Its been awhile since we’ve done an update on the Wanblee and Rosebud projects so let’s get to it. The winter season has been challenging for everyone as usual, but like us here in the midwest they’ve had periods of mild weather which helps so much with the heating bills and just traveling around the Rez. All the coats and warm accessories you’ve donated have been a blessing and the High Horse’s send their thanks and gratitude for your generosity. Not a day goes by without someone calling for a warm coat or pair of gloves.
Most of you probably know by now the Christmas party and first Parade of Lights held in Wanblee was a huge success. News of the party traveled quickly reaching the entire Rez which probably accounts for the more than 720 people that showed up for the festivities, so many in fact the Kennedy Center couldn’t hold them all at the same time. The party planners were astonished so many came but miraculously everyone received a gift and left with a full belly. The children were especially excited with their gifts and it didn’t seem to matter whether they were new or used. Santa was a huge hit with several kids testing his beard to see if it was real (it was). Jerome got many questions from the kids about how Santa got to Wanblee without snow, he told them Santa flew into Rapid City from the North Pole and he picked him up at the airport and would take him back there to catch his flight after the party. Later that evening Jerome and Theresa delivered forty packages to families in the outlying areas who weren’t able to attend the party. People are still talking about how much fun they had six weeks later.
This year’s Christmas party is already in the planning stages because of the huge response last year. It takes a lot of time and many people working together to pull off a successful party of this size. The most important benefits of holding these events is renewed community spirit and giving people hope which is so needed on the Rez when most of their days look bleak. We can all help next year’s event be successful by joining with those in Wanblee and plan ahead. We here at SFK will be checking out sales, thrift stores and our own closets and kids toy rooms for gifts we can send for the children.
Troy from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (the 501c3 we’re under) traveled from his home in Delaware to Wanblee recently for a few days staying with Theresa and Jerome High Horse. While there Troy, with donations from his organization, was able to purchase 3 wood stoves for families in need, a log splitter much needed by Jerome and his “Woodchucks” who clean out creeks for area ranchers and deliver the wood to area homes. He also purchased the materials needed to build a home for Rolland, an elderly man who lives in a dilapidated trailer 20 miles out of Wanblee. Nancy Bishop-Ward was instrumental in raising the money needed to build Rolland’s home. Way to go Nancy! Jerome, along with his crew recruited from area volunteers, will begin construction as soon as the weather clears, they hope to be finished in about a week. Items purchased by Hearts of the Sacred Spirit can be seen here. Thanks to all who contributed to the house build project.
During his visit Troy and Jerome also discussed plans on how to best help the Wanblee area. A few of the projects they decided on were a community garden and greenhouse for this year and the possibility of raising chickens in the future. Homes are in dire need of repair on the Rez and Jerome drove Troy around so he could see the needs first hand and take pictures which will help in his fundraising efforts. Go to the homepage of Hearts of the Sacred Spirit to see the pictures and please donate towards this important project if you can, no amount is too small.
Movie night at the Kennedy Hall has begun but they’re still in need of DVD’s for all ages especially younger children. Going to the movies isn’t possible for most people on the Rez due to the long distances they would have to travel and not having money for the tickets even if they were lucky enough to get to a theater. Jerome and Theresa have a wall on the exterior of their home they can project a film onto in the summer months for kids to watch which is a little reminiscent of those drive-in movies some of us might remember from our childhood. They’re able to provide popcorn with the machine donated by the local police force which adds to the “movie” atmosphere. “Movie Night” helps bring the community together and also provides a safe activity for kids on the weekend. If you would like to donate DVD’s and/or regular popcorn (no microwave), please send to Jerome and Theresa here.
The ladies sewing circle is set to begin soon and we have received a list of needs that will be posted in a future blog. We’re so happy to have women from the Rez sewing alongside us helping provide for their and their communities needs. So check your sewing rooms for extra fabric and notions if you want to help the ladies get up and running.
The next community activity is the Easter party which includes dinner, they’re expecting about 500 people to attend. A list of needs will be posted soon, we know they’ll need plastic eggs, candy and prizes for the Easter egg hunt. The eggs will be stuffed with candy and some with numbers for prizes, how much candy they contain and how many winning numbers there are will depend on the donations received.
We’re making some changes in shipping addresses for the Shining Start Program in Wanblee to make it easier for our donors as well as Debbie at the baby project and Lisa at Head Start. Debbie is frequently on the road which makes it difficult to coordinate a time with Lisa to go through donations and put together the diaper bags. So all baby items will now go to Jerome and Theresa (Debbie will pick her things up there) along with clothing items for all ages, blankets, household goods, basically everything except our literacy bags and educational items which will still be mailed to Lisa. The only exception to the clothing rule will be when we have a special request from Lisa for her HS students especially at the beginning of the school year. If you’re sending a box to the High Horse’s and just have a couple of things for HS add them to the box to save on postage, Lisa will pick up her things there.
Rosebud Women’s Health program is seeing an increase of women coming to the clinic for prenatal care and more women are breastfeeding for longer periods. This past week Michelle, RN took an inventory of their supplies and feels they have enough baby items for now but will call again when they’re running low. Good job team for filling up those shelves!
Thanks to all of you that are helping make these projects successful.