifically tailored to farmers and ranchers, the Farm-to-Farm Therapy is available in-person or via tele-health services.
  • Free Through Recovery — In a collaborative effort with the state of North Dakota, Free Through Recovery specialists engage with individuals involved with the criminal justice system who are struggling with behavioral health issues to increase recovery support.
  • Gamblers Choice — Dedicated to helping those who struggle with gambling addictions heal, Gamblers Choice provides individual and group counseling while also promoting awareness and education about addiction.
  • Luther Hall —Serving youth ages 10 to 17, Luther Hall is a licensed psychiatric residential treatment facility for youth who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition and need residential-level care and treatment to heal.
  • Violence Free — By holding domestic violence batterers accountable, Violence Free provides a group treatment opportunity for batterers to change their belief systems related to safety and respect in their significant partner relationships.

Imagine Thriving

Imagine Thriving is an initiative of LSSND that actively engages and works with schools and communities in a variety of ways, including peer-to-peer student presentations and community discussions to bring awareness and understanding of mental well-being.

Skills Coaches provide direct services to families and individuals in their homes, classrooms, and workplaces, to help them build confidence as they experience successes and cultivate newfound coping skills and resilience

Senior Supports

  • Aging Life Care — Through care coordination, support and whole-family solutions, LSSND navigates the full spectrum of aging services to improve quality of life for the aging adult and to lessen the load on the primary caregiver(s).belief systems related to safety and respect in their significant partner relationships.
  • Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) — RSVP networks with local agencies in need of volunteers by recruiting and placing adults who are 55 and older who wish to give their time and experience to make the lives of others better and to help communities become more resilient.belief systems related to safety and respect in their significant partner relationships.
  • Senior Companions — Senior Companions volunteer their time to provide companionship to adults to help them prevent loneliness, maintain their independence and continue living in their own homes.
  • Volunteer Companions — Much like Senior Companions, the Volunteer Companions program matches adults 18 or older with a senior in need of companionship to help them maintain their independence and prevent loneliness.

Humanitarian Programs

  • Disaster Response —Through the coordination and support of resources and volunteers, LSSND provides long-term recovery for people affected by national disasters as well as preparedness training for communities before disaster occurs.
  • Immigration Services — Recognized by the Department of Justice to provide legal immigration services, LSSND offers affordable immigration counseling and application processing services to refugees, asylees, and others with immigration questions.
  • Interpreter Services — In over 43 languages, LSSND offers both in-person and by-phone interpreter services and written translations to legal, medical and community agencies who need to effectively communicate when a language barrier exists.
  • Refugee Resettlement — Since 1948, LSSND has been resettling refugees on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. As the only federally recognized and approved refugee resettlement coordinator in North Dakota, LSSND helps refugees integrate into their new home communities and begin building their new lives. We equip refugees with the tools they need to become self-sufficient, help them find jobs to support their families and communities, connect them with English language learning opportunities and provide them with case management services.
  • Services to Elder Refugees — LSSND connects refugees over the age of 60 with a supportive foundation in their new home community by connecting them to existing naturalization services and facilitating integration into the community.
  • Unaccompanied Refugee Minors — The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program provides long-term support for youth in a safe and nurturing foster or kinship family to encourage growth toward independence.

Affordable Housing

LSSND operates under the housing first philosophy. We believe that once a person is provided safe, decent, and affordable housing, they have a much greater capacity to work on improving all the other areas of their lives.

  • Housing Development — Working alongside local leaders, LSS Housing identifies critical community needs and approaches for meeting those needs with the best chance for success. To address housing shortages, we create partnerships to build and renovate — to provide new, affordable housing.
  • Preservation of Affordable Housing — LSS Housing works with communities and local partners to acquire, rehabilitate and, ultimately, preserve existing affordable housing units in rural North Dakota communities.
  • Property Management — LSS Housing manages an affordable, multi-family housing portfolio, as well as units owned by other organizations and individuals around the state. The property management team is committed to being both compassionate and competent, offering day-to-day on-site management while also addressing individual tenant needs.

Note: LSSND's housing work is carried out through a subsidiary, Lutheran Social Services Housing, Inc.

For more information on these programs, visit To seek out services, visit or call 701-223-1510.

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Center for Social Research
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Compass created by:
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