Archive | May 2017

Wanblee Elder Center

Julia R. has been the manager of the elder center in Wanblee for the past 14 years and has seen many changes during that time.  She says the building is 40 years old, is owned by the elders and in need of many repairs. Since the building is owned by the elders and not the tribe they’re not able to get any assistance from them for maintenance and repairs.  Jerome says the community does get a quarterly stipend from the casino for the elders so is hoping some of that money can be used for some of their needs.

The floor needs replacing, lighting is outdated with many fixtures not working, doors and windows are in poor condition and they need a secondary interior door to prevent further heat loss when someone enters or exits the building.  The heat source is electric base board heaters and most aren’t working so they’ve been using a propane stove to warm the building on the coldest days which puts everyone at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, luckily the building is drafty.  Most of the elders don’t stay very long because the building isn’t warm and there aren’t enough chairs to sit down and eat their lunch or socialize.  The plumbing is old, the roof needs repairs and there are holes in the walls that need patching, fencing around the property is falling down.  Keeping the building tight is critical to save on heating bills and keeping rodents out that may carry the Hantavirus which can be fatal.

A local church group recently painted the interior but the color is a darker blue making an already dark building even darker which isn’t good for elders with vision problems.  Jerome recently received a donation of paint so if that turns out to be a lighter color maybe Youthworks could repaint the center as one of their community projects this summer.  They have one window air conditioner donated by Hearts of the Sacred Spirit but it’s not large enough to cool the entire building.  The cook stove has 6 burners but they have a problem keeping them lit and the oven often goes out which makes baking very frustrating.  Julia has to get on the floor and try to relight the burner which is extremely hazardous and puts her at risk for burns or worse.

The refrigerator is old and the temperature fluctuates from freezing food to not operating at all resulting in the loss of a lot of their food, they do have 2 freezers in good working order.  Their food is provided by the tribe but Julia must make the 200+ mile trip every two weeks to pick it up in Pine Ridge, each area has a budget so they can only pick up what they need for 2 weeks.  Jerome tries to supplement their food whenever possible from donations he receives from NAHA, the food bank in Rapid City, and Running Strong.  If Julia runs out of other items like food containers for home delivery, she has to make the long trip back to Pine Ridge so sometimes  it’s easier for her to buy supplies locally using her own money.  The tribe provides them with bleach and dish soap to wash dishes, there is no dishwasher.  Julia buys her own Pine sol, SOS pads and many other supplies.  They are in need of a new industrial size mop, the current one is falling apart and most of the “mop” has worn away to half it’s original size.

They currently have 2 small tables, 2 larger folding tables but only  8 chairs, and a small sofa with matching chair which means they can’t accommodate very many people at one time.   There are 90+ elders enrolled in the feeding program but they actually serve or deliver around 40 meals a day Monday through Friday.  Many elders live in the outlying areas and have no transportation so their meals are delivered.  They’re in need of many things for the kitchen and the rest of the building:

  • Cleaning supplies/paper products – Pine Sol/disinfecting cleaner, SOS pads/pot scrubbers. laundry detergent, liquid hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper.
  • Kitchen needs – Bread pans, cookie sheets, large roasting pan, large serving spoons, ladles, spatulas, measuring cups, etc.
  • Appliances – Warming/chafing dishes, electric frying pan, 2 or 3 large crockpots, heavy duty mixer such as KitchenAid
  • Plastic – large garbage, quart and gallon size Ziploc, carry-out food boxes with 3 compartments, small containers for soup and fruit, plastic cutlery, napkins, any plastic food containers with lids such as cottage cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.
  • Linens – dish towels and cloths, sturdy full size aprons, tablecloths (vinyl easily cleaned), cloth or paper napkins.
  • Dishes and silverware – currently they have no stainless cutlery of any kind or plates, coffee cups, bowls, etc.

We’re looking at ways to use carryout containers that can be reused and not end up in the landfill, please let us know your ideas.  The tribe does provide the plastic cutlery but if they run out Julia has to buy it locally.  Cloth bags could be used to deliver the food instead of paper or plastic but we would need to make those. Again, we need your ideas.

Julia really wants to get the building fixed up to look more inviting and welcoming so the elders can sit down and enjoy their lunch and stay around to socialize with friends and maybe play games or read.  One of our SFK members, Laurie A., is going out to the Martin youth center in May to set up a library/game center for the kids.  She would love to set up the same for the elder center, Julia said it would certainly be a welcome addition for the elders.  They need chairs (Laurie’s bringing some with her) for dining and additional seating and could use a couple of sewing machines for the ladies to use.  We look forward to receiving a full report on Laurie’s visit to the Rez and hopefully lots of pictures too.

The elder honoring party for women over 70 will take place this Sunday on Mother’s Day.  Male elders will have their turn to be honored on Father’s Day in June.  We had an overwhelming response to Jerome’s request for help with food for this party, a big heartfelt thanks to everyone contributing.  It’s a little late to be asking for gifts for the party on Sunday but their needs are ongoing and Jerome can deliver them any time.   He suggested Polident, Polygrip, denture containers, towel/washcloth, nail clippers, toiletry items, coffee and tea.  Not sure we would want to be honored with Polident but it is something they need and most can’t afford to buy it.  The same gift list is good for elder men too, please send your donations here.

If you would like to help the elders in Wanblee please join us as we try to make their center a little more comfortable and inviting for them.   Please share your ideas for the center and thanks for all you do.

Here is a very good article about the food situation on Pine Ridge,








May/June Project, “Bags and Bedding”

It’s time to begin a new project but those of you still in the sewing dresses and shorts mode….carry on……the kids still need your beautiful clothing.  Classes at Marty Indian School end on May 19 but they will remain open and accepting donations until the end of June when summer school ends.  Donations for the shelter and youth center in Martin and the Wanblee area can be mailed anytime.

May/June  Bags and Bedding

  1. Bags – Totes, Backpacks/school bags, pencil cases, toiletry bags, duffels, diaper bags, messenger bags and purses.  Make totes ahead to be filled later with school supplies, Christmas gifts, toiletries, etc..
  2. Blankets/afghans/quilts/receiving blankets – all sizes baby through full/queen size.
  3. Sheets – crib through queen size
  4. Pillowcases/pillows
  5. Bath towels and wash cloths.  Washcloths are a good project for our knitters and crocheters, sewers can make them from old towels or terrycloth.

Bags are needed in all three donation areas and are used to carry everything from school supplies to diapers. You can work ahead on backpacks/messenger bags and pencil cases, they won’t be needed until school starts in August, our project for June/July is “Back to School”.  Add small items like rulers, erasers, etc. to your pencil cases.

Rape victims have to surrender all their clothing at the medical exam and are given new clothing, undergarments, shoes and toiletries.  Shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, says they like drawstring bags the size of a pillowcase to put these items in and a small drawstring or zippered bag for the toiletries.  The filled bags are then taken to the Four Directions Clinic in Kyle and given to women after their exams,  Kimmie says they’re so grateful to get them.  Toiletry bags are also given out to kids in need using the youth center in Martin, students at Marty Indian School and to residents at the shelter.  Don’t forget to include any hotel sized toiletries you might have in your next donation box, they’re always welcomed.

Medium sized totes or diaper bags are great for the Bright Start program and for moms coming to the CDC toward the end of the month in need of formula and/or diapers for their babies.   Clothing, toiletries, sanitary pads, etc. may also be given out at that time if they have them.  Families leaving the shelter need laundry/duffel sized bags to hold their clothing and other items they received while at the shelter.  Since most come with nothing but the clothes on their backs, Kimmie gives each member of the family clothing, toiletries, etc.

Shopping bags/totes can be used in all areas as they can put just about anything in them including groceries, the Rez would love to get rid of plastic bags but need a replacement for them.  Holiday themed bags are great for Christmas gifts and teens love toiletry bags, makeup bags, purses, etc.  Drawstring bags are great for keeping kids toys together like blocks, puzzles, etc.

Blankets are needed everywhere by everyone on the Rez.  A blanket is given to each child coming to the shelter and also to women needing one when leaving.  We added blankets to our project schedule early so you would have plenty of time to knit, crochet or sew before they’re needed next winter.  They make wonderful Christmas gifts and people are always so grateful to receive a beautiful afghan or quilt.  Sheet sets are always in demand in sizes twin, double/full and queen.  The shelter can use crib sheets as well.   If your set doesn’t have pillowcases they’re a quick and easy DIY project.  We sent many pillowcases to Wanblee this spring so they have enough for now, but they’re still needed at the shelter and Marty Indian School.  Clients leaving the shelter are given their pillow/pillowcase so they constantly need replacing.

Towels/washcloths are always near the top on the list of needs for the Rez.  Towels are something many families don’t have or if they do, not very many.  In addition to needing one to take a bath, kids use them for swim class and their school athletic programs.  Clients sneak towels out of the shelter so Kimmie has to constantly replace them, but her budget is extremely tight and she doesn’t always have the extra money to buy them.  Baby towels with hoods are needed as well.  Gently used towels, sheets and blankets are certainly welcome in all areas.

Most of these needs can be found at summer garage sales, thrift stores or your own closet.  Ask family members, church members and neighbors for donations, with shipping costs constantly on the rise we have to find bargains where we can and free is even better.  Addresses for donation areas can be found here.  We’ll soon be sharing pictures of the beautiful summer clothing our members have made or bought over the last two months.

We thank you for your continued support and generosity to the people of Pine Ridge and Marty Indian School.