Christmas Party Time

Elves from SFK and other groups we partner with have been busy putting the finishing touches on their handmade gifts, or been out shopping looking for just the right thing to send to the kids in Wanblee, Martin and Marty Indian School.  The doll project at SFK, led by member Penny N, is in full swing with several boxes of dolls already making their way to the Rez.  Members are sharing pictures of the doll clothes they’ve made for Barbie’s, eighteen inch, cabbage patch and many other kinds of dolls they’re sending.  It looks like there’s going to be a lot of happy girls this holiday season!  We always have a lot of fun this time of year on our Facebook group and thank Penny for starting the doll project three years ago.  You’re welcome to join our working group here.

Wanblee will hold their annual Parade of Lights December 16.  They’ll be serving cookies, hot chocolate and cider and each child  will receive a goodie bag containing fruit and candy.  A group from Minnesota, affiliated with YouthWorks, is coming to help decorate trucks and cars and of course Santa’s sleigh for the parade.  Some members of the group will dress as elves and hand out gifts to children aged infant to 14 years.   Hopefully they’ll be using the new Community Hall but if that’s not possible gifts will be given out  after the parade.  They also plan to go out in the community and distribute gifts to those children not attending the party.

For those of you still working on gifts Jerome asked if possible to wrap and label them with age and gender.  They have a busy December and will be in Texas the first week so anything you can wrap will save them time.  They do have local volunteers to help wrap gifts if needed.  Jerome couldn’t give us a definite number of kids attending since there are so many from outside the Wanblee area coming.  There is so much need in the area for anything warm so gifts such as hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves are good to send for all ages but they do like to give the younger kids a small toy.  Sending gifts for ages 10-14 usable by either gender are especially desirable.   Plan to have your boxes arrive at least a week before the party, blankets and coats and other things for winter can be sent anytime, the sooner the better as Jerome and Theresa are receiving requests daily.

Gift Suggestions

  • Dolls, stuffed animals, books, craft kits and supplies
  • Art supplies such as crayons, drawing pads, coloring books, colored pencils, crayons, etc.
  • Play-dough, games, and puzzles
  • Sports balls such as basketballs, soccer balls, etc.
  • Cars and trucks, action figures, spinners
  • Hair supplies, nail polish, deodorant and other toiletries, make up, lotion, perfume, purses, etc.
  • Socks and underwear, baseball caps
  • Hats, scarves, gloves and mittens
  • Baby and toddler toys
  • Pillow with pillowcase, blankets

The elders will have a separate party at the Elder Center and receive a shoe box filled with goodies provided by the Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”.   They will receive other gifts such as afghans and shawls crafted by many of the groups we work with.  Thanks to everyone for making Christmas special for the elders in Wanblee!

Martin will have a party sometime Christmas week at the CAP office with Kimmie dressing as Mrs. Claus and handing out gifts to all who attend.  Community groups will be covering the cost of the dinner.  Kimmie wants to extend a huge thanks to those of you sending gifts and making Christmas special for people in the community.  She goes through our donations throughout the year and puts items back for the holiday season.  She does receive a small stipend to buy gifts for the kids at the youth center and pays special attention to those she knows will get nothing at home Christmas day.  It’s not about kids getting expensive gifts but just so they get something to make them feel special and not forgotten.  The older kids will receive hats, scarves, mittens, etc. for gifts.  Ship your packages so they arrive in Martin 10 days before Christmas so they have time to organize and wrap.  The gift list above will work for the Martin area as well but Kimmie did mention kids love the spinners that are so popular now.  The girls who are participating in the Isnati Awicalowanpi ceremony will help with gift wrapping.

Marty Indian school  usually has a Christmas program and room parents will provide a gift for each child in their class or a collective gift for the classroom.   They do need gift items for the Christmas Feather Store so kids can use feathers they’ve earned to “buy” gifts for their family and themselves too.  Anything on the above list can be sent and small items suitable for parents such as toiletries, towels, washcloths, etc.  One of the kid’s favorite gifts from last year was gift bags filled with small toys and activities.  Christmas vacation starts on December 18 so things for the Feather Store should arrive a week before then so they can stock the store.  The school has a popcorn machine but no supplies, you can help them provide a healthy snack for the kids by sending small paper lunch bags, popcorn, and corn oil.

Shipping addresses for all three areas can be found here.

Sew For Kids wants to send our gratitude and a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone that’s helped respond to the many needs on the Rez throughout the year.  A simple thank you hardly seems adequate for the generosity you’ve shown to the kids, their families and communities.  Whenever we post a need members of SFK and our partner groups are out filling those needs the next day!  You all are simply amazing!  We hear so many nice compliments about the quality of your donations and stories about how something you’ve sent has made a difference to a very grateful recipient.  We may have started the group but all of you ARE the group, we wouldn’t exist without you.   We’ll have a year end blog next month with a summary of accomplishments, party pictures and pictures of your donations (please send).     Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wanblee Revisited Part 2

The Elder Center did get a new director but unfortunately it wasn’t Mr. Red Elk as we reported in a previous blog.  The tribe hired someone else because Mr. Red Elk didn’t get his resume, background check and drug test done in time so they hired Miss Rogers.  This is her first time holding a cook’s job so has some things to learn but Jerome and Theresa are going to help her through the learning phase, especially since Jerome is the Community Chair in Wanblee.   Part of Jerome’s duties is to make sure funds are being properly used so he’s meeting some resistance.  The tribe has tightened up restrictions too and now all program funding is going through Pine Ridge.  Miss Rogers is currently traveling to Pine Ridge to buy supplies for the center,  Jerome is trying to bring that back to Wanblee but must show they have a working system in place so money isn’t wasted which happened with the previous Community Chair.  He’s also challenging the way management of the Kennedy Hall is being handled, currently one person has control and has a 5 year contract with the tribe.  Jerome feels this building belongs to the community and the fees people pay for it’s use should go back to the community to pay utilities, maintain the building, make repairs, etc. and not into the pocket of the manager.  Sounds like Jerome will be busy with his new position and has a few things to clean up but accountability is his goal!

The elder food program receives $3400 quarterly from a tribal food program.  From this they must pay for propane for the cook stove and heating, electric and phone bills, and cable TV service which adds up to $700 a month (a  lesser amount in  the summer) or $2100 each quarter.  That leaves a monthly budget of $433 to buy food items, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and food containers and gas for the van for home deliveries.  A recent survey shows they served 750 meals over a three week period.  There are 95 elders in Wanblee and the surrounding areas and they’re coming to the center more often and staying longer to enjoy the newly improved building so they need more food.  Jerome and Theresa give them food whenever they receive donations to supplement the food they get from the program as most of it is canned and not very appetizing.  They recently gave the center some of the wild game several local hunters gave Jerome to share with the community.

The new  5 burner stove has been purchased with funds from our generous donors. Jerome and his men will install it and once in place, we will share the photos. All items sent for the elders will be put to good use in the center or sent home with elders and are appreciated. Thank you all.  Dishes and cutlery at times go missing so Jerome wants a system to lock up items when they are not in use. Need is great on the Rez so items left out are a temptation for those who lack them.

There are currently no activities for the elders such as bingo but they do want to start a program for them . They had bingo at the center in the past but many of the younger locals came and disrupted the elders .  SFK member, Laurie A, will be going to Wanblee to build a library at the center and is currently collecting books in her area to take with her.  If you have books or magazines to donate for the elders please send them to Jerome.  Laurie will also set up a library at the new community center so books for kids through adults are certainly needed and can also be sent to Jerome. Sewing machines and material, knitting /crocheting tools and yarn will be needed in the future once programs can be established.  Elders are also in need of adult incontinence products such as Depends in size XL for men and women.  Lakota Friends Circle just purchased some of these using funds from a donor.

The Ravelry group “For the Children of PRR” are providing filled shoe boxes as gifts for the elders for Christmas  which  will be given out at the elder Christmas party, date is still undecided.  Some of you sent wonderful shawls and lapghans and they’ll be given out as well.  There will be a Christmas celebration for the kids on December 17 but is all the information we have for now.

The community did have a Halloween party with funding provided by  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit.  They plan to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to the community and provide food boxes for those that need them.  Running Strong will provide 110 boxes to Wanblee for distribution, they usually get more than 200 but only 4 of the 9 districts turned in the required paperwork.  That situation has been addressed and now each district will have to find a trailer to transport boxes back to their communities as a pick up truck can’t hold 100 food boxes.  So Jerome and Theresa are looking for food for people that won’t be getting a box this year. I guess it’s back to the food bank.

Well that wraps up all the latest news in Wanblee. Rarely have we had to do a “two parter” !  We will have another blog in a couple of days with Christmas gift needs in all three areas we serve.  Until then continue dressing dollies, sewing, crafting and shopping!  Some of the blankets and other needs we listed can certainly be used as Christmas gifts.  If you can only donate one gift it’s better to give the gift of warmth.

Items can be sent here. Many thanks to our AWESOME team!

 

Wanblee Revisited Part 1

 

This past year we haven’t been in regular communication with Jerome and Theresa due to the loss of 5 of their family members in a tragic car accident, several illnesses, and all the construction going on at the new community and elder centers.  They’re still grieving the loss of their grandchildren and great grandchildren, very evident in a recent phone conversation, but they both know they must go on and help others in the community, especially children.  We made a decision after the accident to give them time with their family and to not complicate their lives by sending a lot of boxes they would have to process.  The down side of that decision is the community is now in dire need of blankets, coats, warm clothing, and shoes (kids are still wearing flip flops!) and they need our help!  Warning, this is a lengthy blog.

Both Jerome and Theresa have lived on the Rez off and on for over 60 years and upon retirement they knew their calling was to move back permanently and do what they could to help their community.  Life is tough on the Rez for everyone but children tend to suffer the most.  So many live in severe poverty without proper food and clothing and some may live in homes where someone is abusing alcohol or drugs which puts them at greater risk of physical abuse and neglect.  Their young minds can’t imagine life ever getting any better so many take extreme measures to escape, girls may get pregnant, some kids may run away from home or start abusing substances and others may make the ultimate escape and commit suicide.  Jerome and Theresa want to identify and help kids who are living in stressful situations by giving them basic needs but also want to show them that someone does care about them and most importantly give them the hope that things will get better and their lives do matter.  They also want to help the elder community as some are raising their grandchildren and they’ve spent their lives doing without even the most basic needs.

Over the past year or so there have been many organizations working with the High Horse’s so we wanted to know where SFK and other groups we partner with fit in and what our role is in their community.   Jerome and Theresa both said that SFK, Lakota Friends Circle, Ravelry group “For the Children of PRR“, Yahoo group ‘Pine Ridge Elders“, and charity knitting group, “Halfknits” are the backbone of their community support and they NEED us, essentially our groups are their lifeline of support.  They need us to help them with blankets, warm clothing, hats, gloves, scarves, shoes and boots for the cold weather which has already arrived.  They would also like our help with their  Christmas and Easter parties which draw the largest crowds.  They have smaller parties on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving but those events are mainly to get people together as a community to share a meal.  These gatherings gives kids  the chance to not only eat good food and have fun with friends but also to bond with adults and elders from the community that care about them.  For elders it’s a great time to get out, meet friends and neighbors, fill their stomachs and catch up on the local gossip!

Bob and Mary Epps, founders of the group “Families Working Together“, are building the community center in Wanblee and have recently sold their home in Wisconsin and moved to the area to continue their work with the Rez.  Bob is proficient in construction and Mary is a nurse so they bring some much needed skills to share with the community.  They have to do a lot of fundraising in order to raise the $100,000 needed to complete all the work at the center.  Their group’s main focus is and will be home repair and construction projects for families in the Wanblee area.

Wanblee receives food from Running Strong three times a year at major holidays and if they get school supplies, shoes or garden seeds they call Jerome for a pick  up.  Young people from Youthworks volunteer during the summer months and mainly paint houses, mow grass and cut brush to keep rattlesnakes and wildfires at bay.   Some of these volunteers have become friends with Jerome and will come back and work on projects as they did this summer when they worked on walls in the new community center.  Also in the summer they will get several church groups that come and bring activities for the kids to do or teach women to sew or craft during their week long visit.  Two groups from Colorado and Nebraska came this summer and made several repairs to the elder center, another group will soon replace the entrance doors.  There have been a few groups that brought food donations but not consistently, they’re hoping a pastor from Colorado will be bringing some on a more regular basis, weather permitting.  Recently a hunting group brought venison and pheasants and a local farmer gave half a hog to share with the community.  They stored the bounty in the freezers we purchased last spring but they’ve received so many calls from hungry people in Wanblee, Allen, Kyle and other communities they’ve nearly used everything.

If the High Horses receive a lot of calls for food and the cupboard is bare the accountant and his wife from Families Working Together will provide up to $200 for a trip to the food bank in Rapid City where they can purchase food for 18 cents a pound with Jerome and Theresa adding from their own pocket if they can.  Lakota Friends Circle provides funds for gas to pick up the food in Rapid City and  deliver to those in outlying areas that can’t come to town.  Recently the SD food bank’s main office in Pierre checked up on the High Horse’s to see if the food they received was being properly used and they passed with flying colors!  They were so impressed they gave them an additional refrigerator/freezer and they’ve had other groups donating some used ones as well.  The intention is for Wanblee to become a food resource on the Rez as most people there live in a food desert.   They will have to complete the community building before the Pierre office will consider them as a donor site.  If you would like to help finish the community center you can make a donation to Families Working Together here.  They plan to have more gardens and Jerome hopes either Running Strong or the USDA might help with funding for a greenhouse so fresh vegetables can be grown year round and maybe even employ a few people.  Another reason to finish the community center is to provide space for after school programs and educational classes in cooking, sewing, etc., a soup kitchen for those needing a hot meal, and a place to hold community parties and activities. They’re trying to solve the problem of heating just the main community room without the rest of the building as they can’t afford to heat everything and want to start helping people right away.

Jerome was given a small tractor this summer that he hopes to use for working up garden plots if he can find a reasonably priced plow at a farm auction.  He’s currently using the tractor to cut dry grass around homes as they don’t want a repeat of the fires that swept the Wanblee area this summer.   The biggest need right now is purchasing a shed ($1900) to keep the tractor in winter.  The tractor is great for Jerome as his knees are shot from years of manual labor, he’ll need to have a left knee replacement after the holidays to be ready for spring.  He’s already had a right knee and shoulder replacement.  If you or your group can help with this need please contact me here.  Thanks!

The night we talked to Jerome and Theresa it was 23 degrees in Wanblee and families have been calling for the past few weeks asking for warm blankets, coats, hats and mittens, people are cold!  Houses aren’t kept very warm because it’s the only way to conserve their propane supply to last through the winter.  The LIHEAP program runs from October through April but we’re not sure if any funds have been distributed and it’s a first-come based program.  Jerome and the Woodchucks have been busy cutting wood in creek beds and delivering to families in need that have a wood stove.  They are running a little behind schedule as Jerome’s had many things that needed his attention lately, but a group of men from Colorado are going to cut and deliver wood for the community which will help them get back on track.  Hopefully the area will get some help from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit’s propane program but they’re undergoing a few changes in their organization so it’s not a sure thing.

Recently a veteran built and delivered 10 bunk beds complete with mattress, sheets and a light blanket to some lucky kids that were sleeping on the floor covering themselves with a jacket or any clothing they could find to keep warm.  Word got out when kids told their friends what they had gotten and of course they wanted one too so he’s building 10 more and is going to try and recruit some help from his community.  Blankets, pillows and pillowcases are needed for the beds, which number 40 so far.  We can assure you more than one person will be sleeping in each bunk so they can use up to queen size blankets.   Wanblee is the first area we made pillowcases for, remember Theresa’s pillow and PJ parties?  They were a huge hit with the kids and they loved all the colorful kid prints we used.   Get the word out to your friends and family, crafting groups, churches and even your place of employment to see if anyone would like to keep a child warm this winter by providing a cozy blanket or sleeping bag.

Jerome is looking into a project that gives goods to charities rescued from college dumpsters that students have thrown out when leaving school.  We’ve both dived into a dumpster on more than once occasion to retrieve perfectly good clothing and bedding!  Re-Member, an organization on the Rez that builds bunk beds and where Janet spent a week this past summer, is another source Jerome can contact for beds.  They come complete with a mattress and all the bedding and a stuffed toy and book if they have them. Those families still sleeping on the floor need bedding and warm blankets too.   Jerome does try to find mattresses for people but NAHA is the usual source and they haven’t been to Wanblee for the last 6 months.  Their donations are down as goods usually donated to them are instead being given to charities helping hurricane victims.   Jerome and his young men have made bed frames out of pallets that come off the trucks but even if they get the kids off the floor, they still need a mattress to give them a good night’s sleep. We know kids don’t often get enough sleep and is why Marty Indian School has opened a sleep room so kids who just aren’t “with it” in the morning can get a nap and be more alert for learning.

Wanblee Area NeedsCritical in Red

  • Warm clothing – long sleeve shirts, pants, long underwear, leggings, hoodies, sweats, PJ’s, and anything warm.  Highest need school age children 6 to 16/18 and small adult.
  • Footwear – Shoes, boots, heavy socks, slippers-knit, crochet or purchased.  Especially for school age children youth 5 to adult 10
  • Outerwear – Winter coats, hoodies, hats, scarves, cowls, mittens, gloves, fingerless mitts.  Highest need school age children.
  • Bedding – Warm quilts, blankets, and afghans, pillows and pillowcases, sheets twin, full and queen sizes.
  • School Supplies – Paper, pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, etc.
  • Toys, etc. – Simple toys without batteries, books, crafts, sports equipment, stuffed animals, etc. for ages infant to teen

Baby/Toddler Needs

  • Clothing – Sleepers, sleep sacks, sweaters, buntings and coats, warm hats and mittens, toddler warm pants and long shirts
  • Underwear and Diapers – Toddler size underwear, disposable diapers sizes 3-5.  Smaller ones come from WIC and NAHA.
  • Blankets – Quilts, blankets, afghans, receiving blankets.

 

We gave Theresa Kimmie’s contact information at the CDC office in Martin for help with any immediate baby needs and encouraged her to call Bright Start to set up home visits with their nurses.  We would like to place a monthly diaper order for Wanblee but we’ll need to find more donors willing to give a small amount each month to Lakota Friends Circle   to help purchase them.  Our current monthly fund of $170 is pretty much depleted every month as we’re helping Kimmie buy perishable food ($100) from the local grocery for the shelter and youth center and formula/diapers ($50-60) which doesn’t leave a lot to help Wanblee.

We’re so grateful for each and every donor regardless of how they help the Rez!  There are many generous people helping behind the scenes, they recently donated funds to get water access into a home before winter, another helps Jerome with phone and printer costs, others have generously donated supplies to keep Jerome’s chain saws running and still others donated to purchase a new stove for the elder center.  YOU ROCK!

Please send items to the High Horses here. Thanks from Sew For Kids

 

 

The Hub

Kimmie Clausen, Director of the Sacred Shawl Shelter, CDC and the My Space Youth Center in Martin is a hard person to pin down but we did finally manage to get a phone call in and get caught up on the latest Martin news.  Kimmie has been so busy she’ll end up losing about 200 hours of vacation time which expires at the end of the year.  As it is she doesn’t have time to do all the work that needs to be finished before year’s end so a vacation just isn’t in the cards for her.  We know she’s way overdue for a vacation and hope she can take some time off soon to unwind and re-energize.

Kimmie says they’ve become known as “The Hub” across the Rez for the work they do at the shelter and in the community and for the clothing and other goods they have to give out to those in need.  She says the amazing generosity from Sew For Kids, Ravelry group “For The Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”, Yahoo Group “Pine Ridge Elders,” and the knit/crochet group “Halfknits” have really enabled them to reach out and help people across the Rez.  She continues to sing your praises and still wonders how she was lucky enough to be chosen as one of our donation sites.  She says without our donations she couldn’t possibly help all the people that come asking for assistance.  The shelter’s grant money only covers food, utilities, rent, transportation costs and employee salaries and leaves nothing to purchase goods for the day to day needs of all the programs she runs.

Yesterday Child Protective Services (foster care on the Rez) and an elder organization in Oglala came looking for things they needed for the kids and elders as their cupboards were bare.  Because of your continuing support of the Martin area Kimmie was able to help both of these organizations.  They asked if they could please come back again and Kimmie said they were welcome to but she couldn’t guarantee they would have anything extra to give.  She also met with the Bright Start nurses (they service all the Rez) who came to fill up their baby bags with donations sent from all of you.  I’m hoping to speak with nurse Mary soon and ask if we’re meeting their needs and if not what else we can do to help the babies.  Thanks to those members that have made or are making cloth diapers and covers and to those sending monthly donations to Lakota Friends Circle for the purchase of disposable diapers, formula, and other needs.

We want to thank the members of Ravelry group, “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation,” for making baby blankets and sending books and stuffed animals for comfort items.  Thanks to everyone that has sent small toys, books, etc. for the nurses to give out to older children when they make home visits to new babies, it makes them feel included and they share a little of the attention being shown to their new baby brother or sister.  More thanks go to SFK member, Kathy Aceino Carpino and her church for their generous donation of warm clothing and socks for babies and Pjs for the older kids. One of their church members is a retired airline attendant and got a special shipping rate for them from her company which helped a lot with their expenses.  We love  hearing about churches and other groups working together to help those in need!  Kathy joins our talented team of SFK seamstresses that make beautiful (and very popular) dresses for girls on the Rez.  Kathy also sends leggings and a shirt with her dresses for a complete outfit  the girls can wear throughout the year.

It seems the Rez is always in need of bags and there are never enough to go around for all the programs that use them.  They need larger laundry size bags for kids in foster care to hold their clothing and other belongings as they move to new homes.  Laundry size bags are packed with clothing and toiletries and taken to the clinic for rape victims that must submit their clothing to the crime office.  Tote bags and duffel bags are used at the shelter to hold clients new clothing, etc. they received while at the shelter.  Most women and children coming to the shelter have left home in a hurry with just the clothes on their backs.  Diaper bags are always needed for the Bright Start program, the ob-gyn nurses at the health clinic and women seeking help for their babies at the CDC office.

Another need we’ve recently started to help with is getting sanitary kits into the hands of girls so they don’t have to miss school during their monthly cycle because they can’t afford sanitary items.  Thanks to those of you contributing to this need at Marty School, the youth center and women’s shelter.  This is an ongoing need for teens and women so your donations of sanitary products are always welcome at those locations.

The Harvest party at the youth center was held last month and enjoyed by all the kids.  Kimmie says the garden fed many kids at the center this summer and was so successful they plan on doubling the size next year.  The kids had fun learning about, growing and eating veggies.    They’ll be having a Halloween party in a few days so thanks to those that sent costumes and other goodies!  We’re not sure what happens in Martin at Thanksgiving but the tribe in the past has tried to get turkeys to each family.

It’s colder on the Rez now and Kimmie and her staff have noticed a lot of kids walking by the CDC office without coats or hoodies.  They’ve been stopping and asking the kids where their coats are and most say they don’t have one.  They’ve been able to outfit most of the kids they’ve talked to with coats, hats and mittens but now their supply has dwindled to 5 coats and it isn’t even winter yet!  They were lucky to receive a large donation of coats from a lady in Colorado but those have already been given out so the kids in Martin really need our help.  Coats in all sizes are needed as well as hats, mittens and scarves, boots, hoodies and anything else that may keep a child warm.  Check your closets, tell your family and friends to check theirs, visit resale shops, start a coat collection at your church.  Kimmie also needs sweat/jogging pants for kids in all sizes but especially sizes 10-18/20 or small men’s for boys at the shelter.  Males over the age of 14 aren’t allowed in the shelter so must find a relative or friend to live with while their mother is there.

A Christmas party sponsored by the CDC and other businesses in the community will be held at the CAP office sometime in December.  Kimmie will play Mrs. Claus and hand out age and gender appropriate gifts to each child.  She’s been saving things from our donations for gifts throughout the year but will need more to make sure everyone in attendance gets a gift.  We’ll have a more complete list with ages the first of November but wanted to give you a head start until then.    Some suggestions for girls are Barbie and other fashion dolls, hair accessories, makeup bags, toiletries, journals/diaries, fingerless gloves, etc.   All kids like fidget spinners, crafts, art supplies, sports items, books, games, stuffed animals, socks, slippers, etc.   Pajamas are always a welcome gift for the kids and many sets have already been sent by Kathy Carpino’s church group.  They can use more in the larger sizes 10-14/16.

Kimmie is still dealing with money issues at the shelter but things have improved since she got a grant from the NOVA foundation. That money will help cover shortages and also help with the womanhood ceremony which is now open to all girls on the Rez.  Kimmie has purchased a few more sewing machines and fabric for the girls to make their ceremonial dresses with the help of elders in the community.  The ceremony will be held next summer and girls need to attend 2 sessions a month to be ready for their Isnati.  Kimmie met with SD Senator John Thune to discuss the issues she’s been having receiving money awarded through a federal grant to operate the shelter.  He did help get some of the money into their account and will work with her again if needed.

The $20,000  housing grant Kimmie was awarded to renovate the rooms over the garage will soon be put to good use as they start the construction process.  She’s been getting some furniture donations for the rooms which will help the budget and allow her to make other needed repairs around the shelter.  Kimmie wants to coordinate the bedding and room color to make it look more inviting and not “institutional”.  Many of the families come from terrible home environments and she wants to make the shelter as comfortable and homey as possible during their short stay there.  Kat from Halfknits may take on the task of making quilts for the beds once the construction is done.  Look at how Enchanted Makeovers has fixed up their rooms.  The shelter provides a safe environment for clients and they’re usually in no hurry to leave especially the children, they begin to cry when it comes time to go.  Once clients leave they’re still monitored and receive a lot of follow-up care.  So far only a few have been readmitted to the shelter.

Kimmie says it’s more stressful living on the Rez these days with all the uncertainties in our federal government.  Even before the new administration it was tough going but now with the threats of major cuts to the heating program for low-income families and the end of the food stamp program people are understandably worried.  Treaties the government made with various Indian tribes have never been honored, most have been broken, amended or ignored altogether so conditions on the Rez remain as they are.

Finally,  some of you might have tried to access the website for the shelter, CDC etc . It has been down for a month or more as they make changes to content etc.  It has taken longer than expected to get it functional again  as money  to pay someone was an  issue for a short while but hopefully we see a new updated version in the near future. Both the My Space Youth Center and the Sacred Shawl have a facebook page that gets updated from time to time .

Thank you to SFK and all group members for everything you do to help Kimmie help those in Martin and across Pine Ridge.  Maybe we can’t help the entire Rez but we are making a difference to those people Kimmie serves through her programs.  A warm coat or a pair of shoes, diapers or formula for a baby, school supplies or a toy for a child may be simple gifts but they mean so much to the person that receives them.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanblee Elder Center Needs

It’s taken a while to arrange a phone call with Jerome but we finally managed to coordinate our schedules and he’s given the following information and needs for the elder center in Wanblee.  Julia R, previous director at the center, left her job after serving the tribe for over 20 years.  The elders were without their daily meals at the center until a replacement could be found.  We’re happy to report the center is open once again with Mr. Red Elk as director with his wife, Marilyn Charging Crow, volunteering her time to get the center attendance back to capacity.  During their first week at the center they had less than 25 elders but over the past few weeks the numbers have steadily increased to their present number of 50 to 60 meals a day.  Some elders have their meals delivered as they have no transportation to the center.  Recent tribal statistics report about 750 meals were served each month M-F to elders prior to the three week shutdown.  There’s a total of 47 female and 42 male elders in the Wanblee area.

Volunteer groups from Colorado and Nebraska arrived over the summer to make some much needed improvements to the elder center.  They did structural work to the building, added more lighting, installed more electric heaters, painted the walls and as word got out about the changes more elders started coming every day.  Pictures of the improvements are here. Good, nutritious food and socialization are both important for elders and it’s also a good way for staff to monitor them either in their homes or at the center.  Another group will soon be installing two steel entrance doors which will help with heating costs and make the building more secure preventing theft which can be an issue in high poverty areas.  Jerome is still looking for a group to replace the roof before winter.  The cook stove is still in need of repair or replacement so in the meantime they’re making do with what they have.

When Mr Red Elk arrived he realized there wasn’t a lot of cookware and what they did have was in poor condition so Jerome asked him to make a list of needs which we’ve posted below.  Jerome also said a crock pot, roaster and electric skillet were missing from recently donated items to the center.  Jerome asked Julia about them and she said she took them when she retired as didn’t have those items at home and for now doesn’t plan to return them.  Maybe after 20 plus years of service she felt entitled to a retirement gift?  Many other things sent in like dish towels, silverware, dishes, etc. were given to elders that needed them and we expected that items such as those would be shared with elders in need.  Julia served the elders well during her time as director at the center, every two weeks she made the 220 mile round trip to Pine Ridge to pick up food, plastic utensils, toilet paper, etc. and if supplies ran out before her next trip she bought them herself using her own funds and was not reimbursed.  We make no judgments nor take sides in matters on the Rez and stand by the old Cherokee proverb, “Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes”.  And so we move on.

Jerome and Theresa give individual elders and the elder center extra food whenever they receive donations from visiting groups or from Running Strong or NAHA.  They also deliver food to the center when they go to the food bank in Rapid City which adds a little variety to the menu as most of their food is prepared from canned goods.  If the trucks have toiletries or cleaning supplies they try to save some for the elder center.  Hopefully in the future as more gardens get established in the area, elders and the entire community will have access to fresh produce.  Once the community center is finished (SFK donors have already bought the refrigerator and freezers) the food bank in Rapid City will start making deliveries and Wanblee will finally have a food bank center and elders will receive a monthly food box

The following items are on Mr. Elk’s needs list for the elder center.  Anne Fields dropped off 50 plates for the center and many items for the Woodchucks on her recent trip to the Rez which they were delighted to receive.

Elder Center Needs

  • Pots – 2 gallon and XL preferably stainless steel for cooking soup for 50+ people.
  • Prep bowls – Stainless steel in S-XL for cake mixing, salads, etc.
  • Plastic Containers – Medium and larger sizes for food storage.
  • Electric Mixer
  • Crock Pots
  • Roasters
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Coffee Maker – 30 cup
  • Pitchers – Large for Kool-Aid and iced tea.
  • Ladles – For soup, etc. and spaghetti ladle
  • Cutlery – Stainless steel spoons and forks (have lots of knives). Plastic cutlery for home deliveries.
  • Ceiling Fan – for storage pantry
  • Cooling Fans – Floor models on stands
  • Kitchen Linens – Pot holders square and mitt type,  dish towels, dish cloths. hand towels
  • Paper goods – Paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, copy paper
  • Cleaning supplies – Clorox/bleach, Pine Sol, Floor cleaner.

 

The Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” is doing a special elder project this year for Christmas.  They’re filling a plastic shoe box with toiletries, personal items, gloves, hats, and other needs for each elder in the Wanblee area.  Kat from the charity group, Halfknits, is delivering afghans/blankets they’ve made on her whirlwind trip from Texas to Marty Indian School, Martin and Wanblee, the same trip Anne Fields from Lakota Friends Circle just made from her home in Georgia.  The SFK Yahoo group, Pine Ridge Elders, and SFK  Volunteer  group on Facebook are also working on warm winter items for the elders.  The needs list below is for individual elders in the Wanblee area, both those that come to the center and those that live in the outlying areas without transportation.

 ELDER NEEDS

  • Blankets – Afghans, quilts, and blankets, twin size.
  • Socks – For men and women, larger tops more desirable for those suffering from diabetes.  Some shoe sizes are 12+ for men and 10+ for women so need larger sock sizes.
  • Hats and Gloves – for winter, hand crafted or purchased, L-XL.
  • Toiletries – Small or hotel sizes, shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. in small bags for easy giving.
  • Incontinence Products – Depends or other brand for men and women in XL.  These are a constant need. Waterproof pads for bed good too.
The community is hoping to have activities such as Bingo games, etc. at the elder center in the near future so we’ll keep you posted as they’ll need “prizes” such as wash cloths, toiletries, kleenex, etc.  We’re keeping a list of donations that you can check before shopping or sending.  Please send all donations to Jerome High Horse  here.  Include a note in your box stating it’s for the elder center and include a SASE if wanting a response and if needing a tax deduction include a charitable deduction form with a note to please sign and return.  If you would like to help the elders but don’t have time for shopping you can give a monetary donation to Lakota Friends Circle here.  Please make a notation where you want your donation used.  If you’re a Facebook user you’re welcome to join our active group here.
Thank you for continuing to support elders on the Rez.  Many of them are raising grandchildren, volunteering their time in schools and their communities, never receiving recognition and even going hungry when there isn’t enough food to go around.  We think it’s time to help those who give so much but receive (and expect) so little.
Thank you from Sew For Kids.

 

September/October Projects

Temps on the Rez are still in the 70’s and 80’s but will soon be on the downward slide as fall and winter approach.  This time of the year is when our areas need the most help.  Marty Indian School in Marty, My Space Youth Center and Sacred Shawl Society/CDC in Martin and the community of Wanblee and surrounding areas will all need our help to ensure children and families stay warm this winter.  Kids always love the first snowfall and enjoy playing in it with their friends sledding, building snowmen and throwing snowballs but a lot of them don’t have coats or boots and go out wearing just a hoodie and a pair of tennis shoes, most likely with no socks!  When their fingers are frozen and they head inside to get warm many of them go into a home with little or no heat.

It’s all about priority on the Rez, some families will delay filling the propane tank in order to buy food, medicine or other emergency needs.  An already meager budget is strained to the breaking point in winter when electric bills are much higher, more propane is needed for heating and family members are returning home from their seasonal jobs which means more mouths to feed and the loss of their income to help support the family. There are very few jobs on the Rez, most are employed at the BIA or other government office or seasonally at construction sites, ranches or by the National Park Service.  Fortunately kids are in school most days where they can stay warm and get breakfast and lunch and sometimes an afternoon snack before they head home for the night.  For many children this is their last meal for the day as there won’t be supper waiting for them at home.

Propane companies deliver a minimum of $150 of fuel and that may only last a few weeks in poorly insulated homes with doors and windows in bad disrepair.  A full tank of propane can cost upwards of $700, an impossible amount for most families to come up with.  They do try to cover windows with plastic or heavy blankets, if they have them, but the cold winds still find their way through any small cracks and especially through the floors of trailers without skirting.  Heat is kept as low as possible at night to keep pipes from freezing to conserve but that puts people at risk for hypothermia, especially children, elders and those that are suffering from chronic illnesses.

We don’t know if funds for the LIHEAP heating program will be cut again this year but we’re hoping not as the people that receive those funds are among the poorest in the country, including our families on the Rez.  The amount of help each person receives has been decreasing every year making an already bad situation much worse.

Our project for the next 2 months is reserved for warm winter clothing and blankets. Many members of our group as well as the Ravelry group, Halfknits and FOPRR work on winter needs most of the year so they’re prepared to send when temperatures begin to drop.

September/October  Warm Winter Gear

  • Winter coats, buntings for babies, snow pants, hoodies, fleece pullovers and sweaters, sweatshirts and sweatpants, ponchos, shawls, sleep sacks for babies, warm flannel/fleece pj’s, long underwear, fleece lined leggings, and anything else warm and suitable for layering in sizes infant through adult.
  • Gloves, mittens (fingerless too), scarves, cowls, hats.  Crafters get out your crochet hooks and knitting needles, sewers can make them from fleece, shoppers can buy ready made.
  • Boots and shoes suitable for winter, warm socks, slippers either hand crafted or purchased.  Keeping extremities warm is essential, even more important for the elderly and diabetics.
  • Warm blankets…. twin to queen size for beds, smaller for kids to wrap up in.

Check your closets for extra or outgrown coats, ask friends and family to check theirs too, visit thrift stores and the fall garage sales.  When packing your boxes consider adding some items to make hot drinks such as tea bags, coffee, hot chocolate and also nutritious snacks to provide some extra calories to burn to maintain body heat.

This is also the time we set aside to make or buy warm pajamas for kids so they’re not sleeping in their street clothes.  Many kids have very few changes of clothes and the ones they have may not have been laundered for a while, sleeping in dirty clothes that might be worn to school the next day does nothing for a child’s dignity or self esteem.  Sleeping in street clothes also exposes kids to all the pollutants they’ve been exposed to throughout the day.  We encourage mothers to use warm sleepsacks with layered clothing underneath to keep their babies warm instead of using lots of blankets or sleeping with them, both of which increases the risk of SIDS.  Learning how to use a blanket on an infant correctly can prevent a tragedy from occurring.

In the past we’ve also made pillowcases for the new pillows we bought around this time for the kids but this year we’ve decided to put this project on the Christmas gift list.  Whatever you can do to help, even if it’s only one warm hat or pair of mittens, means there’s one child out there staying warm with your gift.  We are so grateful for all our generous SFK members and for all the groups we partner with.

Please send your donations here,  If you would like to join our working group please visit us on Facebook 

 

 

 

Latest News From Wanblee and the Sacred Shawl/Youth Center

Wanblee

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.

Martin Updates

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!