School has already begun in many areas across the Rez although some parents are still registering their children and that process may go on for several weeks as they try to find clothing and school supplies. Many kids depend on the two meals provided by the school and eat as much as they can because they know there may be slim pickings when they get home for dinner. Our group along with many other groups have provided some school supplies and clothing to get the kids off to a good start. Thanks to Donna, Carol, Deidra, Stacy, Deanna,and Beulah and others for making/purchasing school bags and pencil cases, the kids were thrilled to receive them. Dresses made by Carol A, Pat S, Angela, Kerry, Lisa ,Joan and her group, Cyrilla,and her group,and Deanna and others I have not mentioned were also a big hit with the girls and made them feel really special. Most kids will have outgrown clothing and shoes worn last year and if in decent condition will be handed down to their siblings. Several of you sent in shoes , new and used in good condition, , thank you Janet, Penny, Deidra and Crystal, Carol etc . The kids got to try them on and choose a pair, just like they would in a store. Socks and underwear have also been sent. August and September are the months to focus on back to school needs which includes underwear, socks and shoes as well as school supplies and clothing. The needs are great so those of you still working on projects or collecting school supplies can send them at any time to any of our project areas. Now on to the news!
In the Martin community Kimmie Clausen, Director of CDC, Sacred Shawl Society and the Youth Center, identified 40 families in great need of clothing and other supplies to get their children ready for school. Thanks to the generosity of Sew For Kids, Lakota Friends Circle and the Ravelry group, “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and Pine Ridge Elders, Kimmie was able to share some of the surplus of things sent to the shelter with these families so their children could start school on time. There was still plenty of clothing left to fill the needs of women and children arriving at the shelter, which is a testament to how generous our donors are. Parents submitted a list and the staff gave each child a few outfits if they had their size available. Kimmie kept some of the school supplies you sent for the after school programs at the youth center and the rest were sent to the Martin school.
The My Space Youth Center, located in the Martin housing project, will be open from 4 pm to 10 pm on week nights and 10 am to 10 pm on weekends. Currently Kimmie is using volunteers from the community to staff the center when it’s open and pays them a token $25 a day for their time, but she is applying for grants so she can hire a youth center program coordinator which will make her life a lot easier. After school is over kids can come to the youth center for a snack and then get help finishing their homework provided by college tutors needing to earn community service hours. Having access to the internet, thanks to Kimmie’s efforts and the grantor, will certainly simplify the homework process. Kids having a place to go with electricity and heat is a plus for those living in rural areas or in homes where bills haven’t been paid, they won’t have to work under a lantern or candle or crawl into bed early just to keep warm in a cold house. After homework is finished kids will each spend an hour reading or having someone read to them. Thanks to Laurie Allen, 3 bookcases recently made their way to the youth center and books from various donors soon followed. More are always a need. Someone in the community donated a theater quality popcorn machine so the kids can eat a healthy snack while they read or hang out. They have enough popcorn for now thanks to some generous donations but buying the oil has been an expense they really can’t afford. Barb Reinert came to their rescue and sent enough popcorn oil to last for a while and she also sent 2 waffle irons which can be used to make sandwiches and other things too. Thanks Barb, Kimmie can’t wait to try them out! The center recently received a new cook stove thanks to the efforts of Anne, Irene, Karen and Carol, now they can have a hot meal ready for the kids and they can also teach them to cook and bake as well. Some of the kids have already been baking cookies to share with everyone in the center. We might want to think about making some aprons in the future to keep those school clothes clean. Kimmie asked the kids what they wanted her to prepare for the first meal on their new stove and the decision was unanimous, spaghetti and meatballs! Generous donors in our groups have sent plates, cups, cutlery, cooking utensils, pots and pans, a coffee pot and coffee, food, paper products, and the list goes on. Thank you all for helping make the center an inviting place for the kids. Kimmie is attending a required conference this week, but when she returns she’ll be taking an inventory of the youth center to see if anything is still needed.
The shelter has been busy and Kimmie finally, after many months of untold stress, has received her first 3 month installment from the Department of Justice grant they were awarded which totals $475,000 over the next three years. The funds were tied up in the tribal Department of Public Safety and Kimmie has requested a monthly meeting with officials so this funding issue, that almost closed down the shelter, doesn’t happen again. They desperately need to keep the shelter open as this is the only shelter for domestic abuse/rape on Pine Ridge Reservation. While receiving this grant is a blessing, $125,000 per year still isn’t enough to run the shelter, $200,000 is needed to cover basic operational costs each year. They’re hoping to get a $100,000 grant from NOVA but that will take a while. The only reason the shelter has been able to remain open is the receipt of a some smaller grants in the $5-10,000 range and all the generous donations of everything from food and clothing to cleaning supplies that you’ve sent in, for which there is no budget. Kimmie is so thankful to each and every one of you who has helped make the shelter a reality and for all your efforts to ensure that it stayed open.
One of the big expenses for them has been travel expenses (gas), getting women and children to the shelter from violent homes, to court appointments, to Rapid City for documents, making food pick ups in Rapid City, etc. Staffing is another expense and they really need to hire another person so Kimmie doesn’t have to cover weekends at the shelter. Food is another major expense, despite getting food from the food bank in Rapid City at 18 cents a pound, they still have to drive 2 hours to pick it up and not everything can be purchased there. Food items such as eggs, milk and bread still have to be purchased at local stores in Martin. They’re feeding the shelter residents and the kids at the youth center where as many as 60 hungry kids can show up, so they’re struggling a bit to cover that cost. Fortunately the school breakfast and lunch programs are functioning again so an afternoon snack is all they need to provide on week nights, the weekends are a different story.
Kimmie has been delighted to receive office supplies from Diannah Perez and the company she works for. Those supplies have been split between the youth center, the CDC and the shelter and has saved them about $250. A Big thanks to Diannah and her employer for that gift! Dolls, doll clothes and doll furniture have been sent to the shelter thanks to Penny Nickols, Kerry Robertson, Ruth Gates, Deanna Williams, Jill Santiago and many others. Much needed baby items continue to come in and a special thanks to Christine Widman who sent a 52 lb. box of goodies for babies 0-2 years this past week, great not only for the shelter but also the clinic and Bright Start program. The shelter has used a lot of diapers lately and thankfully have received donations to restock the smaller sizes. The last several kids wore size 5 diapers so they need that size replaced. The shelter has joined the Jet program but they don’t have a credit card (due to the uncertainty of funds) so for now can’t order through them. They do use cloth diapers but still need to have some disposables on hand when things get hectic at the shelter or kids head off with their parents for appointments. If you wish to donate diapers to the shelter you can send them here or can send money to the Sacred Sacred Shawl Society for that expense.
Women who arrive at the shelter with their children are required to send them to school if they’re going to be there more than a few days. Buses from all over the Rez will pick them up and take them to the school they’re registered in. This helps keep the noise and activity level down and saves on food costs at the shelter and also provides a normal routine for kids coming from abusive homes. Kids being in school also allows time for staff to work with women who need to get to court, go to parenting or conflict resolution classes, to the clinic if they have health issues, and to work on housing options when they’re ready to leave the shelter.
Back to school time for kids in Wanblee means going to their local school, Crazy Horse, or traveling to schools in Kadoka or Kyle. Jerome and Theresa made a trip to Manderson to pick up shoes, backpacks, school supplies and other items from Running Strong and while there received a call from the food bank in Rapid City to come and pick up a shipment of free food. Lakota Friends Circle paid for transportation costs using money from a $1500 food grant Director Anne Fields had won from Walmart at the beginning of summer. The grant also provided monies to feed over 120 elders a nutritious breakfast at the local Pow Wow. Additional school supplies for kids have been donated by NAHA. Many of our members sent clothing and school supplies to Wanblee so the kids would be ready for school
Lakota Friends Circle is looking at possible fundraisers to help purchase freezers and refrigerators for the community center when completed. Once the building is enclosed and they have the appliances in place, the food bank will deliver the food to the center saving the traveling time and expense of picking it up in Rapid City. This setup would allow them to keep food in storage for those needing it later in the month and also gives them the luxury of delivering food to individual homes the next day instead of the same day they pick it up as is being done now. Some of our donors have sent many other things they thought could be used for the programs that will be held in the community center once finished. Jerome and Theresa High Horse no longer have tenants in their basement so they do have room now for some storage. Blankets, warm clothing and other necessities for winter should not be sent just yet and please don’t send Christmas gifts unless you have no space to store them in your home as there is no guarantee they will be there when the season arrives. They are still experiencing warm weather on the Rez so spring and summer clothing can still be used for a month or more. Kids attending Crazy Horse school in Wanblee have access to a swimming pool so swimsuits and towels are welcome. Kids can swim in the pool on weekends with family members and also after tutoring sessions during the week.
Youthworks volunteers have gone home until next year, the teens had a great time and were very helpful to Jerome and the community. After many issues with electrical installation, sewer and plumbing, framing is now in the process of being built for the community center and hopefully they’ll have the building enclosed by late September or early October before the snows come. Thanks to the donation from Mary and Bob Epps from Families Working Together, they will have the building structure in place. They have a contractor doing the outside work but Jerome is looking for volunteers to help with the inside construction to save money. Once the center is up, programs will be planned and they will need supplies for the soup kitchen, sewing center, tutoring program, and sports equipment and games for entertainment. They are still seeking grants and donations to finish the inside work. If you want to donate to the build, you can send money to Families Working Together. If you wish to make a donation towards future fridges and freezers, you can send money to Lakota Friends Circle. Both organizations are a 501 c3 non profit so donations are tax dedcutible. Please indicate what you want the money used for. Here are some photos that Jerome took of the building site.
Our elementary school project in Marty, SD got off to a good start. Our group has been making or purchasing school clothing and many other things to get the kids ready for school which began August 22. School principal, Gina Curran, moved a new shelf into the Feather Room to hold all the new donations coming in. Thank you Laurie Allen for sending storage bins to the school to hold all the surplus. Clothing arrived and all the girls in the 4th grade class received a new home sewn outfit of a skirt and top, they were amazed that someone actually made them. Room parents (SFK volunteers) have been set up for kindergarten through 5th grade with 2 members helping in each class and plenty of others waiting in the wings to help if needed. They will be helping with school supplies, snacks, toiletries, books, special class project needs and some fun things for holiday class parties. We’ll be posting news from each class and the projects they’re working on so we can all share in this new experience for Sew For Kids. Gina Curran told us about a Kindergarten student they found crying in school and when asked why he was so upset, he said because he was still hungry even though they had just finished lunch. Once again our generous SFK members to the rescue, they had some snacks recently sent in by you so were able to give him a little something extra to get him through the rest of the day. Many children experience food shortages at home so nutritious snacks that can be kept in the classroom or sent home with children at risk are always needed. Students needing help can go to the local Boys and Girls Club after school and receive tutoring from two teachers provided by the school. Summer school is also held there with teachers provided by the school. Here are some photos provided by Gina Curran.
Well now you’re all up to date with the news from the Rez and the Marty Indian School. We have so many talented people on our site to thank and so many generous people who have supplied the other needs that sewing just can’t take care of. We’ll be sharing more about these wonderful people in our next blog. Please join us on our very active Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook group, or our Sew for Lakota Kids Yahoo group.