Believe it or not the Rez got hit with another snowstorm this week! I phoned to talk to Jerome and Theresa, only to find them out in the car delivering wood to needy families and elders…. wood that had been cut and stored for the next fall/winter season. They arrived home at 11 pm , their last delivery for the day being diapers for a family that had none , with no money to buy more. The NAHA truck hasn’t brought any disposable diapers the last 2 months so families scramble to find some when their money runs out at the end of the month. Jerome and I discussed about having some cloth diapers available for those times to help get them through the month so is a project for us to work on in the near future. Luckily Jerome and Theresa had just received a shipment of quilts from the group Kidz Quiltz before the storm hit so if people needed a blanket to keep warm, they got one. An elderly volunteer with that group, makes many of their quilts and she wanted them donated to the Rez according to Wilma, director of the organization. Many, many thanks to all their dedicated volunteers and especially Lucy for thinking of the Rez.
The Easter party held in April was fun for the children but there wasn’t enough food for the 400 people that attended. Donations from the group purchasing the food were down this year as they weren’t able to keep their commitment. Theresa and Jerome felt badly about it as people were expecting a good meal, especially since food supplies have been low in many families the past few months. Families increase in size during the winter months because family members return home when their seasonal jobs end. Cuts have also been made to some of the federal food programs so people are having an even more difficult time getting through the last few weeks of the month. Especially hard are those months that have 4 plus weeks since food stamps and commodities do not arrive until the first of the month. Jerome gets food from the food bank in Rapid City the last week of each month, made possible through donations from Worldwide Hunger Relief. He plans to store some of the food each month in the new storage truck so they will have enough to feed people attending community events and also to help families needing emergency food. The truck still needs to be wired and a freezer purchased so they can store perishables. Although the cost of the food is covered by WWHR, Jerome and Theresa must come up with gas money for the round trip to Rapid City, usually over $100 as its a 200 plus mile round trip. Also anytime that Running Strong has food to give out during holidays, Jerome and Theresa again hop in their car and head over to Porcupine on the main Rez campus and again dig into their pockets for gas money and for deliveries to families who have no transportation.
Children had lots of fun hunting eggs at the Easter party, Theresa saved some of the toys that came off a recent NAHA truck for prizes, sadly many were broken or missing pieces but thanks to a group of talented young men they were able to repair some of them. More prizes were purchased by Jerome and Theresa and many were sent in from SFK. The children were delighted with the bags we made and were able to carry home any loot they received at the party in them. Although they try to have as many community events as possible, Theresa said the ones they can use help with the most are Easter and Christmas. Other parties are not as important to the kids, although any time food is served you can bet there will be a large crowd. We will be asking our generous supporters to help us with those two parties and anyone who wants to do more, can certainly do so. Another issue that came up, was not having water coolers to hold the drinks in, someone had borrowed them from the Kennedy Hall and not returned them. Making drinks in large quantities is really the only way they can afford to provide for large crowds so we plan to purchase coolers that Jerome and Theresa will keep in the truck so they will have them when needed.
A group of high school students from Delaware and their teacher, who is also a representative of Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, came to the Rez on their spring break and took apart pallets Jerome has been storing and used them to build a chicken coop. A local rancher is donating some chickens to get them started, but they still need feed and water containers, an incubator and an enclosed run so wild dogs, raccoons, etc. can’t make off with the hens. A dozen eggs runs $3.85 at the local 711 type store and a gallon of milk is $6.85 so you see why food stamps don’t go very far on the Rez. Jerome will have to charge a nominal fee for the eggs to recoup the cost of feed, but families will still be saving plenty of money. People can purchase cheaper food at Wal Mart over a hundred miles away and other discount stores but many families either don’t have a car or the money for gas if they do have one .
The weather hasn’t been cooperating for any work to be done in the garden but seeds and monetary donations through Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (our “Mother” organization) are still needed.
The Woodchucks are going to make picnic tables for the park, and for those people in the community that want one, from the pallets from NAHA deliveries. Jerome said they could sell them for a small price to the families who want them using the funds for other community needs. Jerome will purchase the nails, screws, stain and polyurethane needed to build the tables. The men are learning many skills working alongside Jerome and willingly help whenever there’s a need. He likes to help his men whenever he can as all they receive for their work is a good meal cooked by Theresa.
Theresa has started to teach some of the young women in the community how to sew and is requesting fabric and some basic sewing notions so they can work on small projects initially. She would like to start having sales again like they used to featuring items made from local people. Once that program gets into full swing we’ll let you know of other needs. There’s nothing we would like more than having a sewing group on the Rez working alongside us. So if you have some extra material, add some to your box if you have room.
Jerome said someone painted the walls of the Kennedy Hall brown thinking it would be a better color for hiding scuff marks and dirt, however this means they don’t have a white wall to show movies for the kids. They will have to repaint at least one of the walls, maybe a project for some of the volunteers that show up in the summer. During the warmer months they try to show movies on the side of their house but since this year has been a cold one they need to be shown inside. Renting the Kennedy Hall has been too expensive ($50 a day) for them as they have to take out of their own pocket so they prefer to use the outdoors whenever possible. They still need packaged hot chocolate, popping corn, oil, popcorn bags and drinking cups so if you have any room left in your next box of goodies consider adding one of these.
Many sewers at SFK made dresses, shorts and skirts for the girls in April and will now start sewing shorts and shirts for boys since we’re now into May, we’ll share some patterns in the next blog. Many are also sending shoes, socks and underwear, things there are never enough of on the Rez. Here is the address to send donations to the High Horses. Thanks to all of you that helped with the Easter party and those sewing summer clothing for the kids and providing other summer needs. We will never be able to thank you enough for all your time and talents devoted to the Rez children and their families. Jerome and Theresa are so thankful too and are constantly amazed at the help they receive from this group. They’re able to do more for their people because of your generosity.
I have some photos to post but am still waiting for permission to post them so will add them here, once I can do so. If you have photos of items that you have made, send them to me here and I will post them for all to enjoy. Love to show off the talented people we have on this group.