More open than usual: As we did during WWII, LSSND committed to serving all during COVID-19 battle

Updated: May 1, 2020

At the beginning of World War II, life was uncertain. The Lutheran Welfare Society was a relatively young, developing agency when its staff had to discern what it would mean to provide welfare services during a world war.

The agency was confronted with increased demands in every field of service — with every resource strained to meet the needs of North Dakotans. They did not let that stop them.

Luther Hall transitioned from an affordable residence for young women living or working in Fargo into a home for nurses in training. When the fraternity houses at NDSU were closed because so many of the young men had joined the service, the Lutheran Welfare Society began leasing the empty ATO house to be used as a temporary foster home for children displaced by the war.

A story was published in the April 1942 Messenger to serve as a metaphor for Lutheran Welfare’s new philosophy for delivering services:

After surveying the destruction to the front of his little shop caused by a bomb, a London merchant set about repairing the damages as rapidly as he could. When he had restored some semblance of order, he painted a crude sign “Open As Usual,” which he placed in his one remaining window.

The bomb had caused even more damage to the little shop next door. The whole front was blown away. However, not to be outdone by his competitor, the owner printed and placed this sign near the front of his shop: “More Open Than Usual!

Today the world faces another emergency.  And just as we declared in 1942, Lutheran Social Services of today is more open than usual in this time of emergency.”

Reassurance can be found through remembering the past. The circumstances for uncertainty may have changed, but the fact remains that this is not the first time LSSND has been called upon to help North Dakotans in a time of emergency.

Every program at our agency has adjusted to continue providing healing, help and hope to our neighbors. Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is committed to connecting those who need help with every resource we have in our toolbelt. Instead of cutting back services or canceling them all together, we welcome new clients with open arms.

We have no choice. We serve in the good and the bad times. Our neighbors need our help today more than ever.

The same Messenger from 1942 continued: “All established welfare agencies will be called upon to render services and Lutheran Welfare must be ready for the emergency; to provide a haven of refuge for the unfortunate.”

While many resources and routines have changed or gone away completely, LSSND is committed to remaining a constant in the community. A place of refuge.

To donate and help us remain “more open than usual,” visit

To learn more about specific services and resources or for program updates, visit the LSSND COVID-19 webpage:

– Micayla Bitz

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