It’s been a while since we posted an update on our assistance areas, Sacred Shawl Shelter and My Space Youth Center in Martin, Wanblee community and surrounding areas, Marty Indian School in Marty, SD, Bright Start program in Pine Ridge and Cheryl, an elementary teacher we’ve been helping in Porcupine, SD.
It’s still cold in Pine Ridge and they just received another 7- 8 inches of snow the other day. Everyone there is tired of winter and people are wondering when it will ever warm up. Sew for Kids and partner groups like Ravelry ” For the children of Pine Ridge Reservation have been sending blankets, hats, gloves, coats, sweaters, and boots. Shop the end of season sales now for boots, coats and warm clothing to send next winter. It’s been a long winter for most of the country, let’s hope winter loses it’s grip soon and spring takes over.
My Space Youth Center is open weekdays 4-10 pm and weekends 12-10 pm. Kids are given a snack and can use the computers, finish homework, read in the library area or play games. Girls participating in the “coming of age” program meet on Saturday with elders helping them make ceremonial dresses and teaching them to cook traditional food, make herb bags, etc., boys meet on Sunday mornings to learn traditional skills and prepare for the ceremonies in June when warmer weather prevails.
Sacred Shawl Shelter has been very busy since Christmas providing safe shelter and helping victims of domestic abuse heal from their traumas. They’re trying to finish two rooms over the garage so they have room for more clients. One of the rooms is large enough for a family and the other will be for single woman ( up to 6 in that room) . Currently any overflow ends up on the couches in the living room, not an ideal situation as that area is needed for socialization and eating meals. They need more bags as well as new underwear, bras, sweat or sport pants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, or other tops and flip flops new or gently used. Bags can be made or purchased and should be large enough to hold the above items, about the size of half a pillowcase. These filled bags are given to women at the clinic who’ve had to relinquish their clothing for evidence in case of rape.
Each month we send diapers for the shelter and CDC via online stores and a cash donation to Dakotamart, the local grocery in Martin, for perishable food for the shelter and youth center. Thanks to our Sew For Kids members and others that continue to support this important program. We’re always looking for more donors so we can reach out to more areas around the Rez so please join us if you can. Kimmie said she gave the midwife from the IHS Clinic in Martin several bags of baby items for her clients sent by SFK and other groups we work with. Kimmie continues to sing your praises for your ongoing support of the baby program. Your donations help the Bright Start nurse, the local midwives at the clinic, babies at the shelter and the CDC where women come for assistance toward the end of the month when formula and diapers have run out. The CDC also helps with other needs of moms and children if they have the donations. Kimmie requires mothers requesting help to attend education sessions on parenting and other topics which also gives her the opportunity to keep tabs on younger moms. Word has gotten around the Rez this help is available and she’s received many calls from desperate mothers. Thank you ladies for making all this possible!
Angela B, a SFK member, made a generous donation to the shelter for food to be purchased at the food bank in Rapid City to help stock the shelves at the shelter and youth center. Angela’s donation will cover food at both locations for 2 months and at a cost of 18 cents a pound they’ll receive 3000 pounds of food!! Thank You Angela! It has taken a while to arrange the food donation because Kimmie came down with pneumonia after a bout of the flu. She’s been so busy with clients, caring for her ill mother, writing grants, etc. we’re sure she just got run down. She’s exposed to many people coming to the shelter and youth center so invariably is going to pick up something from those not immunized against this year’s nasty flu. The Rez does a great job keeping kids and adults up to date on routine immunizations, but not all get the flu vaccine especially those without transportation or unable to travel on winter roads and go without.
Kimmie recently returned from a trip to San Diego where she was trying to get the federal grant she received a few years ago back on track and paying the shelter as it should. The grant monies were always arriving late putting a lot of stress on Kimmie who has employees salaries and utilities to pay, not to mention food, gas to transport clients to appointments and all the other expenses of running a shelter. Thankfully NOVA has given some money for programs that relieves a bit of the stress when the going gets tough. She has also received support from a non profit that works with the homeless and as a result of their assistance has helped 2 former clients from the shelter, one single woman and the other a mother with 5 children, the children were thrilled to have a new home. These ladies will receive rent assistance and other help for up to 2 years and were able to set up their new homes in style with all your generous donations. Hopefully this non profit will provide more assistance in the future so Kimmie can help more women when they leave the shelter, going back to their abusive homes isn’t an option.
Pine Ridge SD
Bright Start nurse, Mary M, has been communicating with us on a regular basis and we’ve all enjoyed hearing news about new births and babies receiving cuddly blankets and sweaters. She sees high risk women and currently has 32 clients, 4 delivering in the near future and 28 with new babies, including most recently a set of twins. She visits expectant mothers starting 3 months before delivery, weekly the first month after delivery, then twice a month until they reach the age of 3 years. SFK and our partner groups have sent many sleepers, sleep sacks, onesies, blankets, snowsuits, diapers, toiletries, books and many other things including clothing and toys for older siblings. Nurse Mary is absolutely thrilled with all the wonderful things she’s received for her clients and the young mothers say it’s like Christmas! We’re so thankful for each and every one of you and are in awe of your beautiful, handcrafted gifts and the love that went into making each one of them! Mary shares some of the items with WIC clients in the area so many babies are benefiting from your generosity. Mary can use more of what you’ve been sending, in addition we suggest activity bags, simple toys and books so moms can start working and bonding with their children.
Marty Indian School is having a great year. This is the second year for our room parent program which helps get supplies and books to classrooms. Teachers are starting to feel more comfortable with us helping as noted by their increased communication. Books were sent to the school for “Read Across America”, an annual event held across the country in March to celebrate and encourage reading. The school is in need of nutritious snacks for the kids as budget cuts have made them available only 3 days a week. The Feather Store will need spring and summer clothing, shoes, outside toys, books, art supplies, and other things to keep kids occupied and learning over their vacation. Our summer clothing project starts in April and runs through the end of May so get those patterns ready. Parents and grandparents also shop at the Feather Store, if their child earns a feather they receive one too. They shop for toiletries, clothing, shoes, socks, underwear and other needs for the family so those donations are always welcome. Paulita D continues teaching students how to make ribbon skirts and she’s personally making ribbon shirts and skirts for the graduating kindergarten class. We’re anxiously waiting to see the little ones dressed up in their regalia!
Work continues on the new community center in Wanblee but they need more funding for completion. Several groups from Colorado, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska are coming out to work on the building over the next few weeks. They’ve had trouble with freezing pipes this winter as the building isn’t entirely heated so they’re working on insulating all the pipes. The new cook stove has been set up and they plan to offer healthy cooking and budgeting classes soon. We’ll keep you posted of any needs for the kitchen area if requested. Jerome High Horse is heading to Hammond, Indiana at the end of the month to see if the Ford Motor Company can help with funding needed to complete the building. He’s also visiting a Hispanic church in Chicago to ask for help to update the park area in Wanblee so kids can have a safe place to play.
The community center will have a bunk area for visitors to stay when volunteering but is still under construction. They needed 3 handicap toilets to complete the bathroom which were purchased by a SFK member, thank you so much for your help! Volunteers built 30 bunk beds this winter and a mattress company provided 30 twin mattresses for those beds and some double and queen sizes too, distributed to needy families in the area. Sheets are always needed, gently used is fine, in twin, full and queen sizes.
There is room on the second floor for a small thrift store where people can come and shop, mostly for clothing but other items as well if donated. They recently bought clothing racks from a Sears store going out of business in Rapid City, hopefully they can find hangers as well. The store will only be open when a staff volunteer is present, they’ll have 2 bag sizes, a small plastic grocery bag and a larger kitchen size bag. They will ask shoppers for a small donation or volunteering their time at the center for their purchase so the building and it’s programs are sustainable, utilities and other bills must be paid and they need funds to purchase food. They would like to have a supply of baby bags stocked with things a newborn needs for the first 3-6 months. These wouldn’t be available in the thrift store and women would be screened before receiving one. Bright Start does not service the Wanblee area so this service is really needed.
Jerome is chairman for the Wanblee district and he recently met with chairmen from the other 8 districts to brainstorm about ways to help people pay their utility bills. Each household that applied for LIHEAP assistance received $250 for heating or utilities this season which doesn’t last very long when your area experiences brutal winter weather. The tribe is broke and the federal government is cutting funding to the LIHEAP program so they decided to ask the casino if they could help with people’s utility bills. Jerome was able to help 23 elders through help from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, in the past they’ve been able to help 67 homes with utilities but due to making some internal changes to the organization, they’re not fully operational. Jerome said they’ve been cutting wood whenever they can as there are 30 area homes who rely on it. He’s so thankful for the Woodchuck volunteers but has had to pay for oil, chains and gas for delivery from his own pocket so he could really use help if anyone would like to donate funds to keep the saws running. Jerome does ask recipients to contribute something towards their wood and delivery cost if they can as the program needs to be sustainable. Sew For Kids has provided warm clothing, boots and gloves for the Woodchucks, gas for delivery to homes in need and Jerome and Theresa always feed them a warm meal at the end of the day to thank them for helping their people. SFK and partner groups have provided many warm blankets, coats, snowsuits, hats, gloves and boots this year which has kept many families warm this winter. Thank you all for your generous hearts!!
Wanblee is planning an Easter party, including an egg hunt, for the kids on March 24. Some of our members have sent snacks, small toys, eggs, stuffed animals, etc. but SFK main focus is helping purchase food for the party. Our group raised $350 for the event which will serve the 300-400 people expected so a big thank you to those that made a donation to Lakota Friends Circle! Jerome and Theresa did their shopping in Rapid City the other day for goodies for Easter baskets and will purchase the food at the end of the week as they can’t store food for 350 people. On the menu is grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, fresh fruit, veggies, water and coffee. Theresa and volunteers are putting together Easter baskets with some candy and stuffed animals they received. One hundred Easter food baskets will be picked up from Running Strong, gas provided by Lakota Friends Circle, so families can have Easter dinner. Boxes will be given to the most needy in the community.
Recently Wanblee started a weekend backpack program with the help of Families Working Together. Lakota Friends Circle applied for a food grant from Walmart and received $1000 which will be used for that program. Each weekend they feed 188 kids in grades K-6 at Crazy Horse school in Wanblee. Their funds are very limited so they don’t have the resources to feed the kids in grades 7-12. They have relied on food donations that come from groups that live close to the Rez in Colorado and Nebraska, SFK and partner groups and the few cash donations received. Bob and Mary Epps and Jerome and Theresa also use their own funds to help pack the bags with food which costs about $100 a week. They’re trying to provide healthy food – fresh fruit and veggies, cheese and peanut butter crackers, sandwiches, juice, oatmeal packages, canned soup, fruit and chicken. It’s not perfect but kids who wouldn’t eat over the weekend are getting something to tide them over until breakfast at school on Monday. They have run into a few problems with bags coming back with some critters inside so need to find a solution but is hard to control for all the environments the bags visit. Maybe the school can educate families on the need to check bags before sending them back to be refilled. Thanks to everyone that sent in backpacks and food and/or money donations it helps relieve the burden for the Epps and High Horses. The non profit group Waste No Food brought a food delivery to Wanblee this past week for distribution to needy families. When more food becomes available Jerome will go to Colorado to pick it up and speak to the congregation of the pastor’s church that made this possible.
NAHA hasn’t been coming to Wanblee that often and while in Rapid City on business Jerome stopped in at the office to find out why. Their donations from Walmart and other big donors are way down so they haven’t had enough to make the trip, all they had to offer Jerome was soda which he turned down. NAHA helps families with diapers, household items, hygiene items and used clothing, occasionally new. Sew For Kids and other groups try to help with some of these needs through monthly donations to Lakota Friends Circle and in the boxes they send to Wanblee. If you would like to help with our bulk purchases online you can do so here. We get more bang for your buck shopping this way, cheaper prices and free shipping. Money in this fund also provides gas money for deliveries and for bulk purchases at Sam’s Club when Jerome and Theresa are in Rapid City. However you choose to help is greatly appreciated.
Our project this month was Books and we’re happy to report a new reading area was recently set up in the new community center by the visiting teacher whom Gina C replaced in the 5th grade class at Crazy Horse School. They will need many more books so please send your donations to Wanblee and include a note stating they’re for the new library or however you wish them used. SFK member and librarian, Laurie A, will be working on the new reading area when she visits the Rez this summer, hopefully construction will be further along then. Many of you sent books to Gina’s class, the kids have been busy reading and recently won a $30 gift certificate for their efforts. Thanks to all those donating books, school supplies, snacks, clothing, coats, and many other things for the kids in grade 5, Gina has sent us notes on the group and even a picture of a boy in his new coat.
Jerome mentioned the trailer donated for a family who lost their home in a fire 4 years ago is waiting to be rehabbed and work will begin once they can get through the snow to skirt and repair it. The weather this winter hasn’t allowed very much progress on projects they had hoped to finish.
The elder center is serving meals and when Jerome gets food in he makes sure to take some to the center to supplement the tribal allotment. Some of the elders are complaining about the food but he’s doing the best he can and trying to work with the new cook. Not much is happening at the center other than serving food but warmer weather should bring more people to the center for socializing and other activities. Jerome said they’re in need of wheelchairs in good condition and a few in the larger size so let us know if you know of any organizations that have them. Inmates from the SD prison system build ramps for elders and local volunteers in the community install them, turnaround time is about 4-6 weeks.
SFK and partner groups have been helping a 5th grade teacher at Wolfe Creek with her class and helping repair her home. Several people have been helping pay for repairs to a home in severe disrepair she had to move in to when her family was suddenly evicted from their project home. She takes care of 10 people, some are her grandchildren and some are her siblings who are not well. The repairs are nearly completed and the house is now in livable condition. Cheryl and her family are so grateful for your help, they couldn’t have done this without you!
Cheryl has received money from some of our members for a cash prize for a journal project for grades 5-8. Students will compete for the cash prize by writing an essay. Cheryl’s grandson delivers wood to families in need for the organization Re-Member and noticed many kids in need of warm clothing in some of the homes and standing out in the cold waiting for the school bus. Our groups got busy and sent her grandson plenty of hats, coats and mittens to give out to the children and we recently received a Thank You note for helping the families in his community. Again we are in awe of your caring and generosity to people in need, bless you!
Wow that was a long one! Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.