Summer On the Rez

Sorry for the delay in getting the blog out, I’ve been playing phone tag with the High Horses but have finally made contact so on to the monthly news.

School’s out, kids are getting to sleep in unless they’re attending summer school, and volunteer groups will soon be arriving on the Rez.  Jerome and the directors of YouthWorks have been busy planning work projects for the youth that come to the Rez each year to help paint houses, mow, clean up empty lots and gardens, etc. Bob and Mary from Families Working Together are coming out next week to help rehab Jerome and Theresa’s daughter’s trailer which according to Jerome needs a lot of work but was what they could afford and is paid for.  They will need the help of a local rancher to install a water and sewer line as currently the home has no plumbing facilities and they’ve been using an outhouse (common on the Rez) and showering and getting water from their parent’s home.  Jerome received the lots from his parents when they passed away so now one of his children is making use of that space.  This summer the group will also be roofing a house for two men who both work but earn about $20 a day helping a rancher.  One of the men is disabled and the other is on dialysis, what little they earn is used to pay for gas to and from the clinic. The roof will cost around $5000 as it has to be taken down to the rafters and rebuilt, they’re hoping to have it completed before winter sets in.

They’ve had lots of rain on the Rez and creeks are flooding as well as some basements in the housing project.   South Dakota’s rainfall was below average but now they’re ahead so no water restrictions for the time being, hopefully this will help with the brush and forest fires the state has every year.  The temperature today was 94 degrees and just a couple of weeks ago they were experiencing their second snowstorm for the month of May!  The flooding has made some of the roads in the outlying areas impassable and Jerome and the fire department have brought in heavy equipment to open roads so people can get out and emergency vehicles can get in if needed.  We told you in our last blog the fire department needed to raise $600 to get a second pump truck repaired, we’re happy to report, with the help of our group, $550 was raised and the truck is up and running.  The community will hold taco and bake sales to raise the $50 needed to finish paying the repair bill.  The truck has already been put into commission when it was recently used to pump water from 7 flooded basements, something that needs to be done quickly to prevent black mold from forming which is a big health issue on the Rez.

The ambulance service recently held an education and demonstration event, SFK was asked to help with food donations but we weren’t given enough prior notice and the request came while I was on vacation so we couldn’t help.  Unlike the fire department which is run by a local volunteer group, the ambulance service is owned by the tribe. It has many needs that are not being fulfilled but the local EMT’s wanted to demonstrate what they do and let the kids see the inside of an ambulance. We admire those that take the initiative to educate kids about local services and this may even inspire some to choose a career in the medical field. Food is always served at these events because people are always a little hungry, or a lot, depending on their circumstances, on the Rez and this entices people to attend their programs so they can educate.  Some of the food was provided by Jerome and Theresa and the rest was potluck style for those that could afford to bring something.  Maybe we can help in the future if they make this a yearly event.

ambulance station

ambulance station

A July 4th celebration is in the works with the fire department planning to take the opportunity to demonstrate their equipment to the community and teach fire safety.  Most homes don’t have smoke detectors and unfortunately sometimes children are left alone so they want to teach them “Stop, Drop and Roll” and other life saving skills so they can safely get out of their homes in case of fire.  Fire safety may or may not be taught in the schools as there are no fire departments that fight structural fires on the Rez, they must come in from outside communities.  If you work for a fire department or know someone that does and could help us get educational material and/or the badges and fire hats that they  could give out to kids at demonstrations, please let us know here .  Again this event has little lead time , but if they have these events on a yearly basis, we can schedule them into our yearly plans.

Wanblee+Fire+truck

For this event we’re requesting monetary donations to help purchase food. They hope to have fireworks for the celebration but will need to get those funds from other sources.  They estimate 250 people will attend which translates to  250 hamburgers,  hot dogs, and bottles of water, buns to go with the above, assorted chips, 8 watermelons, plates and cutlery.  Message from Jerome “Your assistance will be greatly appreciated, Thank You and God Bless you for all your contributions to our community.”  Sam’s prices for boxes of hamburgers (32 count) $29.95, all beef hotdogs (80 count) $21.95, bottles of water (32 count ) 5 watermelons ($5.95).   You can send Walmart gift cards or a donation to Lakota Friends Circle (LFC) at the address on this page or donate via PayPal (lfc@lakotafriendscircle.org).  SFK administrators will be helping with some of these costs.  Anne will send a charitable donation form to anyone donating directly to Lakota Friends Circle, if you send gift cards save your receipt and make the card out to Lakota Friends Circle/Theresa High Horse.

A group from Minnesota visited the Rez on Memorial Day, coming with them was the owner of a bike shop who was a past Youth Works volunteer.  He brought some bikes for the kids and did a few repairs while there and is hoping to return this summer with more needed parts. The High Horses are planning a return to trip to Rapid City to work with the Yellow Bike Project repairing bikes and bringing some more back for the local kids.  They estimate from school records there are about 600 children in Wanblee which means they need a lot of bikes to fill all the requests.  For those interested in helping with the bike project they could use tire repair kits, bike wrenches, inner tubes, etc. and the kids would love lights, bells and anything else to give their bikes “personality”.   Roads on the Rez aren’t great and kids run over sharp rocks and other debris so get a lot of flat tires.  Would be great if they could get a volunteer bike repair team going with the local teens.  They also need bike safety education and helmets but will need to research that further to get them at a good price.

Many children were smiling last week, thanks to an organization visiting the Rez, that brought a load of toys.  The moccasin trail was set into motion by making a couple of phone calls and by afternoon all the toys had found a home with some very deserving children.  In recent weeks they’ve also received a few deliveries of toiletry items from NAHA and some dry food staples from Running Strong.  The food bank hasn’t had any meat available lately so no trips have been made there as that’s what most people want and need.  Jerome did get a call from the food bank about fresh fruits and veggies free for the pick up but sadly they didn’t have gas money at the time.

Movie nights still happen when the weather cooperates, rain has been the issue for the past few weeks.  They hold the movies outside so they can save the $50 fee for renting the Kennedy Hall for other community needs.  Food supplies for movie nights are always welcome….popping corn, oil, popcorn bags and drink mixes. Other food requests from families are the following :Sugar, Tea, Coffee, Flour, Ground Cinnamon, Baking Powder, Yeast, (sugar substitute, Splenda, Truvia), Salt, Pepper, and Corn Starch. The smaller items can be tucked in a small space in a box you are sending. For the larger items , a monetary donation to LFC or again a Walmart card to purchase the items would make more sense to avoid the shipping cost.

moviejerome1

Another event planned for the end of the summer is a 4 day horse ride from Wanblee to Rosebud with people joining in along the way.  Trucks follow the group with supplies such as food, water, camping gear and a corral for the horses.  They need tarps or waterproof mats for the ground, sleeping bags, blankets, paper/plastic plates, cups and cutlery and any other camping gear you can think of.  Jerome said all donated items will be collected at the end of the ride and stored for next year.  Some people have sent air mattresses (thanks Debbie in Illinois), yoga mats, and others are crocheting mats from recycled plastic bags.   Kids love the outdoors and their horses so this will be a great experience for them and a perfect opportunity to have different generations come together and share stories, culture and ideas with each other, the Lakota are an oral society.

SFK seamstresses have been busy putting finishing touches on the summer clothing they’ve been busy creating for the kids.  Our volunteers put their hearts and souls into making unique, one of a kind pieces as you will see in our next blog once the final photos are in.  Some will create an outfit from scratch, others scour garage sales and thrift shops looking for the perfect piece to complete a set, and still others recycle clothing into a completely new garment.  Many have been sending games, books, craft and sports items to help keep the kids busy this summer.  We’ve said it before and will continue saying, “we have the best volunteers”!

In addition to needs mentioned above we have some hard core sewers that need projects to work on.  Although school just ended we’re going to start working on projects for the beginning of the new school year.

June – Miscellaneous needs/projects

Time to make pencil cases, more ideas here and school bags especially for the younger kids.

July –  Early Christmas gifts/Household linens

Start planning gifts that are labor intensive such as afghans, quilts, jackets, etc.  Towels and other linens are a luxury item on the Rez, we’re adding this need to July as stores will start running sales for students going off to college, school supplies will also start going on sale. Also requested for kids are pillowcases and pillows, the kids love them!

August – Back to School

Socks, underwear, shoes, school supplies.  Watch for those Back to School sales that start the end of July,  school starts on the Rez mid August.  If you like to make underwear there are several free patterns on the web just search Pinterest, do a Google search or try these boys boxers or this pattern for both.  I was recently looking at a list of needs for homeless shelters, at the top were socks underwear, shoes, blankets and toiletries with a towel and washcloth.  Warm clothing will be needed for winter which will be the focus for fall.

Thanks to our volunteers for sewing clothes for the children of Wanblee, they’ll be the best dressed kids for miles around!!  Last year some of the girls at the Pow Wow received one of those beautiful dresses you made, which made it extra special!   If you want to join us and sew or craft you can find us here or here.

I’ve talked with Jerome about donors receiving thank you notes from them acknowledging receipt of their packages. Because the number of volunteers has increased and because Theresa is now working with the community tribal leaders, and because summer is the only time they have decent weather to work on outdoor projects, it’s become extremely difficult for Theresa to write those wonderful letters you’ve all received in the past.  She loves writing them but feels she can do more for the community by working with the tribe which takes up most of her spare time.  What little time she does have is spent finding and helping those most in need.   So we’ve worked out a system ….First we recommend you track all your packages so you know they’ve arrived.  Theresa and Jerome are friends with all the FedEx and UPS drivers so they always get those deliveries.   Those mailing through the PO can pay a small fee to track packages, well worth the small cost….Second we will speak to Jerome directly and give you the latest updates.  We know this doesn’t replace one of those wonderful letters from Theresa but hopefully this will be acceptable for now.

You can include a SASE, an email address or phone number in your shipment, if Jerome has time he will sometimes call or email you. For those of you wanting a charitable tax form, make 2 copies of the Lakota Friends Circle form on this site, fill in both of the forms with your donation list and send it in a SASE to Lakota Friends Circle. The High Horses will keep one for the organization records and then send the other back to you in the SASE.  If you have questions for them, make a list and ask yes or no questions, such as “Is this Useful?”  If you send a letter and get no response, please contact me here.  Thanks for your help and understanding and your generosity to the people of Pine Ridge. All material donations can be sent to the Lakota Friends Circle Wanblee address listed here.

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