Its been a while since our last blog mainly because I’ve been busy here in CA with local charity projects and have been waiting until there were more definite Christmas plans to post. Jerome and crew have been busy with the Halloween party and other projects so was glad to finally connect with them as Christmas is rapidly approaching. We’re hoping they receive other help as our small group can’t possibly supply everything needed for the 500+ kids attending the party. SFK “elves” haven’t been sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for info, they’ve been busy sewing clothes and quilts for the 80+ dolls heading to the Rez, making match games, play mats, tutus, hats and scarves, PJ’s, and putting together gift bags for boys and girls and some of the older kids filled with goodies.
The Halloween party was held Saturday night with 300 kids and 100 adults attending. They had plenty of food from the locals and groups that help the area. Kids dressed up in costumes that came in on the trucks or whatever they could put together from home. Pillows and pillowcases were given out to those who hadn’t received them in the past, Theresa said some of them were so happy to get one they immediately snuggled up with it. Thanks to everyone who sent pillows and pillowcases for the drive, kids always love getting them.
The home rehab project for the two veterans we told you about in the last blog has been finished. This project was a group effort starting with the grant written by Anne Fields from Lakota Friend’s Circle, Home Depot for the supplies through the grant, Bob and Mary Epps from Families working Together, volunteers from MN and the local community including the High Horse’s. The men are overjoyed with their newly repaired home and are still finding it hard to believe that complete strangers would come together and help them. Others in the community heard about the work and are asking to have their homes repaired too, which could be accomplished if more funding becomes available.
Theresa spent the last few days submitting 188 energy assistance forms to the tribal LIHEAP program that helps families get through the winter, usually a $250 allotment and a little more for the elders. It’s not a lot but helps, they can use the money for wood, propane or utilities. Energy costs are down and a family can now get a propane delivery of $125 instead of the $200 required last year which was hard for most families to come up with. This will also help Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (our “mother” group) with their heating program allowing them to help more families with the reduced costs. Please check out their energy program and give if you can, they help on Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.
Cold weather has already made it’s arrival on the Rez and the time for making and sending warm coats and winter gear is NOW! Coats, gloves/mittens, hats, scarves/gaiters, warm clothing, blankets/afghans, socks and boots in all sizes are needed in Wanblee and at the shelter to make it through the frigid days ahead. Babies and toddlers need warm clothing, sleep sacks, sleepers, PJ’s, blankets, sweaters, hats, and socks. Most of us have plenty of socks and since they’re relatively cheap we probably can’t imagine people not having them. I just read the one item homeless shelters never get enough of are socks and can attest to that as I see the homeless here in southern California sitting on the sidewalk with bare feet. While we don’t have the severe cold of SD it’s still too cold for bare feet in the morning and winter months.
The shelter is ready to open! The paperwork has been completed, the bank account opened with monies received from the grants, positions have been or are currently being filled, and safety inspections and repairs are completed. Kimmie Clausen has spent countless hours applying for grants and it has finally paid off. While the grants may not cover all the expenses and they will always be looking for funding, they now have the means to start helping women and children that so desperately need it. The monies aren’t there to hire a full staff so the Director and some local volunteers will fill the void until more funding becomes available. Although our group doesn’t help with the day to day cost of running the shelter our volunteers were instrumental in getting the shelter ready to open by supplying the things that were not in their budget. We sent pots and pans, bakeware, cutlery, utensils, dishes and small appliances for the kitchen; sheets, blankets, mattress pads, and pillows for the bedroom, towels, bathmats, and toiletries for the bath; toys, books, cd’s, and games for entertainment, and so many other things such as food, clothing, shoes, underwear, diapers, personal care and safety items, etc.
The shelter is in need of socks, underwear and PJ’s for babies, children and women as well as warm winter gear including coats, hoodies, hats, gloves, etc. Most of the kids coming to the shelter will be infant to age 12 although teens up to age 16 are accepted. Sizes from 3 months through kids 14/16 are needed most and smaller adult sizes can be used by teens. Women’s clothing is needed in sizes 3-4X, underwear 8, 9, and 10, and sock sizes 9-11. The shelter will take care of their clients first but shares excesses with the community as recently happened when a grandmother taking care of 14 kids, both grandchildren and foster kids, needed clothing so they could attend school. Since our group was so generous in sending needs for the shelter and the fact they haven’t opened yet, allowed the director to give clothing to the kids saying “it was the right thing to do and they needed to be in school learning”.
Kimmie also wrote and received grants for computers and other needed items for the youth center in Martin and is working on finding funds for building affordable housing for women leaving the shelter with nowhere to go. We’ll share more on those projects as we receive updates. Kimmie is one busy lady, we’re not really sure when she sleeps but she loves what she’s doing and sees so many needs in Martin and around the Rez that need addressing.
Now on to Christmas. The Christmas party is a big deal on the Rez, it’s the one time of the year parents want their children to receive something special to celebrate the season. Think back to your childhood (if you can!) when you just couldn’t wait to get up Christmas morning and see what Santa had left you under the tree. This doesn’t happen in most homes on the Rez which is why the High Horse’s and Kimmie want to make the day special for the kids.
The shelter plans to serve a Christmas dinner and has arranged to purchase food from the SD food bank for 18 cents a pound and will deliver it which helps their budget. They’ll have a Christmas tree too so if you have safe lights and ornaments please send, decorating a tree would be a great activity for the families to do and would add some holiday cheer. For kid’s gifts they’ve asked for hat/mitten/scarf sets and since we don’t know the ages that will be there we’ll plan on sending a few in each size to fit ages 1-16. Other things to send that will stay at the shelter are coloring books and crayons, books, workbooks, puzzles, games, dolls, dishes, Lego and other building toys, etc. SFK will be making “comfort bags” on an ongoing basis to give to traumatized children arriving at the shelter. We would like to add a book, stuffed animal and a blanket to each bag. If you want to help with that project send the bag and contents or just donate the items you have and the staff can make up the bags there. Please send items at the Sacred Shawl Society address.
Wanblee is expecting 500+ kids at their party on December 18th. They will be serving cookies and hot chocolate instead of a full meal since there’s a Thanksgiving dinner held for the community a few weeks prior. The party will not be held in the Kennedy hall this year but they will still have the “Parade of Lights”. Gifts will be given out to children along the parade route or delivered to their homes by Jerome, Theresa and other volunteers. They’re asking for gifts for kids infant through age 12, although gifts for teens are welcome as they rarely receive one. Each child will receive one gift and a treat bag filled with fruit, nuts and candy. Some gift ideas to send include warm hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, warm clothing, socks, underwear, toiletries including toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.; non-battery toys, dolls, trucks, games, coloring books/crayons, art supplies, jewelry kits, books, hair items for teen girls, baseball type hats for teen boys, balls of all types, bike tire repair kit, Frisbee, etc. Healthy food items such as nuts, granola bars, low sugar fruit snacks, etc. are good too. They have asked that you put each gift in a plastic bag and label it with gender and an approximate age. If you want to make a contribution towards refreshments and the treat bags send your donation to Lakota Friends Circle here. Please send parcels here.
They’re also hoping to deliver a blanket and new towel and washcloth set to each of the 20 elders aged 70+ in the community. If you can help out with this need they would so appreciate it.
Please join the SFK elves in making this holiday season extra special for our Rez kids! As always THANKS from Sew For Kids.
October is here and time to start on projects for the holidays and the upcoming winter season. There’s plenty of news to share, too much for one blog, so this one will focus on Wanblee and the next on the shelter in Martin. SFK volunteers have been busy sewing for our “pajama party” and have sent 159 pairs of PJ’s, 30+ pair of knitted/crocheted slippers, 85+ pillowcases and 84 new pillows to Wanblee and the shelter in Martin. All the pillows and most of the pillowcases and PJ’s went to Wanblee for the party, the shelter received the slippers and some pajamas for younger children. We’ll be sending more PJ’s to them as will be an ongoing need since kids will be taking them home when they leave. There’s still plenty of time to finish up any projects you’re working on as they won’t be given out until the end of the month. Here are a sample of some of the items that were sent. There are many people to thank for this project’s success.
Jerome and Theresa planned to have a special pajama/pillow party at the Kennedy Center, but decided to save the $50 rental fee for another day and combine their party with the Halloween party. A group of local volunteers got together and wanted to host a Halloween party for the kids on the 30th and asked the High Horses if they would help them find the resources. Whenever there is mention of doing something for the kids Jerome and Theresa just can’t say no. The group agreed to do all the work which includes preparing food, setting up booths, planning games and organizing the community “zombie walk” and of course the clean up afterwards. NAHA sent costumes on their last truckload so they’ll be given them out to kids without one or to those who’ve outgrown their old one. Sew For Kids’ main party commitments to the community are Christmas and Easter. We’re posting the needs list for the Halloween party for those that may wish to do something extra. Our volunteers do so much already and we don’t anyone getting burned out from too many requests.
Spook House/Carnival – October 30, 2015. Above are photos of last year’s party. What will we see this year?
The menu is healthy and will be fruit and veggie cups, PBJ sandwiches, cheese sticks for those with peanut allergies and bottled water.
Food Needs: sandwich/snack Bags, plastic fruit/veggie cups, bottled water, peanut butter, jelly, bread, cheese sticks. Produce for the cups: apples, grapes, bananas, oranges, snap peas, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, celery.
Booths Prizes: Food such as crackers, granola bars, etc., small toys, stuffed animals, pillows, etc.
Halloween Decorations: any kind
Obviously we can’t send fresh produce through the mail so Jerome suggested those that want to help with the food could send a small donation to Lakota Friend’s Circle through PayPal or by personal check. They would like to purchase the food in bulk at Sam’s club in Rapid City to save money as they’re expecting 200-300 people. Please send your donations here and state that it’s for food for the Halloween party. LFC is a 501c3 so you will receive a tax donation form.
Even the Grandma’s love going through the booths so this is definitely a day for all ages to enjoy. We’re excited to see more people in the community getting involved with projects and more organizations hosting events such as the Fire Department’s 4th of July party and the Ambulance Service’s movie nights, NAHA and local ranchers too. Now the High Horses can be spectators and enjoy the event or at least have more of a supervisory role. We’re also thrilled to see them making healthy food choices for the kids. Fruit and veggie cups were served at the Easter party and the kids loved them so they wanted to have them again.
The Woodchucks returned home from their summer jobs off the Rez and were raring to go when Jerome mentioned a rancher needed a lot of wood cleared from his creek beds. So last weekend, before any surprise winter storms hit, 30 men and women headed 50 miles north to gather, cut and load trucks with firewood. Theresa and her crew arrived around noon to serve a hearty meal to the hungry workers. Some of the elders have been calling about propane and wood as the Rez heating program doesn’t start until mid October. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit’s heating program follows the same schedule so the firewood will help keep people warm until those programs begin. Please visit Hearts website for more information on their heating program and how you can help, they are a 501c3 so donations are tax deductible. Wanblee is one of the communities they serve but since they depend solely on private donors we’ll have to wait and see how much assistance they can give this year. Most of you already know but for the newcomers, SFK is a special program under Hearts which makes all your donations through us tax deductible as well. We’ll be posting more information on heat for the Rez as we receive it.
Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle, recently applied for and won a $5000 Home Depot award! Now Jerome and his local crew, Bob and Mary from “Families Working Together” and a group of volunteers from Minnesota can begin work on the home of two men who’ve been living with a leaky roof for years and a bathroom with the outside wall missing. Bob has a construction company in Wisconsin and through some negotiations with Home Depot was able to stretch the original award to include repairing the bathroom at the same time. This will be the 3rd home that FWT has rehabbed over the last 2 years. The homeowners, one a disabled veteran and the other on dialysis, both have jobs helping a local rancher and earn $20 a day. There’s little money left over from their small income to pay for home repairs as they have to buy gas for the trip to work and the dialysis clinic. They are two very happy campers knowing that soon they’ll be living in a much warmer house, with a bathroom wall!
The Sewing Circle isn’t meeting formally in the Kennedy Hall because of the $50 user fee, but 6 women are sewing items for their homes, families and to sell, thanks to the machines and materials provided by this group. With winter rapidly approaching they want to make blankets so batting, fabric and thread are needed. A 97 year old elder with mobility problems wants to make blankets for those in need in the community and has asked for donations of fabric so she can cut out squares to piece together for quilt tops. We’re sure she could also use backing, batting and thread. Lets help this dear lady out, still giving at such a young age! Items can be sent here to the High Horses.
Last month one of our members, Darlene Dean, and her husband took a truckload of items to Wanblee. It’s a 12 hour drive from their home and this is the second year they’ve made the trip. The High Horses were delighted to hear they were coming, “such good people”, Jerome said. They collected loads of donated items from their community with the help of their two daughters, making it a family project. Darlene is a wonderful seamstress and makes really great things for the kids. Food, clothing, books, toys, bedding, household items and plenty of other things were on the truck and delivered to the High Horses, by 6:00 that same evening everything had been given out to those in need. Included in some of those boxes were 62 pairs of PJ’s for the kids Darlene had been collecting all year which certainly gave a boost to our PJ project numbers. While they were visiting, two people called the High Horses that were hungry and out of food and two elders called needing propane. Jerome told of a local man that recently took in a 10 year old boy needing a home but didn’t have any clothing for him. Thanks to all the donations the Dean’s delivered, they were able to provide clothing for the boy and help with some of his other needs. Many thanks and appreciation for all the hard work the Dean family did this year and for making the long drive to personally deliver it! .
One of the projects for this month and the next 2 months is warm clothing, outerwear and accessories for kids ages 0-16 for Wanblee and for women and children 0-16 for the shelter in Martin. Winter is the time when people are most vulnerable and susceptible to hypothermia, more so on the Rez where many live in cold, poorly insulated homes, some even missing doors and windows. They need our help now more than the rest of the year so get out your sewing machines, knitting needles or looms and crochet hooks and start making hats, mittens, cowls, scarves, socks, sweaters, slippers, blankets, sleep sacks for babies and anything else warm you can think of. Check your closets, garage sales and thrift stores for warm coats, hoodies and sweaters and send them to the Rez. If you have any boots, they would be most appreciated as few can afford to buy them, new or used in good condition are always welcome. Those who work out in the elements in the harsh weather would be grateful for a pair of warm boots to wear. These items can also be made and given out as Christmas gifts.
The Halfknits sent several warm blankets to the shelter as did Beulah Lindberg and Marilyn Lee Bellonci . These 2 talented ladies take squares from members of the Pine Ridge Elders group and turn them into warm blankets for the people. Vicki Sick also finished off an afghan she found at a thrift store and turned it into a useful blanket.
We are so thankful for all the volunteers who help out the Rez and our Wanblee and Shelter projects….. Sew For Kids Volunteers, Sew For Lakota Kids Yahoo group, Pine Ridge Elders Yahoo group, For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation Ravelry group, Lakota Friends Circle, Halfknits, Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Families Working Together…..each using their talents and much more to help those less fortunate. No one group or person can do it alone but together we can make a difference so we encourage you to check out these groups and join with us in our mission to make life a little brighter and happier for the children and their families on Pine Ridge.
The next blog will have the latest shelter news and more information about Christmas projects for both Wanblee and the shelter, we’re still waiting for details. Many, many thanks to each and every one of you for being the special people you are and for having such compassionate and generous hearts. You have made a huge difference to so many on the Rez and have especially made Jerome and Theresa’s and Kimmie’s jobs of helping their people so much easier. We simply can never thank you enough, although we’ll keep trying!
Summer’s winding down, days are getting shorter and temps are getting cooler at night which means fall is right around the corner. Children are back in school and like many kids across the country get up early in order to catch the bus for the long ride to school. Many people on the Rez live in rural areas and schools (tribal, public, private) are a long distance from their homes which means some children will spend over an hour on the bus every day. Many kids, especially the little ones, sleep on the bus until they arrive at school to get those extra ZZZ’s they still need. They also have to arrive early enough to have breakfast before classes begin. Nutrition plays a key role in a child’s ability to learn and some kids will arrive at school having had little or nothing to eat the night before so the breakfast they receive at school is vital for both their physical and mental health.
Because many households on the Rez can have 12 or more residents, kids don’t necessarily get a good night’s sleep so many are habitually tired. Most kids don’t have their own bedroom and may be sleeping in the living room on the floor with or without a shared mattress. There’s a lot of noise in homes with adults staying up or coming in late so it’s difficult to fall or stay asleep. I noted on visits to the Rez, that in many homes people are up late into the night and early morning hours. Many kids don’t own pajamas so will sleep in their street clothes or wear a T shirt and underwear to bed which is fine in the summer but not warm enough for the harsh winters of SD in the poorly heated and insulated homes most kids live in. Shared body heat from the family bed helps but isn’t the same as having a warm pair of pajamas and a blanket. If there is no mattress and you’re sleeping directly on the floor it’s doubtful you have a pillow.
We want to help kids stay warm this winter and get the best night’s sleep possible so this month we’re going to make PJ’s and pillowcases for the kids in Wanblee. They need pillows too so they can be purchased ready made or if you happen to have lots of fiberfill make your own. We’ve sent PJ’s in the past and the kids absolutely loved them as well as the pillows and pillowcases. They were so thrilled to get a “special” pillowcase made just for them!
So ladies get out your warm flannel and fleece and pajama patterns and get busy sewing for these deserving kids! If you want to help and don’t sew or are short on time, raid the sales racks at discount stores or shop the late season garage sales or thrift stores for deals. Sales have already started for winter fabrics if you need to stock up or raid your stash and combine different fabrics for a “custom” pair of PJ’s using color blocking, trims, appliques, etc. Make just the sleep pants and purchase a long sleeve top or make the set if you have enough fabric, even one pair of PJ’s will be a real treat for the kids. We need pajamas for boys and girls in toddlers 2-4T, kids 5/6, 7/8, 10/12, and teens 14, 16/18 and S/M adults. Used pajamas in good condition are certainly acceptable. Our goal is to provide 5 pair of pajamas in each size range, of course more would be better. Using fabric that’s unisex helps as we usually can’t get an accurate count of what is actually sent to the Rez. If you have baby sleepers feel free to send them along too. If you need free patterns check here , here and here . Please share pics of your projects with us so we can post them in the next blog.
Theresa High Horse has requested pillows and pillowcases for the kids again since her last “pillow party” was such a smashing success. The kids absolutely loved all the brightly colored pillowcases and if that wasn’t enough some received their very own pillow! She will need both pillows and cases again to hold another party and has kept a list of kids that received a pillow last time so those that still need one may get it this time. You can make them if you wish (young kids can have smaller decorator size pillows) or buy a few on the web and ship free. We would love all the kids to get a pair of pajamas and a pillowcase but if we don’t meet that goal we’re hoping at least to provide those kids that didn’t get a pillow and case at the last party with one this time around. Here is a great pattern to use for a pillow that will take you 30 minutes max to make and a way great way to use up those short pieces of cotton or flannel fabric. Non sewers and those short on time can of course send purchased pillowcases. Check Here for another way to make pillowcases.
We also want to provide pajamas for the children coming to the shelter (Sacred Shawl Society). No child will have PJ’s coming to the shelter as they will arrive with just the clothes they’re wearing and even if Mom had time to pack a small bag there are no pajamas to pack anyway. They want the kids to have a nice warm pair of pajamas to sleep in and be comfortable, especially since they’re coming in from a stressful situation. The shelter also wants the pajamas so they can provide something comfortable while the clothing they came in with can be laundered just to make sure there aren’t bedbugs, etc. PJ’s will be an ongoing need at the shelter, like socks and underwear they’ll leave with the child who’s worn them.
While baby sleep sacks and sleepers are needed and certainly can be sent, this project will concentrate on PJ’s for toddlers and kids in the same sizes as the Wanblee project. Our goal for the shelter is to send at least 3 pairs of PJ’s in the various sizes for each gender. If possible we’d like a few more in the toddler sizes because some are still potty training. Although the shelter can accept kids up to age 16, the Director expects to see children mainly aged NB- 8. Many kids on the Rez are bigger than their chronological age so the reason we’re asking for some larger sizes.
Women also need PJ’s and can wear sweatpants and sweatshirts or scrubs in large sizes 1X to 4X so if you have any in those sizes they would be appreciated. Some women will come in having been sexually assaulted so will need a medical examination, their clothing will probably be kept for evidence so they’ll need something clean and comfortable to wear.
If any of you like to knit or crochet or like to make fleece socks, those would be a nice accompaniment for the PJ’s to keep those tootsies warm.
Please make as many Pj’s pillows, pillowcases, socks and slippers as you can in any of the listed sizes and send them a the addresses here for Wanblee and for the Sacred Shawl Society (shelter) . If you want to join our Sew For Kids Volunteer site on Facebook or our Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo , we would love to have you work with us to help our Rez friends.
On a final note, in order for the shelter to open they still need some funds to pay salaries for the employees working at the shelter. Grants have been applied for but they haven’t heard yet if they’ll receive any. If you can help (any amount welcomed and appreciated) please go to their Go Fund Me page or their website to make a donation. They want to open the doors on October 1 as they’re getting many calls asking for help but for now they’ve had to turn them away. Please spread the word to anyone or any organization that may be willing to help them open their doors.
Thanks as always from SFK.
It’s hard to believe but school starts on the Rez in less than two weeks. The weather this summer has been cooler than usual with lots of rain until mid July when things started heating up. SFK spent most of July sewing/buying skirts, shorts and tops so kids will have some new clothes to start out the school year. Some parents won’t send their kids to school until they receive funds from the tribe for school expenses as they’re afraid of being judged for not being able to provide for their children. The downside of this practice is kids miss the start of school which puts them behind the other students and the monies allotted for each student is determined during the first week of school according to attendance, so everyone loses when kids don’t start school on time.
Our project for July was to provide new school clothing and judging by the numbers we met our goal. Our volunteers made # skirts, # shorts, and # pants and either sewed or purchased a shirt to complete the outfit. Some bought outfits as well. The pictures below show the beautiful results of what can happen when a group of caring and talented seamstresses get together! The lucky recipients of these beautiful clothes will truly feel special on their first day of school.
Kids always need school supplies, socks, shoes and underwear on the Rez. The sales are on in the big box stores so now’s the time to stock up on paper, notebooks, folders, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, glue sticks, pencil cases and book/messenger bags. As you shop for school supplies think about how a good education can be life changing for a child and they need these tools to start their journey. Pencil cases and book bags can be sewn, there are lots of free patterns across the web. Some kids might use their bags from last year, but most of the younger ones have beaten theirs up pretty badly and will need a new one. Sales are on for socks and underwear too and any of the above can be purchased now and sent for Christmas gifts. Jerome sends many thanks to all of you for the supplies already received including the box he received from Australia from Linda Faulkner and sends his sincere thanks for her gifts to the kids etc.
We’ve had a few new members join our group this past month and would like to extend a warm welcome to each of you. We’re so thankful you’ve decided to join our efforts in supporting the community of Wanblee and the new women’s shelter in the neighboring community of Martin just 30 miles away. Kimmie Clausen, director of the shelter and Jerome and Theresa from Wanblee have told us we are major contributors to their projects and without our help they would be doing their work with a lot less.
In other news, Youthworks will leave this week. These young people come in groups all summer long, stay for a week and help paint homes, mow lawns, weed gardens, and do various odd jobs for the community. They’re very helpful and hard working with many promising to stay in touch and send things back for the community. Group leaders from Youthworks and a few other visiting groups have offered to send loads of wood from the Nebraska and Colorado areas. Speaking of wood, a few ranchers about 60 miles away asked Jerome and his men to stop by the ranch and cut the wood that’s blocking the creeks because of the work of some very busy beavers. The Woodchucks haven’t been around much this summer as they get work in tourist areas, but those jobs will soon be coming to an end. They volunteer their time in the off season cutting wood for Jerome and the community so the money they make during the summer helps them get through the winter when they’re unemployed.
The fire department sponsored a parade on the 4th, kids got to see demonstrations of some of the equipment and received some fire safety education. Several people made a second fire engine possible because of the funds donated to repair the donated truck. We helped with some party food and some of our supporters sent in games. The kids had lots of fun evident in the below pictures.
The ambulance department has taken over showing movies and have been showing them outside all summer. Good to hear other organizations are getting involved in some of the community functions and giving Jerome and Theresa some much needed help. Jerome did mention they could use more popcorn, oil and bags if anyone would like to help.
NAHA and Running Strong are still helping out with some of their basic needs so we’re hoping that will include school supplies and maybe some toiletries too. They don’t know what’s on the trucks until they arrive and neither do we so needs are always changing if certain items do not come in. They’re still getting volunteers to help unload the truck and do the sorting. Jerome hasn’t been to the food bank this summer as they haven’t had any meat and that’s what people need. There’s a possibility they may be getting some food from the Sioux Falls food bank in the future, during a recent visit they told Jerome they’re in the area every six weeks so we’re keeping our fingers crossed they’ll come through for them.
Once school starts kids will receive breakfast and lunch and a snack before leaving for home which was started last year in case kids didn’t receive dinner at home. Theresa does get many knocks on her door from hungry kids asking for a sandwich and even receives calls from elders asking if they can get something to eat so she knows first hand who’s the most needy. Many thanks to those of you who sent coffee, tea, spices, flour, baking powder, yeast and sugar, the women were really in need and so thankful for your kindness.
The Pow Wow and Sun Dance were held in July and everyone had a good time. Jerome had to help rewire the grandstand and buy lights because the wire was just buried on the ground and not in a conduit so the lights were no longer functional. The 4 day ride to Rosebud will still be held but Jerome and Theresa may not be with them as they’re heading to Texas for a week to visit their daughter and granddaughter as soon as Youthworks leave. They need a break from the long hours they put in every day with community needs and from Theresa’s new job.
For those of you that like to work ahead September’s projects will be pajamas for the shelter and Wanblee and pillows and pillow cases for Theresa and Jerome so they can hold another pillow giveaway which was so successful last year. Many kids wear their street clothes to bed or just their underwear which might be ok in a warm home but not so good in a poorly heated one. At present the shelter has no pajamas for the kids so are really in need of some before they open. This will be a continual need as moms and their kids will arrive with little or nothing so the pj’s will be sent with them when they leave. They’re also in need of kids clothing 0-5T and women’s plus size clothing 2-4X and new women’s underwear sizes 10-12. We’ll be working on some kids clothing projects for the shelter in a few weeks, more on that later.
Our thanks to all of you who’ve helped with our summer projects. The women’s shelter is set to open October 1 due in large part to the generous contributions they’re received from this group. Please send your donations here and send a SASE if you would like a reply, buying stamps is expensive for these organizations already strapped for funding. For a tax receipt include a list of items sent in the package and request it be signed, dated and returned in the envelope. Both Wanblee and the shelter are happy to do it for you and appreciate all the work it takes to get a package to their areas.
Today I had another long conversation with Sacred Shawl shelter director Kimmie Clausen about current needs and a progress update. Work on the shelter is moving ahead rapidly with the help of some youth workers who are in the community for the summer. Kimmie and her 3 assistants are busy with paperwork, safety inspections and all the other red tape that needs tending to before they can open. They’re hoping for an opening date of October 1 which can’t come soon enough for those in need, they’re already receiving calls asking if they can take someone. The shelter in Mission, SD, which is off the Rez, is filled to capacity and they looking for help. This shelter is so badly needed and Kimmie told me again how much they appreciate all our help.
Capacity of the new shelter will be 20 people once the 3 rooms off the garage are remodeled. The old shelter, Cangleska, has been closed for five years, sits vacant and has been vandalized. They chose not to use that building as they wanted to start with a smaller place they could afford to operate.
Kimmie said every day seems like Christmas with all the boxes being delivered. She said without our help she didn’t know when or if they would be opening. Those groups helping with shelter needs are: Sew For Kids, (operating under Hearts of the Sacred Spirit), Pine Ridge Elders, Lakota Friends Circle, For the Children of Pine Ridge (Ravelry group), and Halfknits Charity Knitting and Crochet Group. Kimmie has received monetary help from several women’s groups and other resources so utilities and rent have been paid for the next year, the next largest expense will be salaries for the 3 employees needed to operate the shelter. They are appealing to the tribe for some money for salaries and food while they wait to see if any of the grants, that the Director has applied for , come in. Women admitted to the shelter can bring their children up to age 16, length of stay will vary depending on their situation but generally less than 30 days. They will be responsible for keeping their rooms and public areas they use clean, respect others privacy, keep their appointments, care for their children, etc.
The following items are still needed for the shelter:
The new bunk beds (full bottom, twin top) arrived this week and have been set up. They found another twin bed and have 3 hide-a-beds, two queen and one king. They will need to find funding for additional beds when the remodeled garage is complete but for now the total beds are 3 twin, 2 full, 2 queen, and 1 king bed, each needing sheets, pillows and pillow cases, and waterproof mattress pads. They would like to have 3 sets of sheets per bed as they will be shared by all members of the family and kids have accidents. Each mattress and pillow will need to be enclosed with a bedbug proof cover which also keeps out dust mites, myself and Janet will be donating those. They have 2 smaller cribs and may get 2 more, Kimmie is getting exact measurements of those. Blankets are arriving and donors are still busy making more, this is an ongoing need as winters on the Rez are brutal and if they have extra will be sent home with those that need them. Bedroom lamps would be wonderful as rooms only have workshop type fluorescent fixture on the ceiling and if the kids need to sleep but mom wants to read a small light is ideal. Small wastebasket for the rooms would be great as well. They will need 7 for the bedrooms and 2 for the living spaces. They do have garbage cans for the kitchen.
Large serving/cooking utensils such as spoons, forks and ladles, paring knives, spatulas, scrapers and lifters, good can openers, vegetable peelers,strainer, pizza, cookie, pie and muffin pans, rolling pin. They would like to have another crock pot as women will be using their own food and cooking for their family at different times. Plastic cups for adults and kids, plastic baby bottles, utensils and plates for babies, all BPA free. A few more pots and pans are needed as well as plastic storage containers in various sizes. For now they have enough dinner plates, skillets and cutlery. They need a few more booster seats and 2 high chairs. Laundry needs are detergent (pod type), an iron and ironing board, and clothespins for hanging out laundry. The cheap clothes pins sold at dollar stores aren’t strong enough to hold laundry on the line in the strong prairie winds, at least the heavy laundry.
They can always use more towels and washcloths as they will probably have to send a few out with people leaving who have none. Baby washcloths and towels would be great for the smallest ones. Kimmie is so thankful for the ones they’ve already received! Cotton bath mats would be great as they can be tossed in the washer, non-slip mats for the tub and shower are needed too. Other needs are 2 small plastic garbage cans, and night lights for bathrooms and hallways. Flashlights would be great for power outages.
6 Smoke detectors and 2 carbon monoxide detectors were sent by a generous donor, they will need more when the garage remodeling is finished. They found 2 fire extinguishers in the house to use for now and they’re working on the exit plan in case of fire.
They would like another DVD player and DVDs for all ages, books for kids of all ages and adults, puzzles, games, toys, stuffed animals, craft items such as beads, art supplies, etc. Majority of the kids will be infant through 8 although there may be some up to age 16.
Two sewing machines have been set up in the family room so they will need sewing notions, quilt batting, fabric, etc. Kimmie hopes the women can start to make star quilts to sell and help support the shelter. Crochet hooks, knitting needles, yarn and beginners “how to” books.
Pantry – toiletries – supplies
These things are always going to need replacing so consider adding to your box if you have room: Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bath soap, hand sanitizer, baby wash, diaper cream. Paper products – toilet paper, tissues, sanitary pads, diapers and pull-ups, wipes. Cleaning – laundry pods, garbage bags, dish soap, liquid hand soap, pine-sol type cleaners. Supplies won’t just be handed out when families arrive, they will have to ask if they need something as they are on a tight budget and need to use their resources wisely. For now they feel the laundry pods, while more expensive, will be the easiest to hand out and prevent wasting liquid detergent by improper measuring. The pods will be kept in a locked area so no chance of a child ingesting. We’re hoping in the future to convince them to make their own detergent. Pantry items – peanut butter, tuna, canned meat, dried beans, rice, mac and cheese, oatmeal, etc. Tools – hammer, screw driver set, nails, pliers, etc. We have a donor sending some of these.
They have no PJs and slippers so this will be one of our September projects. Socks and underwear (new only), shoes/boots, warm winter gear such as hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, coats, hoodies, fleece tops and pants. Winter items will be another one of our upcoming projects. Clothing for babies and young children are still needed. Bibs of all sizes for up to age 3 , burp pads and receiving blankets are needed . Baby blankets are needed to bundle up kids in cars, and to cuddle babies in mom’s arms. Sleepsacks are great for the kids ages 0- 24 months and are especially needed for ages 0-12 months as that is what goes over the sleeper . No blankets are to be in the bed at those ages to decrease the SIDs risk for the babies. There is a high incidence of SIDS on the Indian Rez. Sleeping in a crib with no toys, pillows or blankets and sleeping on their backs has reduced the number of cases of SIDS across the nation. The babies use the blankets when moms are watching over them .
Well those are the latest needs, we’re hoping once they open and get situated the list will be a lot shorter, mostly just replacing ongoing needs. The next blog will focus on what our SFK volunteer facebook group has been doing this past month, introducing a “comfort bag” project for kids entering the shelter and what we’ll be doing in August for the Wanblee Community.
Thanks for your big hearts and continuing support of SFK! The address for the shelter is here. Please scroll down the page to find it. Monetary donations are accepted on their site or you can mail in a check. Please note on your donation that you want it to go to the Sacred Shawl Society. Thank you .
Janet S , my co-administrator on SFK stopped off at the Women’s Shelter in Martin to meet the Director – Kimmie Clausen, to drop off stuff and hopefully tour the place.
Here is the note she sent back to me . She may have photos in the future and will try while on the Rez but depends on connections that are available to her.
This note clarifies some of the information that we told you about.Thank you Janet for taking the time to educate us. It looks like we will have a nice working relationship with Kimmie and the Sacred Shawl Society in addition to helping the community of Wanblee.
Where do the days go, it always seems during summer they pick up speed and fly by even faster. Jerome and Theresa are busy with various projects around the community taking advantage of all the volunteers that show up to help each summer. Since there isn’t a lot of spare time to process shipments we’re giving them a break and working on projects to be shipped later, back to school clothing and supplies, cold weather gear and even Christmas gifts. The SFK Volunteer group is having a skirt and shorts sew-a-thon so kids will have a nice outfit to start school. They are scouring thrift stores and department stores shopping for just the right shirt to complete their outfit. Come on over and join us as we work on projects together, share ideas and patterns and make new friends.
In the meantime we’ve learned of a new women’s shelter opening soon in Martin, SD (not too far from Wanblee) called the Sacred Shawl Society (501c3), a program of Wild Horse Butte CDC . Community Development Corporations or CDC’s were formed across the Rez in the nineties to develop the most poverty stricken areas, Wild Horse Butte serving the LaCreek district is the only surviving CDC. Please visit their website to learn more about their work of providing affordable housing and access to health care to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Recent figures report PRR is short about 4500 homes which explains why it’s not uncommon to find 20 or more people living in a 3 bedroom house.
The Sacred Shawl Society was formed in direct response to the overwhelming need for services related to domestic violence/sexual abuse so prevalent across the Rez. Please read more about them here and visit their facebook page for updates. Kimmie Clausen, Director and two staff members will be overseeing daily operations of the shelter. The shelter is located in a building provided by the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority located just across the border from Martin. The property also has a two car garage they’re planning to remodel into additional bedrooms making the shelter capable of housing up to 8 families at one time. This will be the only shelter on the Rez since Cangleska closed about 5 years ago due to financial difficulties. Women have been sent off the Rez to safe houses which adds further trauma as they’re removed from the care and support of family.
The building’s lease has been paid for a year by a generous donor and utilities have also been paid for by another generous donor. Kimmie has applied for a 3 year grant to pay for the day to day operations and employee salaries. The women and children can never be left alone so employees will have to be present around the clock. At present funds are being provided by a few small grants and from organizations and individuals that support women’s issues, they’re also looking for energy assistance. They’re hoping to get some donations from NAHA (as do the High Horses) on a monthly basis. NAHA brings whatever they have on hand, requests for certain items can be made but there are no guarantees it will be provided. Since they’re operating on a shoe string at the moment and don’t have a funding source for food women will have to use their SNAP cards. They will need some help to stock their pantry as women coming in won’t have food with them and since they’ve been traumatized it might be a few days until they’re well enough to shop for food if they have any food stamps left to spend for the month. The health clinic is very close to the shelter so women and children can receive medical care for injuries including rape and can also use the counseling services. They’re hoping to hold parenting classes, teach money management and encourage getting GED’s so they can go on to college which is possible through PELL grants and TANF.
Kimmie says she also needs women to help each other, watching each other’s children when they have court appearances, medical appointments or just need some alone time without the stress of children. Women can stay at the shelter for up to a month and won’t be sent back to their abusive situations. Children will attend school and have the option to go to the school they usually attend or the local school in Martin.
So we can help them get those doors open by providing items, some must have’s and some that are on their wish list. The building came with a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave and coffee pot and they recently acquired a freezer that will do for now. There are no furnishings so they’ve been going to garage sales and thrift stores trying to find the basics. They have found some furniture but still need double beds, dressers, book shelves, lamps, cribs, high chairs, booster seats, pack and play’s, etc. they can get car seats from the Public Safety Department on the Rez. If you happen to live in the area and have any of these items please contact the director.
Everything has been given a fresh coat of paint, most of the living area is in shades of beige, there’s a pink and a blue bedroom with matching carpet and the kitchen is decorated in shades of red. They want the space to look welcoming and inviting so families will feel comfortable and safe. The two bedrooms have a bunk bed in each, full bed on bottom and twin on top and will try to put a crib in each room if they get donations. The living area has a hide a bed couch, chair, TV and a small table for the kids with some toys and books, there’s also a quiet room with a desk and computer. There are 2 decks but only one is usable, they could use some lawn chairs and a small eating table. They do have a nice lawn so will need a lawnmower and the Director plans to put in a vegetable garden next year. Plans for the future are a playground for the kids with swings, slide, and a sandbox. Below is a list of needs, some will need replacing as they wear out or are given to families on their departure.
Clothing – Many women arrive at the shelter with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing so clothing for kids, babies and adult women are needed in various sizes – sleepwear, underwear and socks (new only), pants, shirts, hoodies, shoes, etc. Coats and other cold weather gear for winter which will most likely leave with the recipient so will be an ongoing need.
Kitchen – Potholders, dishcloths, dishtowels, dish soap, scrubbers, bottle brush, spatulas, large spoons and forks, sharp knives, measuring cups and spoons, silverware, good quality can openers, cloth napkins, tablecloths (when we get table size), plastic drinking glasses, coffee mugs, pots and pans especially some skillets, bake ware, tea kettle, clock, plastic storage containers, garbage bags. Make sure all plastic donations are BPA free.
Bathroom and toiletry needs – Bath towels, washcloths, hand towels, toilet paper, tissues, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, combs and brushes (new only), nail care items, hair dryer, sanitary pads, shower caps, razors, soap, washable cotton bath mats, toilet brush. The 2 showers have glass doors and one of the bathrooms has a tub for the kids.
Bedroom – Flat and fitted sheets for full and twin beds, pillowcases, pillows, blankets, afghans, quilts, mattress pads (waterproof is best), and pillow covers. Zippered covers that totally encase the mattress and box springs are especially desirable as children are bound to have accidents and bed bugs won’t be able to cross the barrier and get into the mattress.
Toys – for various ages – trucks and cars, dolls and accessories, play dishes, blocks, Legos/Duplo’s, board and card games, puzzles, paper, coloring books, crayons, glue sticks, safety scissors, colored pencils, pencils, play dough, paint sets, stuffed animals, etc. They currently have very few toys.
Outside toys – balls, sand box toys, frisbee, skipping ropes, hula hoops, bean bags, chalk for hopscotch, etc.
Living room – throw pillows, small afghans and quilts, books for all ages, DVDs for adults and children.
Safety equipment – general purpose fire extinguisher(s), smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and batteries for all of the above, night lights.
Baby needs – sleepsacks, sleepers, onesies, baby clothes in various sizes and seasons, bibs, burp cloths, baby blankets, baby towels and washcloths, diapers in all sizes and wipes, diaper covers, diaper cream, plastic baby bottles (BPA free) and nipples for various ages
First Aid Kit items – band aids, antibiotic cream, gauze, tape, thermometers, alcohol swabs, peroxide, anti-itch lotion, etc.
Laundry – laundry soap, fabric softener sheets or liquid, stain removers, sturdy clothes pins, those from the dollar stores break easily in the prairie winds sending the clothes flying, laundry baskets.
Pantry items – Coffee, tea, coffee filters, creamer, sugar, flour, baking soda and powder, salt, dried milk, sugar substitute, peanut butter, canned tuna, salmon, and chicken, hot chocolate, boxed mac and cheese, rice, dried beans, dried fruit, macaroni, spaghetti, cooking oil, spices, yeast, crackers, canned fruits, vegetables and soups, oatmeal, baby formula and cereal, and large Rubbermaid type containers to use for canisters. These are things that can be stuck in the corner of a box of other items you may be sending.
Sewing notions – SFK is sending out a sewing machine (maybe 2 if there’s room), thanks to Janet my co-administrator. Not only can they repair their clothing but several women make star quilts and they want women at the shelter to help make some to sell or raffle for the shelter. Sewing is also therapeutic and helps keep your mind occupied so you can forget your troubles for a little while. They will need quilting weight cottons in prints and solids, thread, sewing scissors, quilting rulers, muslin for backing, batting, etc. This project is not an immediate need as they are still in the beginning stages of getting the center up and running but certainly a future project. An iron and ironing board would be great as well as rotary cutters and all supplies. Will have to ask if quilters on the Rez use them.
Lawn care – lawnmower, folding lawn chairs
Office supplies – paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, copy paper, paper clips, etc.
This is a long list of needs but one that is doable if we all work together. Please make sure your items meet our donation guidelines. Kimmie, the shelter director, will update the site once she receives the things they need and will also let us know of current needs. While we’re out shopping and sewing for the shelter Kimmie will be getting her forms lined up for admissions, fire inspections, and all the other red tape she needs to take care of. We are not forgetting about Wanblee and our commitment to them, we’re just adding another area that really needs our help. Thank you all for helping make this shelter a reality for the women and children on the Rez. Please mail material donations here:
Via USPS (packages and letters)
Wild Horse Butte
Sacred Shawl Society
PO Box 488
Martin, SD 57551
Via Fedex/UPS packages
Wild Horse Butte
Sacred Shawl Society
401 5th Street
Martin, SD 57551
If you want a receipt for taxes send a list of your items and a copy for the organization with a SASE and ask them to sign that it was received and have it sent back to you. Monetary donations can be made at the site through PayPal or a check mailed directly. Make sure you indicate where you want your donation used.
Thank you all for your continuing support and dedication to improving the lives of families on Pine Ridge!
Sorry for the delay in getting the blog out, I’ve been playing phone tag with the High Horses but have finally made contact so on to the monthly news.
School’s out, kids are getting to sleep in unless they’re attending summer school, and volunteer groups will soon be arriving on the Rez. Jerome and the directors of YouthWorks have been busy planning work projects for the youth that come to the Rez each year to help paint houses, mow, clean up empty lots and gardens, etc. Bob and Mary from Families Working Together are coming out next week to help rehab Jerome and Theresa’s daughter’s trailer which according to Jerome needs a lot of work but was what they could afford and is paid for. They will need the help of a local rancher to install a water and sewer line as currently the home has no plumbing facilities and they’ve been using an outhouse (common on the Rez) and showering and getting water from their parent’s home. Jerome received the lots from his parents when they passed away so now one of his children is making use of that space. This summer the group will also be roofing a house for two men who both work but earn about $20 a day helping a rancher. One of the men is disabled and the other is on dialysis, what little they earn is used to pay for gas to and from the clinic. The roof will cost around $5000 as it has to be taken down to the rafters and rebuilt, they’re hoping to have it completed before winter sets in.
They’ve had lots of rain on the Rez and creeks are flooding as well as some basements in the housing project. South Dakota’s rainfall was below average but now they’re ahead so no water restrictions for the time being, hopefully this will help with the brush and forest fires the state has every year. The temperature today was 94 degrees and just a couple of weeks ago they were experiencing their second snowstorm for the month of May! The flooding has made some of the roads in the outlying areas impassable and Jerome and the fire department have brought in heavy equipment to open roads so people can get out and emergency vehicles can get in if needed. We told you in our last blog the fire department needed to raise $600 to get a second pump truck repaired, we’re happy to report, with the help of our group, $550 was raised and the truck is up and running. The community will hold taco and bake sales to raise the $50 needed to finish paying the repair bill. The truck has already been put into commission when it was recently used to pump water from 7 flooded basements, something that needs to be done quickly to prevent black mold from forming which is a big health issue on the Rez.
The ambulance service recently held an education and demonstration event, SFK was asked to help with food donations but we weren’t given enough prior notice and the request came while I was on vacation so we couldn’t help. Unlike the fire department which is run by a local volunteer group, the ambulance service is owned by the tribe. It has many needs that are not being fulfilled but the local EMT’s wanted to demonstrate what they do and let the kids see the inside of an ambulance. We admire those that take the initiative to educate kids about local services and this may even inspire some to choose a career in the medical field. Food is always served at these events because people are always a little hungry, or a lot, depending on their circumstances, on the Rez and this entices people to attend their programs so they can educate. Some of the food was provided by Jerome and Theresa and the rest was potluck style for those that could afford to bring something. Maybe we can help in the future if they make this a yearly event.
A July 4th celebration is in the works with the fire department planning to take the opportunity to demonstrate their equipment to the community and teach fire safety. Most homes don’t have smoke detectors and unfortunately sometimes children are left alone so they want to teach them “Stop, Drop and Roll” and other life saving skills so they can safely get out of their homes in case of fire. Fire safety may or may not be taught in the schools as there are no fire departments that fight structural fires on the Rez, they must come in from outside communities. If you work for a fire department or know someone that does and could help us get educational material and/or the badges and fire hats that they could give out to kids at demonstrations, please let us know here . Again this event has little lead time , but if they have these events on a yearly basis, we can schedule them into our yearly plans.
For this event we’re requesting monetary donations to help purchase food. They hope to have fireworks for the celebration but will need to get those funds from other sources. They estimate 250 people will attend which translates to 250 hamburgers, hot dogs, and bottles of water, buns to go with the above, assorted chips, 8 watermelons, plates and cutlery. Message from Jerome “Your assistance will be greatly appreciated, Thank You and God Bless you for all your contributions to our community.” Sam’s prices for boxes of hamburgers (32 count) $29.95, all beef hotdogs (80 count) $21.95, bottles of water (32 count ) 5 watermelons ($5.95). You can send Walmart gift cards or a donation to Lakota Friends Circle (LFC) at the address on this page or donate via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org). SFK administrators will be helping with some of these costs. Anne will send a charitable donation form to anyone donating directly to Lakota Friends Circle, if you send gift cards save your receipt and make the card out to Lakota Friends Circle/Theresa High Horse.
A group from Minnesota visited the Rez on Memorial Day, coming with them was the owner of a bike shop who was a past Youth Works volunteer. He brought some bikes for the kids and did a few repairs while there and is hoping to return this summer with more needed parts. The High Horses are planning a return to trip to Rapid City to work with the Yellow Bike Project repairing bikes and bringing some more back for the local kids. They estimate from school records there are about 600 children in Wanblee which means they need a lot of bikes to fill all the requests. For those interested in helping with the bike project they could use tire repair kits, bike wrenches, inner tubes, etc. and the kids would love lights, bells and anything else to give their bikes “personality”. Roads on the Rez aren’t great and kids run over sharp rocks and other debris so get a lot of flat tires. Would be great if they could get a volunteer bike repair team going with the local teens. They also need bike safety education and helmets but will need to research that further to get them at a good price.
Many children were smiling last week, thanks to an organization visiting the Rez, that brought a load of toys. The moccasin trail was set into motion by making a couple of phone calls and by afternoon all the toys had found a home with some very deserving children. In recent weeks they’ve also received a few deliveries of toiletry items from NAHA and some dry food staples from Running Strong. The food bank hasn’t had any meat available lately so no trips have been made there as that’s what most people want and need. Jerome did get a call from the food bank about fresh fruits and veggies free for the pick up but sadly they didn’t have gas money at the time.
Movie nights still happen when the weather cooperates, rain has been the issue for the past few weeks. They hold the movies outside so they can save the $50 fee for renting the Kennedy Hall for other community needs. Food supplies for movie nights are always welcome….popping corn, oil, popcorn bags and drink mixes. Other food requests from families are the following :Sugar, Tea, Coffee, Flour, Ground Cinnamon, Baking Powder, Yeast, (sugar substitute, Splenda, Truvia), Salt, Pepper, and Corn Starch. The smaller items can be tucked in a small space in a box you are sending. For the larger items , a monetary donation to LFC or again a Walmart card to purchase the items would make more sense to avoid the shipping cost.
Another event planned for the end of the summer is a 4 day horse ride from Wanblee to Rosebud with people joining in along the way. Trucks follow the group with supplies such as food, water, camping gear and a corral for the horses. They need tarps or waterproof mats for the ground, sleeping bags, blankets, paper/plastic plates, cups and cutlery and any other camping gear you can think of. Jerome said all donated items will be collected at the end of the ride and stored for next year. Some people have sent air mattresses (thanks Debbie in Illinois), yoga mats, and others are crocheting mats from recycled plastic bags. Kids love the outdoors and their horses so this will be a great experience for them and a perfect opportunity to have different generations come together and share stories, culture and ideas with each other, the Lakota are an oral society.
SFK seamstresses have been busy putting finishing touches on the summer clothing they’ve been busy creating for the kids. Our volunteers put their hearts and souls into making unique, one of a kind pieces as you will see in our next blog once the final photos are in. Some will create an outfit from scratch, others scour garage sales and thrift shops looking for the perfect piece to complete a set, and still others recycle clothing into a completely new garment. Many have been sending games, books, craft and sports items to help keep the kids busy this summer. We’ve said it before and will continue saying, “we have the best volunteers”!
In addition to needs mentioned above we have some hard core sewers that need projects to work on. Although school just ended we’re going to start working on projects for the beginning of the new school year.
June – Miscellaneous needs/projects
July – Early Christmas gifts/Household linens
Start planning gifts that are labor intensive such as afghans, quilts, jackets, etc. Towels and other linens are a luxury item on the Rez, we’re adding this need to July as stores will start running sales for students going off to college, school supplies will also start going on sale. Also requested for kids are pillowcases and pillows, the kids love them!
August – Back to School
Socks, underwear, shoes, school supplies. Watch for those Back to School sales that start the end of July, school starts on the Rez mid August. If you like to make underwear there are several free patterns on the web just search Pinterest, do a Google search or try these boys boxers or this pattern for both. I was recently looking at a list of needs for homeless shelters, at the top were socks underwear, shoes, blankets and toiletries with a towel and washcloth. Warm clothing will be needed for winter which will be the focus for fall.
Thanks to our volunteers for sewing clothes for the children of Wanblee, they’ll be the best dressed kids for miles around!! Last year some of the girls at the Pow Wow received one of those beautiful dresses you made, which made it extra special! If you want to join us and sew or craft you can find us here or here.
I’ve talked with Jerome about donors receiving thank you notes from them acknowledging receipt of their packages. Because the number of volunteers has increased and because Theresa is now working with the community tribal leaders, and because summer is the only time they have decent weather to work on outdoor projects, it’s become extremely difficult for Theresa to write those wonderful letters you’ve all received in the past. She loves writing them but feels she can do more for the community by working with the tribe which takes up most of her spare time. What little time she does have is spent finding and helping those most in need. So we’ve worked out a system ….First we recommend you track all your packages so you know they’ve arrived. Theresa and Jerome are friends with all the FedEx and UPS drivers so they always get those deliveries. Those mailing through the PO can pay a small fee to track packages, well worth the small cost….Second we will speak to Jerome directly and give you the latest updates. We know this doesn’t replace one of those wonderful letters from Theresa but hopefully this will be acceptable for now.
You can include a SASE, an email address or phone number in your shipment, if Jerome has time he will sometimes call or email you. For those of you wanting a charitable tax form, make 2 copies of the Lakota Friends Circle form on this site, fill in both of the forms with your donation list and send it in a SASE to Lakota Friends Circle. The High Horses will keep one for the organization records and then send the other back to you in the SASE. If you have questions for them, make a list and ask yes or no questions, such as “Is this Useful?” If you send a letter and get no response, please contact me here. Thanks for your help and understanding and your generosity to the people of Pine Ridge. All material donations can be sent to the Lakota Friends Circle Wanblee address listed here.
The 2015 school year will be coming to a close this month which means kids can enjoy sleeping in, playing with friends, and taking a break from homework…….it also means they will need summer clothing and shoes. Buying summer clothes isn’t something most parents on the Rez think about as they don’t have the finances and since they’re not in school they feel their kids won’t be judged by what they’re wearing. SFK wants to make sure the kids have some play clothes and maybe a nice outfit to wear for a special outing such as the Pow Wow held during the summer.
Kids on the Rez like to do many of the same things our kids do but often don’t have the equipment for sports activities. They love to play baseball/softball, basketball, soccer and other sports which keeps them active and helps with weight control which hopefully leads to avoiding or at least delaying the onset of diabetes so prevalent in the Native American population. The kids in Wanblee are very fortunate to have the only swimming pool on the Rez so spend time there having fun and cooling off from the hot summer days. Some kids go camping with their families or attend day camps where they learn about horse and other animal care, if they have the money and transportation to get there. Older kids may hunt and fish with a family member, most kids like to hike and explore and learn about nature. They may attend a summer program that teaches kids survival skills passed down from their ancestors. They look forward to movie nights held outside at the High Horse’s during warm weather so videos and popcorn are welcome .
Kids love to ride their bikes, if they have one, and there’s a bike safety weekend being planned sometime this summer. They also love to ride horses, in fact this summer they’re planning to take a group of kids on a 4 day ride to Rosebud Reservation camping along the way which will be a great experience for them and something to look forward to. Evenings in front of a campfire will be a great opportunity for storytelling and learning about their culture and traditions. Many participate in crafts and other activities with volunteer groups visiting the Rez that come to help with home repairs and other projects in the area. We’re hoping some of the volunteers are skilled at knitting or crocheting or other needle arts and can help the kids learn a new skill. Kids love to read and play board games and books can be checked out from the school library when they’re open. Some kids will have to attend summer school so they can complete their studies and move to the next grade. Especially important for the kids is the breakfast and lunch they receive there which helps families struggling to feed their children during the summer.
We were going to share summer patterns and ideas with you but decided against it since the group of sewers, crafters and shoppers we have on our Sew For Kids Volunteer group on Facebook doesn’t need any help, in fact they’re teaching and helping us! To say these ladies are amazing is an understatement, come on over, join us and see for yourself. They know where the best sales are, where the greatest patterns are, how to make dresses from old shirts, and how to combine fabrics and use trims on clothing that would make any child feel special wearing it. We have some that are expert “couponers”, thrift store and garage sale shoppers and others that routinely “pick” their friends and families closets looking for donations.
Jerome and Theresa always comment on the quality of goods that come from our group and we’re so thankful everyone follows the donation guidelines. Word has gotten out around Wanblee about all the pretty dresses and skirts that are made and sent to the High Horse’s and the girls have told them to please let them know if another shipment comes in. We’ve always striven to send good clothing, outerwear, etc. to the Rez but really didn’t focus a lot on “dress up” clothes until Carol B. J. approached SFK about sending dresses from Dress A Girl Around The World. They had sent dresses to another part of the Rez but didn’t receive any feedback and were still looking for a place to send to. Well to make a long story short, the Wanblee girls loved them…..really loved them and eagerly wait for the next shipment to arrive. Not only have the dresses given the girls something to look forward to but they’ve given SFK some more wonderful volunteers that have, quite frankly, changed our group because of their sewing skills and generous hearts.
Many times the Rez receives donations from large groups or from the trucks that contain clothing that’s soiled (gross!), outdated, torn, with broken zippers and missing buttons, or just inappropriate for their lifestyle. Families don’t have the skill or resources needed to make the clothing wearable and volunteers don’t have the time or facilities to wash dirty clothing. Doing laundry on the Rez is always difficult, very few have a washer and Jerome and Theresa have gone through 4 already because they allow anyone in the community the use of theirs if they ask. Theresa has told me, on more than one occasion, how disheartening it is to receive someone’s dirty laundry as a donation. People on reservations across the US are already beat down and live a hard life, sending dirty or broken items only reinforces the feeling that they’re seen as second class citizens despite being the first people in this country! Jerome and Theresa and SFK certainly don’t want to give dirty or inferior clothing to kids who already feel they’re worthless and have no future, living in an area with a high suicide rate makes it even worse. Their kids are like our kids, they may be poor but they have the same feelings, the same likes and dislikes and want the same fashions they see on TV or when they venture off the Rez. The saying “clothes makes the man” does have some merit as looking good on the outside helps you feel good on the inside. If donations are clean but not suitable to wear they can always be recycled into blankets for the family and zippers and buttons can be saved for repairs or a new garment. One of the ladies is using old clothing to make rag rugs for people to put on their cold floors. Being poor takes up a lot of your time as you’re constantly looking for resources to survive. Enough said but we wanted to tell you why we appreciate all the time and energy you spend making these kids feel special!
We know from the Volunteers Facebook group many of you have been busy sewing or shopping since the Easter party but for those not on the group we’re repeating the needs list again. The following needed for boys and girls, babies through teens.
Shorts and lightweight pants
Tops – T-shirts and shirts, summer weight, long and short sleeves
Shoes – athletic type for running and sports, flip flops, sandals, etc.
Socks and underwear
Sun hats – most can’t afford sun screen and the summer sun is intense in SD
Outerwear – sweaters, hoodies, lightweight jackets
For Girls – dresses and/or skirts to dress up for Pow Wow events
Swimsuits and towels
Always welcome for the kids…..basketballs, softballs, bats, soccer balls and other sports/outdoor game equipment, videos, books, craft kits or crafting supplies, art supplies, any summer related activities. Items can be sent here.
We’ll be sharing photos of completed projects and purchased donations at the end of the month, so please send them in or post on our flickr site. We couldn’t do this without you, we have THE BEST volunteers!
We were hoping to have the blog up a week after the party but seems something always delay sour plans, this time we were waiting for a party report and pictures from Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle (LFC), who made the long trip from her home in Georgia to Wanblee to help with the Easter party. Her return trip home took a lot longer than usual due to all the spring storms thankfully she arrived home safe and sound. Janet has been on vacation for two weeks and I’ve had a steady stream of company visiting so enough with the excuses let’s get to the news.
The party was a great success and everyone had fun adults included. There were over 150 kids aged 4-12 which is less than last year but there were lots of teens, parents and elders which brought the total attendance to over 300. The weather cooperated for once and they held the barbecue outside serving hot dogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings, fresh veggie cups for the children and watermelon for everyone. Thanks to all your generous donations there were enough funds to purchase fresh fruit and nuts for the kid’s treat bags. NAHA sent a pallet of candy and although we had discussed with the High Horse’s about offering healthy alternatives, the volunteers helping with the party thought it should be given out to the kids. It will take a while to change that mindset, they feel their kids don’t get the treats our kids do so when candy comes in they feel they should give it out. About half of the population on the Rez has diabetes (they have a genetic predisposition) and tooth decay and poor nutrition are constant issues with kids so candy isn’t really what they need but like all kids if they see it they want it.
The Easter egg hunt was held inside so they could better manage the different age groups participating, 4-6 went first with 7-9 following and then finishing with 10-12. We outdid ourselves in the gift category, there were fewer kids than expected so everyone got one of the cloth bags you made stuffed with more than the usual amount of goodies. NAHA came a few days before the party and their volunteers sorted items according to age and gender and then made up the gift bags with other locals pitching in. It was a busy week for the High Horses and their friends, not only did they have to prepare for the party and unload the NAHA truck, but they also had to drive to the village of Pine Ridge to pick up food packages for families donated by Running Strong, deliver them, then head to Rapid City to get food for the party. Keep in mind Pine Ridge is over 90 miles each way from Wanblee and Rapid City is over 100 not including all the added time and miles it took to deliver all the food packages. Thanks again to everyone who donated money for the food expenses and others who spent countless hours making or buying all the gifts for the party. We’ve heard over and over again everything sent by our group is of the best quality and beautifully crafted. We’re so lucky and grateful that our group cares to send the very best, thank you everyone!
A load of 35 afghans came in before the party donated by Halfknits, a volunteer crochet group from Dallas, TX, which were promptly delivered to White River nursing home in White River, SD where personnel gladly accepted them for their patients as they were in need of more blankets. I would not be surprised if they also took over some washcloths and soap that this group made. At present they’re trying to find funding to keep the doors open as they provide care for 40-45 seniors. They probably have many more needs and if we receive more information will post the list for you.
Recently Jerome connected with the Yellow Bike Project in Rapid City. This non-profit’s mission is to provide bicycles, tricycles, scooters, wagons, and exercise equipment to recipients throughout the Black Hills. The High Horses took a group of adolescents and adults to their workshop and repaired 18 bikes. Those bikes the kids fixed for themselves became theirs and the other 8 were given out at the party raffle. They had a great experience and will go again soon so more kids can “earn a bike”. One of the volunteers coming out this year from Youthworks is going to run a bicycle clinic teaching kids how to do basic repairs such as fixing flat tires and run a bicycle obstacle course teaching kids how to ride safely.
Jerome and Theresa’s friends Bob and Mary, who run the non profit Families Working Together, discussed building a community center to be used for activities for kids and their families. This non profit owns a plot of land in Wanblee so finding a location isn’t a problem. Due to the high cost of materials they’ve had to downsize their current building plans and will build in stages so they can get started as soon as possible. They’re currently trying to get a donation for a pole barn. Both Jerome and Bob, who owns his own construction company, have building skills so along with some of his work crew and local Rez volunteers they plan to build part of it this summer if they get enough donations for supplies. The Kennedy Hall is a great building but has too many issues, one being a $50 fee (which comes out of Jerome and Theresa’s pocket) each time the building is used, even for a few hours to process NAHA deliveries for the community. Since the Kennedy Hall is the current community building any pre-planned event will be canceled if someone needs the building for a funeral, etc.
The new proposed center could be used for many activities including education. Children in the area have three schools they can attend…Crazy Horse in Wanblee, Kadoka (off the Rez) and Little Wound in Kyle. The Kadoka school district had previously tutored students attending their school in Wanblee but the space they used no longer exists. They’ve offered to resume tutoring if a suitable place can be found which could be provided by the new building. Some kids may not need tutoring but do need a quiet place to study, something that’s hard to find in a small 3 bedroom home housing up to 20 people. Many students in the outlying areas may not have electricity for various reasons so they work by candlelight or if lucky by a solar lantern. Families Working Together has found computers for the center once it becomes a reality. They also want to have a soup kitchen so that any child who won’t be fed at night will be able to come and have a meal before heading home. There are still many issues to be worked out….how the center will be run, who’ll be in charge, ownership of the building, maintenance and operating costs, etc. so it’s not a done deal. Having rooms to teach sewing, cooking, and gardening, etc. and a place for community services would be wonderful as well. We’ll keep you posted as we see how this project unfolds. Families Working Together also plans to fix up a trailer and an older home, both in need of repair and in the future Jerome plans to add some beds to the storage trailer which will provide housing for volunteers from out of town, visiting the Rez and working on a project .
Crazy Horse school, according to Anne Fields from LFC, is advertising in the Lakota Times for many positions for next year. There are currently 260 students from K thru 12 attending. The middle/high school principal and several of the teachers are leaving as are some of the auxiliary staff, time will tell if all positions get filled. Many of the positions are filled by Teach for America, they come to the Rez with good intentions but working with kids from dysfunctional families, (a challenge off the Rez as well), lack of teaching supplies and living in an isolated area with nothing to do is too much for many to handle and they leave after the first year, some have even left in the middle of the school year.
There are gardening courses being held at the college through Cooperative Extension. Thirty-five people attended the last meeting and if they attend all meetings they will get their garden plot tilled, seeds to plant and help with any gardening issues. The lady teaching the gardening class also found funding to provide food for the Crazy Horse after school program. NAHA recently sent several pallets of garden seeds to Wanblee which were given out at the Easter party so there should be enough seeds for everyone that wants to grow a garden this summer. The land is dry and hard in Wanblee as there hasn’t been a lot of precipitation this year so tilling isn’t an easy job. Jerome tilled the community garden on his lot and said it was tough going, so he has to get some organic matter worked into the soil. I told him to get those chickens he wants and put them to work on loosening and fertilizing the soil, killing two birds with one stone as the chickens would produce eggs to sell locally. The chicken coop is built, water containers and incubators have been donated and the ranchers have offered some chickens to get them started. The High Horses will soon plant some of the cold weather veggies if they can get the soil amended. Horse manure takes 6 months to break down so that will have to wait until fall, I suggested growing some cover crops in the fall to till in the following spring for green manure.
Running Strong has tractors to till the land but they won’t come to Wanblee unless gas is provided so the Wanblee folks are happy to have this new resource available to help them. Speaking of gardening, Theresa’s daughter who serves lunch at Wolfe Creek school says they are serving salads at the school now in addition to their main meal and the kids love them and often come back for seconds. Here’s hoping the kids will see the connection between growing the lettuce (easy crop to grow) and the salad. One of the problems growers on the Rez deal with is the wild dogs and other animals who can tear up a garden as well as the hailstorms that seem to happen every year just as they get their crops growing.
Jerome and the Woodchucks have plenty of wood collected from local ranches but it still needs to be cut up for next winter. Many of the men have found work for now at seasonal, paying jobs but most will be unemployed once again when winter weather sets in so will be able to help when it really matters. Wood is still needed for heating and being given out as spring weather on the Rez can be unpredictable. The winter warmth program sponsored by Hearts of the Sacred Spirit( the non profit that SFK is under) ended for this year on March 31st, they helped people in many parts of the Rez with funds for propane and electric. Always needed for the Woodchucks and other workers are steel toed boots in men’s sizes 12-13 so if you see any on sale or at garage sales or have an extra pair sitting around, they would love them. Men go out to work in running shoes which offers no protection to those who work with heavy equipment or from the cold weather. Of course warm gloves, hats, and coats are always a need as theirs get worn out quickly (if they have them) from all the heavy work they do.
The sewing circle has had trouble lately getting together at the Kennedy Hall, there always seems to be some reason they can’t use the hall and the usual politics get in the way too. Ladies are sewing on projects at home using the donated machines, most are sewing pillows and blankets for their families. We’ll post a list of needs in the near future. Bingo has had the same issues of using the hall so is not being held now as often as they’d like. Originally Bingo was set up for the elders but many younger folks are showing up and demanding it be played at a faster pace. We’ll have to see if they can work out separate times for different age groups
During our recent conversation Anne told me about the local ambulance and firefighting departments in Wanblee, she also took pictures of buildings around town because she wanted you all to see what the community looks like and what if has to offer the people that live there. The ambulance service is really a barebones operation now, the tribe runs it but since they’re in debt you can imagine how a service like this suffers. Jerome and Theresa’s son-in-law John was instrumental in getting a volunteer fire department started in Wanblee, they didn’t want to get the tribe involved for obvious reasons. There are only three communities on the entire Rez with a fire truck capable of fighting grassland fires, Pine Ridge village, Oglala and Kyle which are all under the direction of the tribe. These fire trucks cannot fight structural fires, they can only put out the fire around the house and try to keep it from spreading to the house or structure. They depend on other areas off the Rez to come to their aid to put out house fires which can take up to an hour or more to arrive on the scene, by then many houses have already burned to the ground. There are about 20 men who have volunteered for Wanblee’s firefighting force and John, who has trained firefighters all over the state of SD, has succeeded in training the Wanblee crew to fight grassland and house fires with all trainees passing the state exam.
Currently Wanblee has an old 1970 fire truck with a pump and were recently given a newer truck with a flatbed which can carry a water pump and hose, they’re both used for grassland fires. The newer truck still needs about $600 worth of work to get it ready for duty. Since rainfall and snow were limited this winter, the area is drier than usual and they’re worried about grass fires this season with some already being reported. LFC has offered to receive money for the repairs if anyone is interested in helping. We already have a pledge of $100 from Janet’s mother who wants to donate the “cash back” bonus from her Discover card where it will do the most good. We agree with her choice and if you want to join her please send your tax deductible donation (no amount is too small!) to Lakota Friends Circle. Donations can be sent here to the 501c3 nonprofit organization, Lakota Friends Circle, thru paypal (email address- email@example.com) or by mailing to
Lakota Friends Circle
2415 Amberbrook Lane
Grayson, GA 30017
We will keep you up dated as donations come in. A fire to someone’s home, even a home that has many issues, is still a great loss to that person as they are now homeless. Ask your friends and family and coworkers if they can afford a few dollars to help the cause.
The firefighters can get a much newer truck from a department in West Virginia to fight house fires but they will need to go there to receive training and maintenance instructions. They’ve been holding some taco sales and other small fundraisers to earn money for the trip to WV. They will also have to find a place to keep the truck as it needs to be kept out of the elements. The director of LFC’s husband has a small foundation that donated the $750 needed to join the SD Professional Firefighters Association which will give them access to fire equipment for the men and the truck at reduced prices. Currently they have no respirator masks or protective clothing to fight fires and many come home with a bad cough from smoke inhalation which will lead to irreparable lung damage so they need to get funding to buy the fire suits that run close to $3000 for fighting house fires and $1300 dollars for grassland fires. Even if they only have a few suits for some to gear up, it will make the volunteer job safer. If you know of ways to help get equipment or clothing for a fire department please contact us here. Thank you!
During Anne’s recent Rez visit she was able to attend a meeting of the Wanblee Community Action team attended by representatives from various services in the area. One of the items they discussed was youth suicide and prevention. Unfortunately they’ve had two in the last month, a young mother with a two-year old child and a teen, breaking the three year suicide free record in their area. They mentioned that if a desperate youth has access to the web, he/she could get inspiration on how to commit suicide on the internet. While they know there’s value to the internet for a mentally stable person, it’s not a place where those with suicidal thoughts should tread. They’ve set up a local task force to find ways to locate the at risk youth and help them find mental health treatment and alternatives to suicide. They discussed providing positive outlets for their youth to give them hope in life such as spiritual counseling and fun activities such as movies, sports, crafts, homework help, etc. one of the reasons we ask for these items for Easter and Christmas. Life is tough and many kids live in homes where one caregiver or both may be addicted to alcohol or drugs, they may not receive the parental guidance and love kids need to grow up with good mental health so some kids look to gangs for their family, others may see suicide as their only way out.
Well that’s all the news for now, Theresa is upset that she’s behind on her thank you notes but wants you to know the gifts were appreciated and loved by the kids. They’ve had to deal with some health issues and are tired, they’re in their 60s so need some down time too, something I can relate to! For the next 2 months we’re making summer outfits for boys and girls so will share some patterns and ideas with you in the next blog. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids. Thank you for being such great volunteers as we celebrate National Volunteer Week!