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Lutheran Day came out of two joint board meetings of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) and Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) that took place in Springfield in the spring of 2003 and 2004. At those meetings, the leaders of those two major Lutheran human service provider organizations recognized that they had common concerns relating to their partnerships with state government, specifically with inadequate state funding for human services. As a result of those meetings, the two organizations resolved to reach out to other Lutheran organizations in Illinois to combine and organize our voices and our constituencies, in support of strengthening the public-private human services safety net in Illinois.

During the planning for the second joint board meeting, we were saddened to hear about the untimely death of retired U.S. Senator Paul Simon, a lifelong Lutheran, and a tireless and courageous champion for people in need in Illinois, across the U.S., and around the world. At the 2004 joint board meeting, Senator Simon's widow, Patti, joined with leaders of LSSI and LCFS to inaugurate the "Paul Simon Courage in Public Service" award that would be given in subsequent years to Illinois public officials who in some way exemplified the late Senator Simon's commitment to compassion and justice.