A New Month and a New Project

Where do the days go, it always seems during summer they pick up speed and fly by even faster.  Jerome and Theresa are busy with various projects around the community taking advantage of all the volunteers that show up to help each summer.  Since there isn’t a lot of spare time to process shipments we’re giving them a break and working on projects to be shipped later, back to school clothing and supplies, cold weather gear and even Christmas gifts.  The SFK Volunteer group is having a skirt and shorts sew-a-thon so kids will have a nice outfit to start school.  They are scouring thrift stores and department stores shopping for just the right shirt to complete their outfit.  Come on over and join us as we work on projects together, share ideas and patterns and make new friends.

In the meantime we’ve learned of a new women’s shelter opening soon in Martin, SD (not too far from Wanblee) called the Sacred Shawl Society (501c3), a program of  Wild Horse Butte CDC .   Community Development Corporations or CDC’s were formed across the Rez in the nineties to develop the most poverty stricken areas, Wild Horse Butte serving the LaCreek district is the only surviving CDC.  Please visit their website to learn more about their work of providing affordable housing and access to health care to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  Recent figures report PRR is short about 4500 homes which explains why it’s not uncommon to find 20 or more people living in a 3 bedroom house.

The Sacred Shawl Society was formed in direct response to the overwhelming need for services related to domestic violence/sexual abuse so prevalent across the Rez.  Please read more about them here and visit their facebook page for updates. Kimmie Clausen, Director and two staff members will be overseeing daily operations of the shelter.  The  shelter is located in a building provided by the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority located just across the border from Martin.  The property also has a two car garage they’re planning to remodel into additional bedrooms making the shelter capable of housing up to 8 families at one time.  This will be the only shelter on the Rez since Cangleska closed about 5 years ago due to financial difficulties.  Women have been sent off the Rez to safe houses which adds further trauma as they’re removed from the care and support of family.

The building’s lease has been paid for a year by a generous donor and utilities have also been paid for by another generous donor.  Kimmie has applied for a 3 year grant to pay for the day to day operations and employee salaries.  The women and children can never be left alone so employees will have to be present around the clock.  At present funds are being provided by a few small grants and from organizations and individuals that support women’s issues, they’re also looking for energy assistance. They’re hoping to get some donations from NAHA (as do the High Horses) on a monthly basis.  NAHA brings whatever they have on hand, requests for certain items can be made but there are no guarantees it will be provided.  Since they’re operating on a shoe string at the moment and don’t have a funding source for food women will have to use their SNAP cards. They will need some help to stock their pantry as women coming in won’t have food with them and since they’ve been traumatized it might be a few days until they’re well enough to shop for food if they have any food stamps left to spend for the month.  The health clinic is very close to the shelter so women and children can receive medical care for injuries including rape and can also use the counseling services.  They’re hoping to hold parenting classes, teach money management and encourage getting GED’s so they can go on to college which is possible through PELL grants and TANF.

Kimmie says she also needs women to help each other, watching each other’s children when they have court appearances, medical appointments or just need some alone time without the stress of children.   Women can stay at the shelter for up to a month and won’t be sent back to their abusive situations.  Children will attend school and have the option to go to the school they usually attend or the local school in Martin.

So we can help them get those doors open by providing items, some must have’s and some that are on their wish list.  The building came with a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave and coffee pot and they recently acquired a freezer that will do for now.  There are no furnishings so they’ve been going to garage sales and thrift stores trying to find the basics.  They have found some furniture but still need double beds, dressers, book shelves, lamps, cribs, high chairs, booster seats, pack and play’s, etc. they can get car seats from the Public Safety Department on the Rez.  If you happen to live in the area and have any of these items please contact the director.

Everything has been given a fresh coat of paint, most of the living area is in shades of beige, there’s a pink and a blue bedroom with matching carpet and the kitchen is decorated in shades of red.  They want the space to look welcoming and inviting so families will feel comfortable and safe.  The two bedrooms have a bunk bed in each, full bed on bottom and twin on top and will try to put a crib in each room if they get donations.  The living area has a hide a bed couch, chair, TV and a small table for the kids with some toys and books, there’s also a quiet room with a desk and computer.  There are 2 decks but only one is usable, they could use some lawn chairs and a small eating table. They do have a nice lawn so will need a lawnmower and the Director plans to put in a vegetable garden next year. Plans for the future are a playground for the kids with swings, slide, and a sandbox. Below is a list of needs, some will need replacing as they wear out or are given to families on their departure.

Clothing – Many women arrive at the shelter with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing so clothing for kids, babies and adult women are needed in various sizes – sleepwear, underwear and socks (new only), pants, shirts, hoodies, shoes, etc.  Coats and other cold weather gear for winter which will most likely leave with the recipient so will be an ongoing need.

Kitchen – Potholders, dishcloths, dishtowels, dish soap, scrubbers, bottle brush, spatulas, large spoons and forks, sharp knives, measuring cups and spoons, silverware, good quality can openers, cloth napkins, tablecloths (when we get table size), plastic drinking glasses, coffee mugs, pots and pans especially some skillets, bake ware, tea kettle, clock, plastic storage containers, garbage bags.  Make sure all plastic donations are BPA free.

Bathroom and toiletry needs – Bath towels, washcloths, hand towels, toilet paper, tissues, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, combs and brushes (new only), nail care items, hair dryer, sanitary pads, shower caps, razors, soap, washable cotton bath mats, toilet brush. The 2 showers have glass doors and one of the bathrooms has a tub for the kids.

Bedroom –  Flat and fitted sheets for full and twin beds, pillowcases, pillows, blankets, afghans, quilts, mattress pads (waterproof is best), and pillow covers.  Zippered covers that totally encase the mattress and box springs are especially desirable as children are bound to have accidents and bed bugs won’t be able to cross the barrier and get into the mattress.

Toys – for various ages – trucks and cars, dolls and accessories, play dishes, blocks, Legos/Duplo’s, board and card games, puzzles, paper, coloring books, crayons, glue sticks, safety scissors, colored pencils, pencils, play dough, paint sets, stuffed animals, etc.  They currently have very few toys.

Outside toys – balls, sand box toys, frisbee, skipping ropes, hula hoops, bean bags, chalk for hopscotch, etc.

Living room – throw pillows, small afghans and quilts, books for all ages, DVDs for adults and children.

Safety equipment – general purpose fire extinguisher(s), smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and batteries for all of the above, night lights.

Baby needs – sleepsacks, sleepers, onesies, baby clothes in various sizes and seasons, bibs, burp cloths, baby blankets, baby towels and washcloths, diapers in all sizes and wipes, diaper covers, diaper cream, plastic baby bottles (BPA free) and nipples for various ages

First Aid Kit items – band aids, antibiotic cream, gauze, tape, thermometers, alcohol swabs, peroxide, anti-itch lotion, etc.

Laundry –  laundry soap, fabric softener sheets or liquid, stain removers, sturdy clothes pins, those from the dollar stores break easily in the prairie winds sending the clothes flying, laundry baskets.

Pantry items – Coffee, tea, coffee filters, creamer, sugar, flour, baking soda and powder, salt, dried milk, sugar substitute, peanut butter, canned tuna, salmon, and chicken, hot chocolate, boxed mac and cheese, rice, dried beans, dried fruit, macaroni, spaghetti, cooking oil, spices, yeast, crackers, canned fruits, vegetables and soups, oatmeal, baby formula and cereal, and large Rubbermaid type containers to use for canisters. These are things that can be stuck in the corner of a box of other items you may be sending.

Sewing notions –  SFK is sending out a sewing machine (maybe 2 if there’s room), thanks to Janet my co-administrator. Not only can they repair their clothing but several women make star quilts and they want women at the shelter to help make some to sell or raffle for the shelter.  Sewing is also therapeutic and helps keep your mind occupied so you can forget your troubles for a little while.  They will need quilting weight cottons in prints and solids, thread, sewing scissors, quilting rulers, muslin for backing, batting, etc.  This project is not an immediate need as they are still in the beginning stages of getting the center up and running but certainly a future project.  An iron and ironing board would be great as well as rotary cutters and all supplies.  Will have to ask if quilters on the Rez use them.

Lawn care – lawnmower,  folding lawn chairs

Office supplies – paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, copy paper, paper clips, etc.

This is a long list of needs but one that is doable if we all work together.  Please make sure your items meet our donation guidelines.  Kimmie, the shelter director, will update the site once she receives the things they need and will also let us know of current needs.  While we’re out shopping and sewing for the shelter Kimmie will be getting her forms lined up for admissions, fire inspections, and all the other red tape she needs to take care of.   We are not forgetting about Wanblee and our commitment to them, we’re just adding another area that really needs our help.  Thank you all for helping make this shelter a reality for the women and children on the Rez.  Please mail material donations here:

Via USPS (packages and letters)

Wild Horse Butte

Sacred Shawl Society

PO Box 488

Martin, SD 57551

Via Fedex/UPS packages

Wild Horse Butte

Sacred Shawl Society

401 5th Street

Martin, SD 57551

If you want a receipt for taxes send a list of your items and a copy for the organization with a SASE and ask them to sign that it was received and have it sent back to you. Monetary donations can be made at the site through PayPal or a check mailed directly.  Make sure you indicate where you want your donation used.

Thank you all for your continuing support and dedication to improving the lives of families on Pine Ridge!


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