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AmeriCorps Volunteers Stayed at Camp Lakodia

A group of nine volunteers with AmeriCorps performed an endless list of maintenance tasks at Camp Lakodia, a year-round retreat owned by CSD. From September 13 to November 3, they worked with camp staff in establishing shoreline erosion control on the eastern shore of Lake Herman, did general landscaping, cleaned the entire facilities, painted and sealed wooden benches, cut firewood, and a number of other tasks.

Peter Bailey, Director of Camp Lakodia said "Their help was greatly appreciated especially when we started working on our 17 acres to prepare for our future RV sites. They helped with removing trees, branches and rocks to allow us to work freely in that area."

AmeriCorps-NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women age 18–24. Each year, AmeriCorps-NCCC engages teams of members in meaningful projects in communities across the United States. Service projects, which typically last from six to eight weeks, address critical needs in education, public safety, the environment, and other unmet needs. Former President Bill Clinton established AmeriCorps by signing the National and Community Service Trust Act in 1993.

Camp Lakodia was chosen as one of the sites for AmeriCorps volunteers to stay with us for seven weeks because Camp Lakodia applied and met their criteria. One of the requirements was to be national non-profit human service organization.

In addition to the physical portion of their experience, Americorps team members benefited from cultural and linguistic experiences through their interaction with deaf or hard of hearing employees working at Camp Lakodia. All volunteers also spent at least three hours per week learning American Sign Language.

They even volunteered to build the Haunted House for our Harvest Fest and were able to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing children and adults when they visited the Haunted House. They also traveled to Sioux Falls on a tour of CSD and the South Dakota Association of the Deaf Center, known as "SDAD Center". They also had the opportunity to meet our CEO, Ben Soukup, in his office and other CSD employees.

Soukup and other CSD administrators attended a luncheon to recognize their effort and help on the day before they departed. Each Americorps volunteer received a gift of Camp Lakodia sweatshirt, t-shirt, certification of appreciation and a written letter from the CEO. They then thanked us for allowing them to be part of the CSD family throughout their stay. They even gave cards to our cleaning staff and construction workers.

Augustana and CSD partners in Interpreter Training Program

Augustana College, a private college with an accredited deaf education program in Sioux Falls and Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc (CSD) have entered into a four-year partnership and launched a new sign language interpreting program at Augustana College starting fall semester 2006.

"Augustana College is as committed to providing our students with a myriad of opportunities for their future as CSD is to serving the deaf and hard of hearing population of America," said Bob Kiner, Augustana College vice president of academic affairs. "This partnership made perfect sense for both parties, and we look forward to increasing the interpreting profession's standards in South Dakota."

"We are pleased to show our support of the interpreting profession by partnering with Augustana College for a new ITP," said Benjamin Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. "Because of new technologies like video relay service, the need for interpreters is at an all-time high. This collaboration is one way in which we can ensure that deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the Sioux Falls area always have access to highly trained interpreters."

State of Minnesota Awards Interpreting Contract

CSD of Minnesota was selected to provide sign language interpreters to the Legislative Coordinating Commission (LCC) at the Minnesota Legislature during the 2007 session. CSD has provided interpreters in the past and takes great pride in meeting the communication access needs for the legislators and for deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing citizens in Minnesota. Most requests for interpreters come from House and Senate committees, sub-committees or legislative commissions that convene in the Twin Cities metro area.

Through its statewide referral services system, CSD can also handle interpreter requests for all regions in the state and can provide interpreting services for legislators in their home towns. A referral specialist is on call 24/7 for emergency interpreting needs. CSD hires only certified interpreters to fulfill the requests in the State of Minnesota and a pool of interpreters who have been trained to interpret specifically for legislative requests. CSD supports the philosophy that "no interpreter is better than an unqualified interpreter."

Ohio Relay

The American Council of the Blind of Ohio honored the Ohio Relay Service (ORS) as Employer of the Year on November 4th. The award is given out annually to one company in the state of Ohio for excelling in the employment of blind or visually-impaired individuals. Kimberly Harshman, a communications agent at the Dayton Relay Center, who nominated ORS for the award, was given the opportunity to present the award during ceremonies in the state capital, Columbus. In her nomination letter, Kimberly stated, the Ohio Relay Service "truly goes out of their way to accommodate persons with disabilities, not just persons with a visual impairment; we have a deaf team leader and a communications assistant who is in a wheelchair. Yes, this company means what they say when they say, 'we are an equal opportunity employer.'" Juli Robinson, the Senior Center Manager from South Carolina, Dayton Team Leader Aaron Priest and Dayton Center Manager Michael R. LaMontagne drove up to Columbus to accept the award on behalf of ORS.

Self Defense

After a person was assaulted after leaving an ASL class at CSD of Rapid City in South Dakota in the evening of October 26th, people realized the building that person walked from was the building you have worked in for the past 7 years. The safety bubble that has surrounded your friends, acquaintances and family had burst. CSD took action to find ways to protect our community. First they notified them by mass email and at CSD social events to be aware of their surroundings when leaving the building, especially at night. Then they asked a crime prevention specialist to inspect the CSD building and grounds using the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concept. CPTED involves designing a physical space, whether it is interior and/or exterior, to reduce the incidence of crime and vandalism. A report was submitted about how to improve the exterior and interior of the CSD-RC property. CSD also arranged with Rushmore Jukite Jujitsu, a local Martial Arts Club, to provide a Self Defense Class to friends and family of CSD staff, ASL students and the Deaf community. Instructors Doug Langworthy and Jack Smith provided essential information on how to be aware of your surroundings and taught the students how to successfully strike the attacker in the primary target areas which are ears, eyes, nose, throat, groin and knee. Several scenarios were posed to the students and demonstrations were given on how to successfully protect yourself and escape with minimal harm. Contact your local Martial Arts Club to see if they provide Self Defense Courses. It could save your life!