Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: Breezy, maybe rainy tomorrow

This week, I've got a look at a very sweet effort local elementary school kids took to support a local nonprofit. Plus, City Council heard some updates Tuesday afternoon about efforts to connect unhoused folks with resources in the city. You'll also find a number of Super Simplified city news stories and some fun sponsored stories about a couple of big events coming up in the next couple months.

And now, news:


How street outreach has helped dozens find help

Simplified: The Wo'okiye Project, a culturally responsive street outreach program from South Dakota Urban Indian Health (SDUIH) has helped dozens of unhoused people find everything from housing to addiction support to medical appointments to connection with family.

Why it matters

  • In August, the Sioux Falls City Council gave $175,000 to SDUIH as part of a recommendation from a homelessness task force early last year. The goal of that money was to provide a proactive approach to helping folks without homes.
  • Since then, the team at SDUIH has done nearly 1,300 hours of direct outreach in the city, successfully found housing for 20 people and helped dozens of people connect with mental health, substance abuse or chemical dependency counseling, according to data presented to City Council Tuesday by SDUIH CEO Michaela Seiber.
  • The biggest lessons the Wo'okiye Project team has learned in the last six months is that supporting people without homes takes a lot of time and a lot of trust-building.
"We've seen the barriers, and we're really trying to jump over those barriers with them," Seiber said. "It's really time consuming, but one by one, we're getting it done."

Tell me more


Why fifth graders collected 33,000 diapers

Simplified: Students at Sonia Sotomayor Elementary last month held a diaper drive to bring in donations for The Teddy Bear Den, a nonprofit that helps low-income mothers access supplies for their babies. The goal? 5,000 diapers donated. The actual result? More than 33,000 diapers.

Why it matters

  • The Teddy Bear Den helps hundreds of families each year by providing a way for them to get much-needed items like clothing and diapers using a point system rather than money. For example, a mom who goes to her prenatal doctor visits will earn points at each visit that she can then exchange for diapers or other baby necessities.
  • Sandy Lown, who's been the executive director of the nonprofit since its founding in 1996, said she was asked to speak to the elementary school's student council in December. The students then decided to do a diaper drive as part of the school's Kindness Month in February, Principal Tracy Vik said.
  • Each month, the nonprofit goes through about 5,000 diapers. That means with the donation from Sonia Sotomayor Elementary, the Teddy Bear Den will have a more than six-month supply of diapers on-hand. That'll mean a savings of close to $25,000 in the nonprofit's budget this year, Lown said.
"It was a complete shock to me," she added.

Tell me more about the Teddy Bear Den


This free event will offer a new perspective on the rule of law

This is a paid piece from the Augustana University Center for Western Studies.

Simplified: During a consequential election year, the Augustana University Center for Western Studies (CWS) is looking to ignite a conversation about the rule of law and the future of our democracy during the 27th Annual Boe Forum on Public Affairs featuring author and New York Times Columnist David Brooks.

Why it matters

  • Brooks' talk is entitled "America at the Crossroads: The Rule of Law and the Future of Democracy" – an especially relevant topic because he's speaking two weeks after Super Tuesday when the greatest number of U.S. states hold primary elections and caucuses.
  • The Boe Forum is a premier program of the CWS, which is celebrating its 60th year of operations in 2024. This year's event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at the Augustana University Elmen Center.
  • The CWS selected Brooks as a speaker because of his career in media and his ability to address the current political division and what it might mean for our country's future.
"With it being an election year – and probably one of the most polarized elections – David Brooks sits close to the middle and will offer a good perspective," said Kamryn Miller, education assistant with the CWS.

Tell me more about David Brooks

And learn how you can get tickets here.


Super Simplified Stories

  • Class II e-bikes to be allowed on trails. The City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would allow Class II e-bicycles on the city's recreation trail, parkways, sidepaths and sidewalks.
  • New golf resource for kids. The City Council voted to approve the lease of property for a new building to be constructed at Elmwood Golf Course for use by the South Dakota Golf Association Junior Golf Foundation. The First Tee building will be called the "Denny Sanford Learning Center" after a $600,000 donation from the billionaire philanthropist.
  • New Midco locker rooms named after donors. The new locker rooms at the Midco Aquatic Center will be named the "Kirby Locker Rooms" after the Kirby family, who gifted $500,000 toward the renovations that'll essentially double the available locker room space in the facility. The City Council on Tuesday voted to approve the naming agreement.
  • Pedestrians banned from standing on medians at certain intersections. Pedestrians will no longer be allowed to stand, sit or stay on medians on more than a dozen intersections in the city, per an ordinance passed Tuesday night by the City Council. The goal is to promote pedestrian safety, according to sponsor Councilor Curt Soehl. The consequence for disobeying the ordinance is a roughly $100 fine. The affected intersections include:


The Humane Society has a lot to celebrate this year, and you can be part of it

This is a paid piece from the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society.

Simplified: The Sioux Falls Area Humane Society is recognizing record adoptions in 2023 and garnering support for the rest of 2024 during its annual Paws to Celebrate event next month. Here's what you need to know.

Why it matters

  • The Humane Society takes in thousands of animals each year. Last year, more than 3,800 animals were adopted – an all-time record and about 1,000 more adoptions than the year prior.
  • The organization's work depends primarily on the generosity of local donors, and Paws to Celebrate is the Humane Society's largest annual fundraiser. This year's event will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 20 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
  • On average, The Humane Society spends about $300 on each animal it takes in – including the costs of medical care, spay or neuter and housing.
"Paws to Celebrate helps us get support to cover all of the intakes and things that we do throughout the year," said Dana Peterson-Konzem, community outreach director. "That way we can help more animals."

Tell me more about the event


Stuff to do: March 6-12

  • Get sporty. The Summit League Men's and Women's Basketball Championships will take place Friday through Tuesday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. See the schedule/ticket details for the women's games here and the men's games here.
  • Get Oscar-y. Sure, movies are cool, but you can also get all dolled up for a celebration of food at Harvester Kitchen on Sunday evening. Leading up to the event, diners can vote on their favorite dishes. Details here.
  • Get scrumdiddlyumptious-y. The Dakota Academy of Performing Arts will put on a production of "Willy Wonka Jr." this weekend with five chances to catch the show. Details and tickets here.
  • Get dance-y The El Riad Shrine is hosting a St. Patrick's-themed "Shamrock Big Band Dance" on Friday night. The evening begins at 6:45 with a beginner dance lesson, free with admission to the dance ($15), taught by instructor Lisa Myhre. Open dancing to music by the 17-piece Shrine Big Band begins at 7:30. More details here.
  • Get stretchy. Kitten Yoga is back at Coast 2 Coast Athletic Club in Tea. Stretch and unwind surrounded by kittens in what promises to be a "meow-velous" time. The event starts at 7 p.m. Thursday. Details and tickets here.
  • Get a spring closet refresh. Seven local boutiques are teaming up for a boutique crawl this weekend. Stop by any of the participating stores to get a passport, and if you get stamps at each of the seven boutiques, you'll be entered to win a drawing of $700 in gift cards. Details here.


More Simplified Stories

Meet the 2024 Sioux Falls Teacher of the Year
Susan Thies, a fifth grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School, chatted with Sioux Falls Simplified about what that recognition means to her, her philosophy on teaching and what’s changed over her 24 years with the district.
Get smart about Founders Day with Sara Lum
Sara Lum is the vice president of Startup Sioux Falls. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to talk about Founders Day on March 6 and the inaugural “State of the Startups” event.
Why a doula should be part of your postpartum support system
Many parents struggle through the postpartum period not knowing exactly what they need but knowing they need help. That’s where a postpartum doula comes in.


What I'm falling for this week:


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