School supplies, pencil pouches, clothing, socks, underwear, and shoes have been arriving on the Rez. While there will always be children in need, Theresa and Jerome are delighted with the huge response and sincerely thank everyone for their generous donations. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit held a back to school drive too and sent over 30 filled backpacks for the kids. Since we’re still concentrating on school needs this month please continue to send school supplies (especially pencils), clothing items and shoes. Theresa and Jerome apologize for being behind on thank you notes, they have had illness in the family recently. In addition, this past Sunday Theresa’s sister passed away after a long illness. Our condolences to the family.
It’s not unusual to call Jerome and find out that he’s just returned from attending yet another funeral. Sadly death comes early at Pine Ridge, life expectancy is 48 for men and 52 for women compared with the national average of 76 for men and 81 for women. Things are not getting better in many areas of the Rez because the sequester cuts have impacted social programs there as well as those across the US with sad consequences. Elders, who once relied on a small government assistance check, provided to those with little or no income, have lost that due to the cuts. Hopefully most have family members to help them out but that’s not certain as most families are struggling just to keep the utilities on and their children fed. Native Americans are generous and would feed anyone that was hungry, many homes keep a soup pot simmering on the stove and coffee brewing, but these days that soup is pretty watered down and contains little or no meat. Schools and health programs that deal with both physical and mental health are also coping with funding cuts which impacts almost every family on the Rez.
Rolland’s house is now finished with funding provided from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, and Nancy Bishop-Ward’s group with final costs coming in around $7000. Volunteers on and off the Rez helped put it together. Hearts also provided funds to put on a new roof for two elderly brothers that were in dire need, thankfully they will spend this fall/winter season without rain and snow blowing in. Other home improvement projects are in the works and will begin as soon as funding becomes available.
Recently a few SFK supporters donated funds to Hearts to purchase a new table saw for Jerome, his was 15 years old and had definitely seen better days. Jerome takes his group of men around the community helping those that need home repairs or other jobs that need a few strong hands. The men receive “payment” in the form of a home cooked meal at the end of the day, provided by Theresa, and the skill and knowledge they receive by working with Jerome. Winter will be here before you know it and soon Jerome and his “Woodchucks” will be busy cleaning out ranchers creeks that are littered with dead tree branches. The wood they cut will be given to local residents which helps supply some of the fuel they’ll need for the winter months. Last year Hearts provided saw blades and oil to keep the saws humming and also bought 7 wood stoves for families in need. I’m sure once October rolls around they will help once again through their heating program. All the warm clothing and blankets our loyal SFK supporters send in each year are greatly appreciated and desperately needed to keep people warm in the harsh climate of SD.
Days are still warm enough on the Rez but night temperatures are dropping. Anne Fields, a good friend and supporter of Hearts, SFK and the High Horses, has arranged for a small non-profit to work with Troy’s group (Hearts of the Sacred Spirit) to get Theresa and Jerome the remaining equipment needed to show movies. Hopefully they’ll be able to start movie nights soon before it gets too cold to sit outside as they’ll be using the side of their house as the “screen”. We’re crossing our fingers that they’ll be able to use the Kennedy Hall this winter to show weekly movies for the community.
The sewing circle has met a few times and all the donations sent in for that program are greatly appreciated. Unfortunately the group has had a couple of setbacks with trouble getting a regular time slot at the Kennedy Hall to meet and most recently with illnesses in the High Horse family. The program is temporarily on hold but will definitely continue when the current situation improves. Theresa would hold the meeting in her basement but she needs to save the space to store the winter and Christmas items that come in. A storage building is needed but funds need to be raised to make it happen.
I recently spoke to nurse Michelle on Rosebud and nurse Debbie in Wanblee for an update on their baby programs. Michelle wants to thank all of you for the wonderful donations sent for their program but asks if we could put a temporary hold on future donations while they re-evaluate their program and try to find someone to take it over full time. She is currently dealing with hospital regulations about donations of certain items which is the same thing Debbie had to deal with on Pine Ridge and the reason SFK sends to the High Horses and Debbie picks up her things from them. They’re also dealing with an increased workload and the few employees they have are doing double and triple duty, the baby program is working but administering the program is taking time they don’t have. Michelle will let us know about the future of their program when a decision has been reached.
Michelle wrote to me that “As for Rosebud news, Rosebud OB/ GYN team has been selected for a Director’s award through all of IHS’s ( Indian Health Service). One member of the team will be selected to go to Washington DC to receive this award. The award is for their work in being baby friendly and breastfeeding! Yay!! We are still averaging around 10-20 births a month. We did have a set of healthy twins born last week who received awesome prenatal care! We continue to try to award mothers who have had good prenatal care, although we also do give away items if a mother is in need.” Michelle
Way to go Rosebud! We’re so glad the word is getting out to expectant women and that they’re coming to the clinic to receive prenatal and postpartum care which benefits both mom and her baby.
Debbie from the Wanblee baby program is as busy as ever and says they’re averaging around 7 births a month. She is also covers the community of Martin, SD. Debbie has been relegated to the basement of the Wanblee Health Clinic as more space was needed and her duties are mainly off site as a public health nurse. Although she does need a place to keep her stuff, she has most of her supplies for home visits and immunization clinics in her car. She can’t see patients in her basement office because of the risk of someone falling down the stairs and the possibility there may be black mold present, which is a common occurrence on the Rez. The office has already been tested and she’s waiting to hear the results from the lab.
Debbie is now seeing her patients at local area WIC offices and is enjoying it very much. She holds weekly immunization clinics there and has gotten referrals from WIC to do breastfeeding counseling for women. Previously Debbie has had a problem getting referrals from the health clinic as the midwife there rarely shared patients names with her. Now with the WIC referrals she can do counseling before delivery, hand out literature and be a resource for women to use should they have questions before or after delivery. Debbie still does her monthly talk to families at Crazy Horse high school where she is also the acting school nurse. October’s subject will be dealing with obesity, it’s consequences and solutions. And if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy she also visits elders and takes care of their health needs in her “spare” time.
When I hooked up with Debbie, she was on her way to do a home visit with a new mother who had recently given birth and has several more visits to make over the next few weeks to new mothers. Her supply of things for diaper bags is getting really low so she really needs our help to build up her supply, please check here for a list of those items. She would also be thrilled if we could send supplies for nursing mothers such as nursing pads, covers and nursing pillows. Some women have been asking for slings or moby wraps as well. Check here for that list. Please send all donations for Debbie to Theresa and Jerome at this address. As soon as your donation arrives Debbie receives a call from the High Horses that she has a box to pick up. If Theresa knows of a baby in need she will use some of the donations as well, word has spread to other parts of the Rez that Theresa and Jerome help those in need.
For those of you able to help with the baby supplies let us know what you’re sending here or on our Facebook page so we know what items are still needed. Also crayons, books, small toys, stickers, etc. can also be used to “reward” kids for coming to the clinic for their immunizations. When sending things for Debbie please state on the package that it’s for her baby program and/or her clinics. We probably need to do another monthly drive to get her supplies adequately stocked but in the meantime she could really use anything we can send.
I’ve finally started sewing again trying to finish projects started before the move. It was really hard to sew and keep a tidy house for prospective buyers so not much was accomplished this summer, although I did finish 3 knitted blankets that will be shipping out soon. Hopefully we’ll soon have a report about Janet’s trip to visit the High Horses in July. In the meantime keep sewing or knitting/crocheting for the babies and children or the elders if you’re so inclined, they all need our help. Thanks for sharing your time and talents.