The Sacred Shawl Society’s women’s shelter in Martin has had quite a few admissions lately, the weather has been in the single digits so everyone has been staying inside which makes for more work and stress for everyone. It’s sad there’s a need for the shelter but fortunately there’s a safe place to go on the Reservation for abused women and their children. Shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, is in a fight every day to find money through grants and donations to keep the doors open. This is grant writing season and Kimmie’s been busy looking for funds to operate the shelter which includes employee salaries, food, etc. She’s also applying for grants so she and her staff can teach parenting skills to clients. Most of the women grew up in dysfunctional homes and never learned how to be a parent. Kimmie says without the help of Sew For Kids and For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation she couldn’t operate her programs effectively. When applying for various grants she states on her application that our groups have contributed at least $30,000 in in kind donations.
They’re currently busy planning summer activities for children at “My Space Youth Center” in Martin. Two popular activities, swimming and gardening, will be returning for sure but they also want to teach kids various skills including traditional crafts and take field trips to cultural sites to learn about Lakota history. They will get some funding from the District and Kimmie has applied for some youth grants as well. They will try to get most of the kids using the center enrolled in a summer food program so they only have to provide snacks and sandwiches. Kids are starving after swimming or playing all day which puts a strain on the food budget at the center during the summer.
Kimmie says it’s been extremely cold this winter and the District has spent $50,000 more this year to keep folks warm, especially the elderly. She has spent over $1800 to heat her own home this season and wonders how the unemployed on the Rez are managing with just the LIHEAP program to help them, which is on the chopping block under the current administration. All the warm clothing you’ve sent has been a blessing for so many and the blanket requests never end. Both are needed to keep warm in unheated homes where bundling up is a necessity.
The Allen Head Start students recently received blankets, books, stuffed animals and warm clothing and accessories thanks to the generosity of SFK and Children of PRR. Word got out about the wonderful blankets and goodies we sent to Martin Head Start and Allen asked Kimmie if she could get some help for their students. We asked, you responded and lots of kids are happy, thanks ladies!!
Jerome High Horse has spent a good part of this winter unloading, sorting and delivering food from trucks coming in from various organizations. He had hoped to make a trip to pick up food from “We Don’t Waste” in Colorado, unfortunately the weather hasn’t cooperated so far but he’s still planning a trip within the next 3 weeks. Lakota Friends Circle provides most of the gas money to pick up food from Rapid City, Colorado, etc. and deliver to people in Wanblee and the outlying areas, all made possible through your generous donations and some from the quarterly check they receive from Amazon Smile.
The Woodchucks have been busy cutting wood again, this is the first time since starting the program they’ve run out of wood before the heating season ended. The weather has been so cold this year they’ve had a hard time keeping up with the demand, some people don’t have money to buy propane so their wood stove is the only heat they have. All the blankets and warm clothing you’ve sent to Wanblee has been a lifesaver for these folks, thank you!
Sadly there is still no resolution to the conflict at the community center the High Horse’s built with the Epp’s under Families Working Together which is ironic considering “working together” is in the name of their group. So Jerome and Theresa have gone back to the Kennedy Hall for their activities and are currently paying the utilities. They’re trying to get ownership of the building moved to the Wanblee Community and under tribal jurisdiction in the hopes they will pay the utilities. The freezers we purchased and other items will be moved from the community center soon. There is a plan for a community Easter party and SFK may help with food.
The public health nurse in Wanblee we’re planning to help is still on family leave after a difficult delivery, we wish her and her baby a speedy recovery. We’ll let you know when she returns to work and post a list of needs.
Lakota Friends Circle, our “mother” organization is hoping to move 5 mobile homes from Pine Ridge to Wanblee this summer for 5 deserving families. The homes were given to Jerome High Horse for needy families in the Wanblee area and originally came from North Dakota where they were used for workers in the oil industry. They are fully furnished and in excellent condition but will have to be moved from Pine Ridge at a cost of $2000 each. We’re planning a fund raising event soon detailed in a future blog. Many thanks to those already helping with that need.
BRIGHT START PINE RIDGE, SD
Program director and nurse, Mary Mousseau, is very busy with her clients and in weekly contact with Carol reporting on her program and always thanking everyone for generously supporting the babies and mothers she serves across the Rez. She makes home visits to her clients for health checks, education, etc. and before our groups began helping would often come to homes empty handed. Now she has baby supplies, clothing, books, toys and even toiletries and small gifts for the mothers. Women are absolutely thrilled to have the proper clothing and supplies for their babies, books they can read to their children and toys for their kids they couldn’t otherwise afford. Thanks for helping these families and making them feel special!
MARTY INDIAN SCHOOL – MARTY, SD
Students have had quite a few late starts and missed several days of school this winter due to the winter weather. Most school districts would rather cancel classes than risk a bus break down or accident in frigid temps putting their precious cargo in harms way. Hopefully they won’t have too many days to make up at the end of the year.
Room parents from SFK continue to help their classes sending snacks, school and party supplies, etc. The Feather Store is a blessing as students and parents/grandparents can buy things they need for the cost of a few feathers earned by their children for attending school, finishing homework, displaying good sportsmanship, Dakota values, etc. Ramonia S. helped fill the shelves of the feather store with clothing by sending many huge boxes of donations with the help of her friends and family and her savvy shopping skills, thanks Ramonia!
Students celebrated Valentine’s Day in their classrooms by passing out Valentines, eating snacks and playing games. They had another celebration this past Monday for Dr. Seuss’s Read Across America and the second grade teacher (Carol’s class) was making red and white cupcakes for the party. His students read daily in the classroom and he says they plan to have a summer reading program, he’s also in charge of the Boys and Girls Club at the school. Lots of books have gone to individual classrooms and also to the Feather Store where kids can buy books to build their own home library.
GATHER OUR CHILDREN HOME – OGLALA, SD
Is one of the newest areas we serve and came to our attention after Kimmie Clausen recommended them and alerted us to their needs. They’ve had many babies and kids come through the home and could take many more if they had the staff. Founder and Director, Barb Dull Knife, is working with Kimmie to find grants (they need about $200,000) so she can hire more staff and care for more children in need of a safe home. Child Protection Services wants them to apply for a grant with them as well. The home operates with a no frills budget, much like Kimmie’s at Sacred Shawl.
Since Sew For Kids and For the Children of PRR began helping the foster home about a month ago, we’ve provided a full tank of propane, a new DVD player (thanks Margaret H), plug in phones (thanks woolydragon), a new upright freezer, toys, clothing, shoes, sheets, towels, blankets, books, DVD’s, toiletries, food, formula, diapers, school supplies, etc. WOW, the response from everyone for these kids has been simply amazing! Barbara was on her last few gallons of propane when we asked for your help and you responded with enough donations to fill the entire tank! You gave so generously that there was enough money left over to purchase a new freezer that had been on their wish list for some time and there may be enough left to buy the security cameras they need to protect kids and staff or at least pay for part of the cost. Thank You hardly seems adequate for all the kindness you’ve shown but knowing kids are warmer this winter, have adequate clothing and toys to play is really all we need.
ROSEBUD SIOUX TRIBE MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH PROGRAM – MISSION, SD
Is a program serving women with high risk pregnancies before and after delivery, more information can be found in our last blog here. Sandi Wilcox, program director, says donations are already arriving and they’re so happy we’re helping them get clothing and supplies for their program. Sandi called Janet S today to acknowledge the arrival of her recent shipment and during conversation said they were completely out of blankets due to the below zero weather they’ve had recently. She also said they serve 30 or more clients, not the 10-15 our previous blog reported, and can use clothing up to 3T and diapers in sizes 3 and 4 most needed. Thank you for the generous and quick response to this new area, please help when you can. All their needs are in the blog link above.
Well that concludes our updates for now. People on the Rez are staying inside and at home during this frigid weather that seems never ending unless they have to go to work, school or medical appointments. Spring should be just around the corner, Jerome High Horse saw his first robin the other day despite the thermometer saying -14, hope that robin made it!
If you don’t like to sew, craft or shop there are still other ways to help. Monetary donations (tax deductible) to Lakota Friends Circle help us provide diapers, toiletries, baby formula, food etc. to our programs, no donation is too small. If you’re a shopper with Amazon, shop through Amazon Smile where a percentage of your purchase (no cost to you) is donated to us by Amazon when you choose Lakota Friends Circle as your charitable organization. We receive a quarterly check from Amazon that we use for food, diapers, etc. for area programs. We’re so grateful for any help for the children and families we serve.
Thanks from Sew For Kids!