Volunteers from Youthworks completed their service projects in the Wanblee area and headed back home last month to prepare for the new school year. Local students also began their school year at Crazy Horse or other tribal school on the Rez or Kadoka, a public school off the Rez. Those attending school out of town have a long day and must get up early to catch the bus for their long commute which means they also arrive home much later than other kids. Some backpacks and school supplies were donated and handed out but more supplies will be needed as the year progresses.
Jerome High Horse experienced health problems for part of July and August so a lot of projects were put on hold. Things are slowly getting back to normal but his family is still dealing with the grief of losing 5 family members to a car accident this summer. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them during their time of healing.
Julia, director of the elder center and an elder herself, resigned after many years of service to the community and they’re busy searching for her replacement. Volunteer groups from Nebraska and Colorado came and helped rehab the elder center. The lighting, heating and fans were repaired and are now in working order, the floor was replaced, walls were repainted a lighter color and the building was lifted back into place where it had fallen. They added other special touches to make it more appealing and homey for the elders by adding curtains, a sofa, chairs and tables, some of which SFK members helped provide. Take a look at Families Working Together ‘s photos. Another group is planning to install a new entrance door and secondary door which will help keep the cold winds out when entering the building in winter. A new cook stove and other items are still needed and as soon as we have a current needs list and more information about the stove we’ll let you know.
Crary Brothers donated a small tractor which will be used for mowing grass to keep rattlesnakes away from homes and for tilling and other jobs in the future expanded garden.
The Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation ” makes hand knitted or crocheted hats, mittens, scarves for kids on the Rez and also helps with many other needs families have. They also love to help elders and have a project this year to assemble shoe box Christmas gifts for the 90-100 elders in the Wanblee community. They could still use help so if you’d like to help them reach their goal there’s more information here.
A generous donation of food containing bread, canned goods and fresh produce came from a group – Colorado Nation to Nation Ministries last month, food boxes were made up by Jerome and his crew for all the elders in the community and for some other families in need and delivered with the help of funds for gas from Lakota Friends Circle to those who could not get to the community site. Lakota Friends Circle provided gas money for Jerome again this week to pick up another load of food from Running Strong in Manderson which was distributed to families in Wanblee and the surrounding areas. As winter approaches food becomes a critical need for families living in homes that are substandard and which may not be heated for part of the winter due to finances. More calories are required to maintain body temperature in winter and those without adequate food have an elevated risk of dying from hypothermia.
Work on the Wanblee community center continues but they can not finish the building as the estimate to hook up the sewer and water is around $6,000. Jerome is currently looking for help with labor and materials for the project. Here are some pictures of recent the building from the Families Working Together site. Hopefully we’ll have more news in the next blog on their progress.
Kids are back to school in Martin or at other tribal or public schools in the area. All the backpacks and school supplies that came in were distributed to the kids but supplies will need replacing as they’re used up. Kimmie is always busy checking with kids in the community to see if they have what they need for school. After school kids are hungry and many head to the youth center to have a snack, play, read or finish homework. Your monthly donations to our fund at Lakota Friends Circle provides these snacks as well as milk, eggs, bread, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables and other food items Kimmie can’t get from the food bank in Rapid City. Your generosity is making a difference!
Lots of books are being donated to the youth center’s library and the kids will be thrilled with all the choices they’ll have for reading material. The center has a youth director on duty to oversee the kids and local volunteers from the community also help out. Kimmie says the kids that come from troubled homes are always there and she keeps a close eye on them and makes sure they have adequate clothing, school supplies, toiletries, blankets, etc. She wants you all to know that helping these kids or the families at the shelter wouldn’t happen without the help of your generous donations. Many on the Rez know of the good work Kimmie does and have asked for her help with their needs.
The garden project was a great success and they’re harvesting the fruits of their labor. The biggest hurdle now is to find recipes to make dishes using their vegetables that are appealing to the kids. Most kids have never eaten zucchini or many other garden veggies so it will take time to change their food habits. Janet, co-administrator at SFK, dropped off donations at the shelter this summer on her way to work at Re-Member and said she’d never seen such a wonderful garden design. She said her pictures didn’t do it justice, you just had to be there. Recently one of the kids said to “Auntie Kim” that he just loved the way she was making the youth center and the garden so nice for them. Kimmie then received a big hug from this sweet boy which we imagine melted her heart.
This weekend the youth center will be holding a “harvesting party” and cookout where they’ll pick and cook some of the veggies they’ve grown this summer and get the garden ready for winter. The kids are getting excited about the party and are always eager to help Kimmie with chores whenever asked.
Kimmie is also looking into setting up a bowling group for the kids at the local Martin bowling alley. She’s thinking of setting up 4 groups with 4-5 kids in each to start with plans for more if it works out. They’re having a Halloween party in October so lots of fun activities coming up for the kids. Kimmie will soon start planning for Christmas and we’ll let you know asap how SFK can help. She said many of the things you’ve sent have already been put aside for gifts.
Women are still coming to the CDC at the end of the month in need of formula and diapers for their babies. SFK is supplying some of these needs every month but we don’t have enough donations to keep up with all their needs. A small can of powdered formula and some disposable diapers are given to each client if they have them. They’re also given cloth diapers and covers and shown how to use and care for them. So many of the moms are young so Kimmie tries to review their budgets with them to see how they can stretch their money. A record is kept for each client to keep track of their visits and supplies received. They do receive some diapers from the NAHA or Christian Relief trucks that come in, but there’s no regular delivery times and the shipments never have sizes 3-5 that are most needed. Toiletries for all ages and sanitary items for women continue to be high needs both at the shelter and those coming to the CDC office looking for help. If you would like to help SFK supply food, diapers, formula, toiletries and other critical needs please make a donation to our fund at Lakota Friends Circle as a one time or recurring donation, no amount is too small, $5 can really help. Those preferring to mail their donations can send here to the Sacred Shawl. Thank you for your generosity however you choose to help!
Nurses from Bright Start and advocates from the rape crisis center came and picked up their monthly bags for women and babies in need. Kimmie is getting a current list of needs from them and we’ll be posting that information soon. In the meantime be on the lookout for elastic waist pants such as sweats, underwear, socks, shoes, hotel size toiletries, etc. for women and sleepers, receiving blankets, warm buntings, etc. for babies and tote bags for both.
Kimmie says she’s back to trying to get money to run the shelter from the federal grant she received to operate the shelter for 3 years. Because tribal staff in Pine Ridge keeps changing, she’s always behind receiving the money as new people learn the job. She’s sincerely told me several times that she doesn’t know how she could’ve kept the shelter open without the help of SFK, the Ravelry group and a few others. She is so grateful to each and every one of you! Most of her budget is used for employee salaries, food and transportation costs to drive women to medical and legal appointments in Pine Ridge and Rapid City which leaves nothing for clothing or other client needs.
Adding to the frustration is she’s had so many clients with children at the shelter lately. Thirteen kids and 6 moms with issues can be overwhelming at times in a small shelter but she doesn’t have anywhere else to send them and she hates to turn anyone away that needs help. She said she couldn’t deal with the guilt if something happened to them. They’re still working on a response team to share the work load, hopefully that happens soon. Kimmie’s hoping the $20,000 grant she received will come in soon so they can finish the rooms above the garage and replace some of the worn furniture. They will keep the old furniture if still usable to give to clients leaving the shelter for a new house or apartment. .
Kimmie got a grant from NOVA and from a Native American organization to continue the coming of age ceremonies for girls and boys. She has opened up the ceremony to any girls on the Rez who want to participate with one stipulation, they must attend the majority of the meetings before the 4 day event so they’re ready to take that step when the day arrives. They’re making dresses and are also considering ribbon skirts after hearing about the skirt project at Marty Indian School. Among Janet’s donations this summer were 3 sewing machines that will be used for the project and the new grant will help pay for some of the sewing supplies. Thank you Janet.
Malverne Bible Church recently donated 140 pairs of kids pajamas in sizes 5-7, 50 for boys and 90 for girls. They were given a donation of clothing from a generous member of their congregation who owns an Import/Export company which had many unclaimed items. They were selling those items to make money for Helping Hands of Malverne for their Operation Christmas Child Project. Kathy Carpino , the secretary and wife of Pastor Thomas Carpino who has been at the church for 23 years , found our site and noticed that we needed PJs and could not possibly sell all the items. She contacted Anne Fields , Director at Lakota Friends Circle and asked if we would like them. Of course we did and knew Kimmie Clausen , director of the Sacred Shawl would too. Kimmie kept some for the shelter but also added a pair to the bags she made up from your donations for the kids back to school bags. Lots of children don’t have pajamas and sleep in their street clothes. Many thanks to the church group for their generous contribution!
Halfknits, a knit and crochet group from Dallas, have finished their items for the Rez this year and a friend of the group is going to Mt. Rushmore soon and has offered to deliver the afghans, baby items and shawls for the elders to Kimmie. A big thanks to this wonderful group for all their work this year and in all the previous years, they’ve been providing warm blankets to the Rez since 2004!
Speaking of warm items, September is here and we’ll be starting our Winter Warmth Projects soon for our 3 donation areas, more information in a new blog shortly. Thanks from Sew For Kids for all the wonderful items that have come in over the past 2 month for our Back to School drive. You do make a difference to the kids and families we help. If you are interested in joining our working groups , you can find us on facebook and yahoo.
Seeing all of the devastation going on now in Texas and soon Florida, I think how hard it is for those families and all the time and money it will take for them to recover and return to some kind of normalcy. They need so many of the things our Rez families are always in need of so please think of donating something to them as well. Tragedy can happen to any of us and we depend on the good hearts of people in our communities to help. Thank you!