I’ve often mentioned the Kennedy Hall in the community of Wanblee, SD in my blogs so think it’s about time to tell you the history of the building and include some photos. This is the exterior of the building
In 1960 the Kennedy family visited Pine Ridge and gave funding to the tribe to be used to build a youth center in each district on the reservation. The youth centers were well used and provided a safe and fun environment for kids to gather and just “hang out”. Living in an impoverished area most kids had no toys or activities at home so the center provided what parents couldn’t. Wanblee’s youth center was closed about 15 years ago because there were no funds available to maintain the building which was slowly falling apart and becoming unsafe.
Realizing the need for a local youth center two women from Wanblee, applied for Empowerment Zone Funds and succeeded in obtaining a grant of $28,000 to refurbish the building. With the help of a church in Indiana and local residents they rehabbed the building and once again family activities resumed at the beginning of this year. Once a week Social Services and WIC set up tables in the center and provide services to the community. With transportation and money being major issues on the rez, most people wouldn’t be able to easily access these services if local opportunities weren’t provided.
These photos show the interior of the building. The first two photos are of the front and back of the main room. These are the two bathrooms. This is the kitchen with a new stove and refrigerator They have some tables and chairs for events. As you can see it’s a beautiful building but lacks many resources. Family activities in the center will continue as long as funds are available but they would like to provide more regular activities for the area youth. For this to happen they need resources and volunteers to run the programs. They have the volunteers who are willing to be in charge of programs and supervise the kids, they just need the resources and funding. Wanblee has a population of 1250 with nearly 400 of that total, children wanting to participate in the programs .
Summer is rapidly approaching and they would like to get a couple of the programs in place soon. The Wanblee children desperately need your help. We need your help to make their summer a fun and enjoyable time. Please ask your local community, family members, friends and churches to help. Below is a list of items needed immediately .The children gave their input as to what they would love to have at the center. Gently used items are always welcomed.
- Basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, baseballs, bats and gloves, regular balls
- Jump ropes, sandbox toys
- Board games and card games,puzzles for all ages
- DVD and VHS movies (No violent or other inappropriate movies please)
- Books – Children, teen and adult books are all needed to help build a library at the center. Subjects – nature, fiction, cooking, childbirth, pregnancy, breastfeeding, sewing, crafting, gardening, etc.
With your help we can once again make the Kennedy Center a place where youth can come together and learn new skills, improve their health through exercise, maintain skills learned in school, and build lasting friendships.