Adoptions increase, Michigan benefits

by Susan Aumiller 30. September 2010 10:28

Michigan increased the number of children placed in adoptive homes in 2009 to 3,030 – an 11 percent increase over the previous year – and in the process earned $3.5 million in federal funds. Lutheran Adoption Service, a joint effort of Lutheran Social Services and Lutheran Child & Family Service of Michigan, placed 264 children in 2009, a 12 percent increase over 2008. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $39 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico for increasing the number of adoptions they completed. A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Human Services said the incentive award will be earmarked for adoption services.

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World Cup Final Watch Party in Grand Rapids July 11, a fundraiser for the LSSM Refugee Resettlement program

by Susan Aumiller 2. July 2010 15:25

The World Cup is working toward its final teams. All the world is watching. This is truly an international sports event, and yet many people don’t realize that the international community has come here to Michigan, including Grand Rapids. Lutheran Social Services of Michigan has assisted many of them. 

Bring up the subject of “futbol” (soccer) with our Lutheran Social Services refugees and “you may be in for a two-hour conversation,” said Chris Cavanaugh, program manager for Refugee Resettlement in Grand Rapids. “It is their favorite subject.”

About two dozen off our international refugees will be on hand for a special World Cup Final Watch Party at Celebration! Cinema North in Grand Rapids on Sunday, July 11, sponsored by Lutheran Social Services of Michigan ( Doors open at 2 p.m., match begins 2:30 p.m. This is a fundraiser, with proceeds going to support the LSSM Refugee Resettlement program in Grand Rapids through a suggested donation of $5 or more at the event.

To request an entrance ticket, send an email to John Elmore at, and put as the SUBJECT: "World Cup Ticket."
Seating is limited, so don’t delay.




Update: Owning Your Story

by Susan Aumiller 28. June 2010 12:00

On May 27, we posted this story, introducing you to Olatunji Bledsoe. The 18-year-old is the first student to receive funds from Lutheran Social Services of Michigan's educational scholarship program that helps youth aging out of foster care. He was very excited to receive the scholarship which he used to purchase a car that will allow him to get to and from classes and his job at Home Depot.  


Client Stories | LSSM

Single father offers hope to youth as a LSSM foster dad

by Susan Aumiller 25. June 2010 13:50

Luke 12:48b – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Cole Williams is a hero to the teen boys in his home, especially his own 15-year-old son Nathan, who told him, “I’m proud of you, because you’re a really good father.”

Cole understands them. When he himself was 15, his mother moved to a subsidized apartment that did not have room for him. His former fifth-grade math teacher, Ralph Cantania, took him in. “I was grateful, but I didn’t know what to expect,” Cole recalled. “I was a young black man, and he was a white man.”

Cantania was in his mid-fifties, divorced and childless. “He was the nicest kid,” he said, “and he needed someone.” Cantania became Cole’s legal guardian, then learned the boy was going to be a father. “What impressed me was Cole’s promise, ‘My son is going to know who his father is.’”

Cole went to parenting groups and learned skills for raising his son. For about two years, Cole saw his son regularly and brought him home on weekends. Then Nathan came to stay for good.

Two years ago, the two moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, from New Jersey. Cole works for St. John’s Home, a foster care residential shelter program in Grand Rapids for children ages infant to 18 years old. “I saw kids come in with no place to go,” Cole said. “I want them to know that I am someone they can depend on.”

Cole, now a licensed foster parent through Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, is Dad to a home full of teenage boys. “This is a very real family,” Cole said. “These are my sons. We deal with real issues. It comes with real responsibilities. We’re dealing with children who were abused and neglected. It involves a lot of sacrifice. But the more you know, the more you owe. You can make a difference."

More foster homes are needed for hurting children and youth. Visit

Read the feature story about Cole Williams that ran in The Grand Rapids Press on Father’s Day, June 20, 2010.

Listen to the StoryCorps recording of Cole Williams and guardian Ralph Cantania.

Listen to the StoryCorps recording of Cole Williams and his 15-year-old son Nate.

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News | LSSM

Friend us on Facebook!

by Susan Aumiller 23. February 2010 11:33

Are you on Facebook? If so, we want to be your friend! Technically, you can’t be a “friend” of an organization, but you can be a “fan,” which works pretty much the same way. So click on the link below and sign on up! It’s a good way to share news and information about Lutheran Social Services with your Facebook friends.


General | LSSM

New administrator at Maple Village

by Susan Aumiller 12. February 2010 12:57

Suzanne Brasseur had accepted the position as administrator of Maple Village, Lutheran Social Services' retirement community in Bloomfield Hills. She had been director of census development, responsible for helping senior residential facilities keep their centers filled. She had also been interim administrator at Maple Village since November. 



News | Staff Stories | LSSM

Thank you, Thrivent!

by Susan Aumiller 11. February 2010 13:52

Thanks to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and donors who increased their gifts with a Thrivent GivingPlus match! We received more than $29,000 in matching funds from this program, in 2009. Watch for details about matching gifts for 2010!


General | LSSM

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