Lutheran Social Services finds new homeA community of care is growing in the Mariner Mall area. The latest nonprofit organization to settle in is Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Inc. The office relocated from Hawkes Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus to the Koudelka Center, right beside the Challenge Center, on Nov. 17.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A community of care is growing in the Mariner Mall area. The latest nonprofit organization to settle in is Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Inc. The office relocated from Hawkes Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus to the Koudelka Center, right beside the Challenge Center, on Nov. 17.
The organization, which has been Superior for nearly four decades is “going strong,” said Counseling Clinic Manager John Ball.
Their new space, formerly the site of the Human Development Center, is warm, modern, inviting and on the main floor. The site is on the Duluth Transit Authority bus line; parking is plentiful. And Ball said partnering with the new landlord, Catholic Charities, makes sense.
“We feel like we have a common goal,” he said. In addition, many other non-profit organizations call the area home. The Superior Vocations Center Inc. is about a block away down Hill Avenue, and the nearby Mariner Mall now houses both North Country Independent Living and the Health Care Center.
LSS provides a wide range of services aimed at ministering to the whole person, including mental health counseling, guardianship, financial counseling and the representative payee program.
“Motivated by the compassion of Christ, we help people improve the quality of their lives,” Ball said, quoting the LSS mission. Services are available to everyone, regardless of religion or financial status.
Staff said they are committed to those they serve. Nel Thompson and Bonnie Atkinson manage finances for clients who can’t do so themselves through the representative payee program. They sit down and develop a budget with them, set up a bank account for their Social Security or other income, and pay bills as they come due.
“I really think it’s important to know the people I work for,” Thompson said. She had trips planned to visit some of her 60 clients, including one in Spooner. In total, the Superior LSS office has more than 160 enrolled in the representative payee program.
Natalie Bloom serves as a court-appointed guardian for people and estates through the LSS corporate guardianship program. She’s been with the organization for four years, and moved into the guardianship role in October.
“I know how I would feel at the end of my life,” Bloom said. “I would like someone looking out for me with the kind of care and compassion that I do.”
A trio of masters level therapists with a combined 75 years of experience in counseling provide mental health services at LSS. Ball, who has been with LSS since 1980, said he is now seeing second and third generation clients, the children and grandchildren of clients he saw in the 80s. Ongoing training keeps counselors on the cutting edge of what’s being done in psychotherapy.
They are skilled clinicians who are committed to meeting the needs of clients, Ball said, and “we do quality work.” While many of their clients are on Medicaid or Medical Assistance, LSS is available to clients with many other forms of insurance. And they provide mental health help on a sliding fee scale to those in need.
Individual, marriage and family therapy is available covering a wide range of mental health issues for all ages, from early onset autism spectrum disorders and depression to anger management and aging issues. A new counselor specializing in alcohol and other drug abuse is slated to start at LSS in early 2012.
Ball travels to provide free counseling at the Center Against Sexual And Domestic Abuse and Harbor House Crisis Shelters, as well.
“In order to see these people, you have to go where they are,” he said.
Financial counseling is available at (715) 394-2054 for people who find themselves in deep debt, living on credit cards or utilizing payday loans to get by. Folks who just want to get a financial “tune up” to keep their budget on track can also schedule a free session with Financial Counseling Supervisor Marsha Krivinchuk, ext. 5709, or Counselor Kathy Dockter, ext. 5711. Krivinchuk noted that she has seen a number of clients recently who have lost money to financial scams. Be extremely cautious about using an advertised “solution” to your money problems, she said. Research local options like LSS and talk to your bank, credit union or the Better Business Bureau.
To make an appointment with LSS, call (715) 394-4173. For more information, call or look up the main website at www.lsswis.org. The LSS main entrance is located on the west side of the Koudelka Center.