What’s New in Wanblee?

Last minute preparations are in process for the upcoming Easter party in Wanblee this Saturday.  Local volunteers and people from several other groups have been busy working together to make sure children and their families have a wonderful day.  Sew For Kids and Ravelry members have sewn lots of colorful pillowcases to go with the 100 plus new pillows that were sent for prizes.  Kids absolutely love pillows and they’re one of the most requested items from our donation areas.  Many others sent stuffed animals with the winning prize of that effort going to Ruth G. who shipped a 25 pound box!  Other prize donations from the Yahoo group Pine Ridge Elders and many others included several kinds of balls for sports, candy and cash to purchase food.  They’re hoping to hold the party inside the new partially completed community center with the egg hunt being held outside if the weather cooperates.  They will be serving hot dogs with all the fixings, chips, fruit/veggie cups and water to drink, any leftovers will be sent home with families in need.  A very special thanks to everyone that helped make this party a reality for the children and their families!   Here are last year’s photos.

The Wanblee voters have elected Jerome High Horse as their new Community Chairman.  They couldn’t have made a better choice, Jerome and his wife Theresa have both dedicated themselves to improving the lives of the residents in Wanblee and the outlying areas since returning to the reservation several years ago.  We wish him great success and offer our support in all his endeavors.

Jerome says inside work on the community center is moving along, although slower than he’d like due to inclement weather and waiting for water and sewer connections.  They do have electricity in the building which means they can now use the new refrigerator and freezers they recently purchased.  They’re expecting volunteers from a few different groups to come and help complete the interior of the building and are hoping to be finished by late spring or early summer.  Youthworks will once again return for service projects this summer and Jerome is planning to house them in the new building which will be much better accommodations than on the floor at Crazy Horse school where they usually stay.  Bob and Mary Epps, co-founders of Families Working Together , good friends of Jerome and Theresa and financers of the community building exterior, are moving from their home in Wisconsin to Wanblee and will have a temporary apartment at the end of the new building until a permanent home can be built.  Bob and Mary met Jerome and Theresa while working at Re-member and have since worked on many construction projects together so they make a good team.  Mary is a nurse and plans to do some educational classes at the center.

Recently a gentleman from Colorado brought a truckload of salvaged food for the community and is delivering another load this weekend. People were so happy to receive the food and the need was so great   that it was all given out within a few days of arrival.  Jerome and Theresa are hoping to set up a food pantry in the new building so they can help combat the hunger problem in the community.  They will be making a trip to Manderson next week to pick up food boxes from Running Strong and Lakota Friends Circle (our mother organization)will provide funds for gas so two cars can be used to pick up food and make deliveries to families without transportation.

Theresa knows our main focus is children but asked if we could please get the word out about the needs of their local elderly meal center.  They have 82 elders in the communities in and around Wanblee who are entitled to a free lunch.  Jerome and Theresa do get monthly food boxes for them from the food bank, but the elders need to get a good meal at the center on weekdays as most experience food shortages at home.  Elders in many households are taking care of their grandchildren and this lunch may be their only meal of the day as they tend to save what food they have for the children.  Many have no income to speak of and live on commodities which don’t last through the month but they are grateful to receive anything.  Food for the lunch is provided by the tribe but frankly, it isn’t very good, it could   be supplemented with food from the pantry once established in the new center.  Jerome can purchase food from the food bank in Rapid City for 18 cents a pound so is a good way to stock the shelves for any food needs that come in.  Once the community center is operational they plan to serve a daily evening meal for kids or anyone that’s hungry.  We’re crossing our fingers that the new administration will continue school and elder feeding programs but honestly, we’re worried about the future of food for our kids and elders in need.

The elder center currently has 2 tables and 6 chairs for seating but they would like to acquire more and make the space more inviting for elders wanting to visit over lunch.  Keeping elders engaged in social activities is good for their mental and physical health and a good way to check on them to make sure there are no serious problems.

Elder Center Needs 

  • Plastic cutlery and storage containers for food deliveries
  • Condiments, S&P, yeast, baking powder, sugar, sugar substitute.
  • Coffee and tea.
  • Garbage bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, food storage bags.
  • Cleaning supplies and dish soap.
  • Kitchen pots and pans and cooking utensils.
  • Cloth or paper napkins, cups and plates, eating utensils.
  • Kitchen towels, aprons, dish cloths and scrubbers.

The center has a few pots and pans but they’ve worn out over the years and need replacing.  For these or any of the other heavier items you can make a cash donation to Lakota Friends Circle and they can make one large purchase and receive free shipping.  All donations are tax deductible and you will receive a receipt from LFC.  Please send your donated goods to this address.

We would like to send out “Get Well Soon” wishes to Jerome High Horse who recently had shoulder surgery.  His doctors have told him to take it easy for a while but we suspect he won’t as there is so much work that needs to be done.  Hopefully he won’t pick up a hammer or saw right away and instead settle for directing his volunteers until he’s well.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids!




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