Summer Projects in Wanblee

It’s a rainy day here and I’m still stuck on the couch with my foot up after fracturing my heel and spraining my ankle a little over a week ago.This has definitely put a damper on my sewing and it’s also prevented me from crawling around the closets and pulling out things that were supposed to be shipped out for the baby project this month. Since my right foot is the injured one, driving is out too. There’s plenty of fabric in my stash waiting for the next project, it’s just so frustrating not to be able to use it!  What a bummer, not just for me but for the babies who would benefit from items I could make. I know others are pitching in to help but I wanted to do my part too. I may not be machine sewing but am finishing hand sewing projects and knitting for the babies.  Moving across the country is in the works too, hopefully in the near future if the house sells soon.

So far this month the babies have received summer outfits, onesies, towels, quilts, receiving blankets and sleep sacks which are needed to help prevent the high rate of SIDS found in the Native American population. Some of you are already working ahead on things for the winter months. Although parents don’t have to worry about hypothermia in the warm weather, summers can be sweltering on the Rez and they still need cool, lightweight clothing for their babies. All you mothers out there probably remember when your children were infants, how many changes of clothing they went through on a daily basis.  When your boxes for the babies arrive at the High Horse’s, Debbie (nurse in Wanblee) is notified that she has items to pick up. Donations go out as fast as they come in, sometimes the same day as everything you send is needed. Theresa  does try to save back a few baby items for the emergency calls she  receives from parents who sometimes don’t even have a blanket for their newborn.  Michelle from Rosebud can still use onesies, sleepers and summer outfits. You can find addresses here, for sending your donations.

I called Jerome to get the latest Wanblee news . He’s still experiencing pain from knee surgery but is keeping as busy as he can. He had just come in from weeding the garden with 20 plus kids the first time I called. They have kids in the community and a group called YouthWorks from Chicago who are helping with some of the things that need done in Wanblee, the garden being one of those projects. The vegetable plants are about 3- 4 inches high now and hopefully survived the hail they received yesterday when I called Jerome back. They are worried about the tomato plants as they were expensive to buy but Jerome will purchase more if needed and other things can be replanted as they still have seeds. The kids  who have put many hours of work into the garden are going to be discouraged if they need to start over.  Time will tell, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. We want their first time gardening to be a positive experience although Mother Nature may have other plans.  Thanks to those of you that included seeds in your donations, if they weren’t used in the community garden they were passed out for family gardens. Our thanks also goes out to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit for helping with the major set up costs for the garden. Hopefully the garden will provide healthy produce for several families in need and supplement the food stamps or commodities they receive each month or help feed an elder who has no income and receives little food through the programs.

Jerome and Theresa recently drove to Milwaukee to pick up donations of shoes, furniture, baby items and food the local community collected.  Everything was gone as soon as they unloaded them in the Kennedy Hall. Shoes are always on the “needed” list and of course food is always in short supply.  A mother who didn’t have anything for her baby got a bassinet, car seat and high chair;  mattresses were given out to those who didn’t have a bed; a chair went to a family who had no furniture in their living room and dressers were given out to folks who had nowhere to put their clothes.  One lady was especially delighted with one of the dressers as now she had a place to store her sewing supplies for the quilts and mending she does to earn money.  

Jerome and Theresa also visited  Will Allen’s farm in Milwaukee for a few hours to observe some of his growing methods. Two students were chosen from Wanblee to go to Will’s training course to learn these methods and they’ll be bringing this knowledge back to share with the community. Jerome drove them to Milwaukee for the course. Hopefully in the future a greenhouse can be purchased for the area where people can grow their own tomato, pepper and other plants and not have to rely on garden centers located off the Rez.  Chicken coops haven’t been built yet but there are still plans to make it happen, if not this year then next.

A group of local men are helping Jerome finish building Rolland’s house. It’s being built at Jerome’s and will be transferred via flat bed trailer to the final destination that Rolland chooses. Jerome is also busy repairing lawn mowers for people who own them so grass can be cut around homes giving poisonous snakes less places to hide.  He’s also repairing flat tires for kid’s bikes.  Bicycles are also a popular mode of transportation for adults although they have to be on the watch for wild dogs. Bike donations for kids and adults are always welcome.

Arrangements for the 4th of July cookout are coming along. Several supporters of Sew For Kids have sent things for the games/activities -basketballs, baseballs, beach balls, volleyball set, badminton sets, horseshoe games for kids and adults and many more items.  All the sports equipment will be saved for future events. Hamburgers and brats should come from Worldwide Hunger Relief, as well as some fireworks which are scheduled for the evening.  Still needed are hot dogs and buns, watermelons for dessert and plastic cutlery, cups and plates. Thanks to all that have made monetary donations or sent items for the party.

The agenda for the day is:

2 pm – Games and activities begin

6 pm – Cookout

9 pm – Fireworks display

The 4th will soon be here but there’s still time if you would like to help out with the food.  Please send your donations (any amount welcome!) by mail or paypal to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit  and specify your donation is for the July 4th party. If enough funds aren’t received Jerome will do as he always does and take out of his own pocket to make sure the kids have a good time. These parties take place because of the dedication Jerome and Theresa have for the children in their community. They take the time to find like minded individuals to help plan and work the events, it takes many people working together to pull off these large parties.   

Finally several area homes are in dire need of repairs – leaking roofs, broken or absent doors and windows, etc. and Hearts of the Sacred Spirit is hoping to fund projects that the High Horse’s have deemed high priority and in need of immediate attention. The stories behind these repairs are heart wrenching. Many of these folks are sickly, have been living in homes that are downright frigid in the winter and don’t even provide basic protection against the elements. Many homes belong to the elderly or single mothers who might have a job but only makes enough to pay for the basic necessities with nothing left over for home repair. Summer’s a great time to do this work, people in the community team up with volunteers from across the country that come to help with local projects. How many of these repairs that can be accomplished this year will depend on the funds donated to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit. More details will be provided in a future blog but any monies received now can be used  to purchase building supplies – nails, doors, insulation, shingles, etc. Not taking care of these repairs  now only leads to more problems in the future as leaking roofs get worse costing more money or even making the home uninhabitable.  Lack of housing, let alone affordable housing, is a major problem on the Rez, please donate here, if you can, any amount is greatly appreciated.  

Well that’s all the news for now.  Pictures of the community garden and the 4th celebration will be posted as soon as I receive them from Jerome and I’ll also include some of the projects I’ve been working on.  Wishing all of you a fun, safe summer with family and friends.  As always, thanks for all you do from Sew For Kids.

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2 thoughts on “Summer Projects in Wanblee

  1. I wish I had known the Jerome and Theresa were going to be in Milwaukee. I live in a suburb of Milwaukee and would have loved to send items back with them. If it was mentioned before, I must have missed it.

    • Sorry about that Jean. I did not know either but am going to talk to him about letting us know. At times a big truck from Worldwide Hunger relief comes down to the Rez with food but also brings in other stuff so may be able to hook into that as well and state that you want the items to go to Wanblee area.

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