Lutheran Social Services held an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 1, to bring together residents and professionals to talk and learn about its newly expanded services.

About 50 people attended the lunch event held at the Lutheran Social Services Grand Forks Program Center, 412 DeMers Ave.

According to Janell Regimbal, vice president of children’s services, the open house provided an opportunity for school counselors, church members and officers of the court to meet the staff and keep the group’s services in mind.

“Even though we’ve been here for a long time ... it’s not always top of mind until you need it,” Regimbal said. “We just wanted to do this open house to shine a light on what we are doing that is new, but also raise up the other things we have been doing for a long time.”

The group has expanded the services offered at the Program Center, becoming what is called a Family-Strengthening Hub. The hub offers a variety of social services, including the Healthy Families program, for families with children aged 0 to 3. The program works with families on a two-generation basis, parents and children.

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A grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies allowed the hub to expand its services to include Family Coaches. That program uses home visits to coach families with older children. The grant also allowed the hub to add an additional home visitor for the Healthy Families program in Walsh and Pembina counties, as well as establish Family-Strengthening hubs in Dickinson and Watford City.

There is also a Diversion program for families with children who may get into trouble with the law.

“We’ve always provided and had great collaborative relationships with the justice system, especially the juvenile justice system,” said Regimbal. “We have been, for many years, helping provide a bona fide diversion … instead of being placed on probation, the juvenile court refers them to us.”

Anita Adams, a social worker at the Northlands Rescue Mission, attended the event. She said she was looking for resources to help sustain people as they are incorporated back into the community.

Lutheran Social Services Restorative Justice Facilitators Mark Tobin and Peter Luney were on hand to discuss their work and the new hub.

“I think it’s at once essential and beneficial for the community,” Tobin said.

“Family is very important, and it’s in every program," said Luney, explaining the stronger families become the better the community will be.

Regimbal said she was thrilled by the turnout of the event.

“There has been a number of people that have come, some who we work with regularly, but others that we don’t know nearly as well,” she said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to have them get to know the staff of the various programs, ask questions and just visit and learn more about their role in the community as well.”

Contact Lutheran Social Services by calling (701) 772-7577.