Today I had another long conversation with Sacred Shawl shelter director Kimmie Clausen about current needs and a progress update. Work on the shelter is moving ahead rapidly with the help of some youth workers who are in the community for the summer. Kimmie and her 3 assistants are busy with paperwork, safety inspections and all the other red tape that needs tending to before they can open. They’re hoping for an opening date of October 1 which can’t come soon enough for those in need, they’re already receiving calls asking if they can take someone. The shelter in Mission, SD, which is off the Rez, is filled to capacity and they looking for help. This shelter is so badly needed and Kimmie told me again how much they appreciate all our help.
Capacity of the new shelter will be 20 people once the 3 rooms off the garage are remodeled. The old shelter, Cangleska, has been closed for five years, sits vacant and has been vandalized. They chose not to use that building as they wanted to start with a smaller place they could afford to operate.
Kimmie said every day seems like Christmas with all the boxes being delivered. She said without our help she didn’t know when or if they would be opening. Those groups helping with shelter needs are: Sew For Kids, (operating under Hearts of the Sacred Spirit), Pine Ridge Elders, Lakota Friends Circle, For the Children of Pine Ridge (Ravelry group), and Halfknits Charity Knitting and Crochet Group. Kimmie has received monetary help from several women’s groups and other resources so utilities and rent have been paid for the next year, the next largest expense will be salaries for the 3 employees needed to operate the shelter. They are appealing to the tribe for some money for salaries and food while they wait to see if any of the grants, that the Director has applied for , come in. Women admitted to the shelter can bring their children up to age 16, length of stay will vary depending on their situation but generally less than 30 days. They will be responsible for keeping their rooms and public areas they use clean, respect others privacy, keep their appointments, care for their children, etc.
The following items are still needed for the shelter:
The new bunk beds (full bottom, twin top) arrived this week and have been set up. They found another twin bed and have 3 hide-a-beds, two queen and one king. They will need to find funding for additional beds when the remodeled garage is complete but for now the total beds are 3 twin, 2 full, 2 queen, and 1 king bed, each needing sheets, pillows and pillow cases, and waterproof mattress pads. They would like to have 3 sets of sheets per bed as they will be shared by all members of the family and kids have accidents. Each mattress and pillow will need to be enclosed with a bedbug proof cover which also keeps out dust mites, myself and Janet will be donating those. They have 2 smaller cribs and may get 2 more, Kimmie is getting exact measurements of those. Blankets are arriving and donors are still busy making more, this is an ongoing need as winters on the Rez are brutal and if they have extra will be sent home with those that need them. Bedroom lamps would be wonderful as rooms only have workshop type fluorescent fixture on the ceiling and if the kids need to sleep but mom wants to read a small light is ideal. Small wastebasket for the rooms would be great as well. They will need 7 for the bedrooms and 2 for the living spaces. They do have garbage cans for the kitchen.
Large serving/cooking utensils such as spoons, forks and ladles, paring knives, spatulas, scrapers and lifters, good can openers, vegetable peelers,strainer, pizza, cookie, pie and muffin pans, rolling pin. They would like to have another crock pot as women will be using their own food and cooking for their family at different times. Plastic cups for adults and kids, plastic baby bottles, utensils and plates for babies, all BPA free. A few more pots and pans are needed as well as plastic storage containers in various sizes. For now they have enough dinner plates, skillets and cutlery. They need a few more booster seats and 2 high chairs. Laundry needs are detergent (pod type), an iron and ironing board, and clothespins for hanging out laundry. The cheap clothes pins sold at dollar stores aren’t strong enough to hold laundry on the line in the strong prairie winds, at least the heavy laundry.
They can always use more towels and washcloths as they will probably have to send a few out with people leaving who have none. Baby washcloths and towels would be great for the smallest ones. Kimmie is so thankful for the ones they’ve already received! Cotton bath mats would be great as they can be tossed in the washer, non-slip mats for the tub and shower are needed too. Other needs are 2 small plastic garbage cans, and night lights for bathrooms and hallways. Flashlights would be great for power outages.
6 Smoke detectors and 2 carbon monoxide detectors were sent by a generous donor, they will need more when the garage remodeling is finished. They found 2 fire extinguishers in the house to use for now and they’re working on the exit plan in case of fire.
They would like another DVD player and DVDs for all ages, books for kids of all ages and adults, puzzles, games, toys, stuffed animals, craft items such as beads, art supplies, etc. Majority of the kids will be infant through 8 although there may be some up to age 16.
Two sewing machines have been set up in the family room so they will need sewing notions, quilt batting, fabric, etc. Kimmie hopes the women can start to make star quilts to sell and help support the shelter. Crochet hooks, knitting needles, yarn and beginners “how to” books.
Pantry – toiletries – supplies
These things are always going to need replacing so consider adding to your box if you have room: Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bath soap, hand sanitizer, baby wash, diaper cream. Paper products – toilet paper, tissues, sanitary pads, diapers and pull-ups, wipes. Cleaning – laundry pods, garbage bags, dish soap, liquid hand soap, pine-sol type cleaners. Supplies won’t just be handed out when families arrive, they will have to ask if they need something as they are on a tight budget and need to use their resources wisely. For now they feel the laundry pods, while more expensive, will be the easiest to hand out and prevent wasting liquid detergent by improper measuring. The pods will be kept in a locked area so no chance of a child ingesting. We’re hoping in the future to convince them to make their own detergent. Pantry items – peanut butter, tuna, canned meat, dried beans, rice, mac and cheese, oatmeal, etc. Tools – hammer, screw driver set, nails, pliers, etc. We have a donor sending some of these.
They have no PJs and slippers so this will be one of our September projects. Socks and underwear (new only), shoes/boots, warm winter gear such as hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, coats, hoodies, fleece tops and pants. Winter items will be another one of our upcoming projects. Clothing for babies and young children are still needed. Bibs of all sizes for up to age 3 , burp pads and receiving blankets are needed . Baby blankets are needed to bundle up kids in cars, and to cuddle babies in mom’s arms. Sleepsacks are great for the kids ages 0- 24 months and are especially needed for ages 0-12 months as that is what goes over the sleeper . No blankets are to be in the bed at those ages to decrease the SIDs risk for the babies. There is a high incidence of SIDS on the Indian Rez. Sleeping in a crib with no toys, pillows or blankets and sleeping on their backs has reduced the number of cases of SIDS across the nation. The babies use the blankets when moms are watching over them .
Well those are the latest needs, we’re hoping once they open and get situated the list will be a lot shorter, mostly just replacing ongoing needs. The next blog will focus on what our SFK volunteer facebook group has been doing this past month, introducing a “comfort bag” project for kids entering the shelter and what we’ll be doing in August for the Wanblee Community.
Thanks for your big hearts and continuing support of SFK! The address for the shelter is here. Please scroll down the page to find it. Monetary donations are accepted on their site or you can mail in a check. Please note on your donation that you want it to go to the Sacred Shawl Society. Thank you .