SIOUX FALLS | Each year, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota recognizes a distinguished volunteer, a community partner and a congregational partner in honor of outstanding service and support to LSS during 2012.

Rick & Connie Rathert of Piedmont have been named the Distinguished Volunteers for 2012.

Others honored included the South Dakota Department of Corrections as the Distinguished Community Partner and the American Lutheran Church of Milbank as the Distinguished Congregational Partner.

The Ratherts were recognized as the 2012 LSS Distinguished Volunteers of the Year, however their dedication and commitment to LSS began nearly 20 years ago as donors, said Barb Goldammer with Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota.

Since then, Rick and Connie have contributed annually to LSS in addition to the Changing Children’s Lives capital campaign. They became active volunteers in 2000 as members of the West River Benefit Event committee, an annual fundraising benefit for the Black Hills area.

Because of their continuous support, persistence and hard work, the silent auction has grown to become a significant and important element of the West River Benefit Event. In addition, their success in soliciting sponsorship funds has allowed LSS to hold this event free to the public. Rick has emceed the event on occasion, and it wouldn’t be unusual to see the Ratherts preparing, serving and cleaning up after the event.

"Because of their involvement, the West River Benefit has significantly grown, resulting in a steady increase of donor financial support,” said Betty Oldenkamp, LSS President. “This has a direct impact on LSS services offered in the Black Hills area.”

Rick has endorsed LSS for several grants including the Million Dollar Round Table which the agency was successful in being awarded. Rick served on the LSS Foundation Board from 2008-2010 and took on additional duties as the Chairperson of the Investment Committee and Treasurer of the Foundation Board. Together, the Ratherts have been instrumental and passionate in creating the first West River Advisory Council, a group of volunteers aimed to advocate for the advancement of LSS services in the West River area.

Behind the rolled-up sleeves of hard work and dedicated fundraising efforts, the Ratherts keep their children and grandchildren in the forefront of their thoughts. The Ratherts were blessed with their children through adoption services and it is their personal mission and desire to give back in ways that change people’s lives.

Rick and Connie often speak on behalf of and in support of LSS to community groups, churches and conventions. They say they never grow tired of sharing their personal story and how their lives were changed.

“Rick and Connie’s lives were changed more than 20 years ago because of adoption services. During the length of their involvement with LSS, thousands of lives were changed because of the Rathert’s dedication and drive to give back through LSS.” Oldenkamp concluded, “LSS is thankful to have them as donors, volunteers and friends. We are excited to honor them as our Volunteers of the Year for 2012.”


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