Martin News Update

Days after our last blog was posted we received word Kimmie has received one of the grants she applied for. She put in 12 hour days for two weeks working on this grant and all her hard work paid off when she was awarded $30,000 to rehab the shelter inside and out and another $50,000 that will be used to help 15 clients from the shelter for a year as they transition to new housing. Most women and children can’t return to their previous abusive homes and don’t have the money to acquire new housing. This grant will help pay the deposit and first two months rent while clients look for work. Rent payments will decrease gradually over the next six months with the client assuming full responsibility thereafter. Clients will receive help with furnishings and other needs and receive education as they begin their new lives. Kimmie received the grant in person and while there was asked to serve on the board of the organization as they work to find solutions for homelessness across the country. She will be the only Native American on the board and if this project succeeds more funding could be available in the future. Congratulations Kimmie for all the hard work you do making life better for your people!

The garden project has begun at the youth center with 15 kids showing up to help on the first day, hopefully their enthusiasm continues. NAHA brought sunscreen in their last shipment so they’re asking kids to use it while out in the hot SD sun. Sun hats can be used and is a quick project for our sewers to make if interested.


Picnic tables and sun shelters are on Kimmie’s wish list for the shelter and the youth center. It’s a lot easier to get funding for the shelter than the youth center but she does get some money for the center from the casino’s allotment of monies to communities quarterly for youth, elders and families. It isn’t a lot of money but it helps . Thru Native American grants she has received help for specific programs such as her Isnati (coming of age) program for girls.


My Space Youth Center

Kimmie says the swimming program is a success and swim suits have arrived but they could still use more. Towels will be delivered this weekend when Laurie Allen makes her way to Martin from her home in Kansas. She gets donations of towels and sheets from hotels when they’re replaced and this is something we could all inquire about in our local communities. The kids will have to turn in their towels to the center before they leave so the stock should last for a while. They have a washing machine and dryer at the youth center so can wash the towels. Kimmie received money from the SDSU Extension office to buy swim passes for the kids but has gone through all those funds and there are still kids that want to swim but can’t afford the $25 for a pass. If you would like to help these kids join the fun this summer you can send your donations to Lakota Friend’s Circle and note your donation is for swim passes for the kids in Martin.

After swimming Kimmie says the kids come back to the center famished. She didn’t get funding for the summer food program she applied for but she did arrange for a bus to take kids to American Horse school where they can receive lunch on weekdays and many are using the program. Food needs skyrocket during the summer without the school provided breakfast and lunch so they are making sandwiches daily for kids at the center. Our fund at Lakota Friend’s Circle is growing and this month we put $100 on Kimmie’s account at the local DakotaMart food center and also added another $200 from donors requesting their donations be used for the youth center. Now Kimmie can shop for fresh food such as fruit, veggies, milk, bread, cheese and eggs at her local grocery. She gets the rest of the food she needs from the food bank in Rapid City for 18 cents a pound, unfortunately a round trip to the city usually runs about $200.

Kimmie said that 7 girls are participating in the Isnati program which starts this weekend and lasts for 4 days. A midwife came to the youth center this week to give a presentation to the girls about their bodies, birth control, STD’s, etc. before setting off for their ceremony. Kimmie has received more funding to continue this program which she feels is so important for the girls as many get little or no information about these subjects in their home environments. Mothers can also participate in the program with their daughters which can be an important bonding experience for them. For many years this ceremony wasn’t praticed but with the help of knowledgeable elders it is enjoying a revival, boys have a coming of age ceremony as well.

Current shelter and CDC needs are sports bras M-XL or regular bras in 34-38 in B through D cups.  Barb Reinert sent several dozen underwear to the shelter thru R.G. Riley. She wants to see the quality as would be a good source to help women and kids. Carol Austin makes underwear for the kids as have some of the other members Christine Widman etc  and the kids love them .

More women are coming to the CDC at the end of the month needing diapers, formula and toiletries. Kimmie is encouraging some of these women to use cloth diapers so needs diaper pins and plastic pants or other waterproof cover as well as cloth diapers. Kimmie doesn’t have disposable diapers for use at the shelter on a regular basis so will be using cloth ones there as well. The diapers can be made from old towels, T shirts, flannel, etc. Patterns can be found here or you can cut a 27 inch square  or a 27 x 20 inch rectangle from suitable fabric and finish the edges with an overlock or zigzag stitch. Tote bags are needed to hold the diapers and supplies. Pamela A and Deidra Q-H made some in the past for the shelter.


Laurie and her friend are making a whirlwind 2 day trip to the Rez this weekend to set up the library in the youth center and we’ll be sharing her photos and a full report soon. She has collected 300 books over the past year but more will be needed as we think of different ways to get books into the hands of mothers so they can begin reading to their children as infants. She will also make a stop at the elder center in Wanblee to drop off some items and meet Jerome.

Sewing supplies and fabric are needed for both the youth center and the shelter. Sewing machines will be delivered in early August when Janet S. makes her trip to the Rez, but if you have a machine to send they can always be used by women in the community. Thanks go to all those sewing dresses for the girls, wish we could see all those beautiful, smiling faces wearing their new dresses! Thanks to Margaret H, Joan Deaver’s group (Hands in Service), Lanetta Sprout and Janet S for the last group of dresses heading to the kids. More thanks to those sending all the beautiful summer clothing, shoes, bathing suits and toys for the kids. You’ve all helped make the summer months a little brighter and a little more fun!




There is always so much need in the areas we serve but we plod along, do the best we can and help when and where we can. Thank you all for whatever you choose to do. Donations for Martin can be sent here.


Wanblee, Martin and Marty School News


Our hearts have been heavy at SFK since hearing the news of the passing of several members of the High Horse family.  Jerome and Theresa lost a granddaughter, three great granddaughters including one due to be born in August, and a grandson in a car accident on May 27 five miles from Wanblee.  The fiancé’ of their granddaughter was also killed, their great grandson was the only survivor.  They had already been in mourning for the loss of Theresa’s sister and niece and Jerome’s sister who had all passed within the last two weeks before this tragedy.  The community of Wanblee is pulling together and they’re relying on each other to deal with their unimaginable pain and loss.  Sew For Kids and many other groups raised funds to purchase food for the wake which lasted two days, the funerals were held the following day.  Community member Monica, who received money to purchase and prepare the meals said, “Your unselfish, kind, timely contributions have made an unbearable situation easier.”  Any late donations and/or extra money will be donated to the elder center in memory of the lost loved ones.  Since the accident Wanblee has lost three more members of the community, one of them a 12 year old boy who hung himself.  The pain they’re enduring is just heartbreaking and hard to comprehend, we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family and the community at large.  Kimmie Clausen, shelter director and her financial director were related to the lost loved ones and are also dealing with the loss.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them as well.

Last month Jerome and Theresa High Horse hosted a Mother’s Day Celebration at the Kennedy Center to honor elder women from the community over the age of 70.  Other attendees at the event was the newly elected tribal president, Troy “Scott” Weston, and the vice president of Sinte Gleska University (SGU) located on the Rosebud Reservation.  Two elders received special recognition for their service to the community, Eleanor Charging Crow (Theresa’s mother) for her lifetime of dedication to the ambulance service on Pine Ridge and Marie Randall, who just happened to be celebrating her 98th birthday, for her continuing support of the local health, education and police departments.  Lakota Friends Circle collected funds to purchase food for the party with many donations coming from SFK, the Ravelry knitting group and Pine Ridge Elders.  Other members of these groups generously donated shawls, toiletries and other gift items for the elders.  Jerome thanked us for our support and help in making the day a memorable event for the ladies.  Elder males in the community will get their opportunity to be honored later this month on Father’s Day.

Our blog last month focused on the needs of the Wanblee Elder Center and since then SFK members and others have donated a new mop and other cleaning supplies, cutlery, plastic containers for home delivery of meals, coffee, tea, spices, kitchen linens, two electric skillets and many other things.  Someone has donated several tables to the center and SFK member, Christine W. has a friend that made beautiful table toppers for them.  Laurie A is still planning to visit Wanblee this summer and set up a library and game area for the center so please send your donations of books, magazines, games, word search and other puzzle books or anything else destined for the center to Jerome and Theresa  here  and they’ll deliver to them.  Thanks to everyone for your generous donations and Laurie A., please bring back lots of pictures from your visit to the Rez!


Although this group was formed to serve children on the Rez, the truth is many of them are being raised by their grandparents.  Elders volunteer their time in the community as foster grandparents at school reading to children and giving those in need a little extra TLC.  They  help make boxes for community families when Running Strong and NAHA deliver food, toiletries and other goods.  Elders are a wealth of information about the history and culture of the Lakota people and are vital for passing along their knowledge to younger generations. Whatever we do to help elders is directly benefiting children as well.

The school year has ended at Marty Indian school in Marty, SD and kids are starting their summer vacation unless they’re in need of help with some of their classes.  Summer school classes are being held at the local Boys and Girls Club through June and those attending will receive breakfast and lunch.  We worry about kids getting adequate food when school isn’t in session as most families are just getting by and without the meal program provided by the school it puts extra strain on an already meager household budget.  The Feather Store (blog here) stays open until the end of June and reopens the third week of August when the new school year begins.  During a recent phone conversation elementary principal, Gina Curran, said she felt the room parents and Feather Store programs we assisted with really helped make a difference to the students and their performance.  She reported the current overall average for Reading-1.2 year’s growth, Math- 1.4 year’s growth, both 1.3 year’s growth, the number of disciplinary incidences decreased by 50% and attendance was up to 92%.

Gina wrote this to me, “There have been times over the year where you ladies have saved a child more than once.  Just this week we were able to take a pair of brothers to the feather store to find shoes and clothes to replace their worn out ones.  The children were so surprised and thankful.  I had a grandma come to see me last week to ask if she could get undergarments for her grandchildren.  None of this would’ve been possible without your group”

We will continue the room parent program in the new school year with some modifications, this was the first year and was a learning process for all of us.  Most of the teachers are returning to their classrooms, some of our volunteers will continue as room parents but others are leaving to solely focus on the Feather Store so we’ll need some new recruits.  Those of you that like to work ahead and shop the sales can start looking for school supplies, clothing, shoes, warm clothing and outer wear, toiletries, towels, linens, toys, books and gift items the kids can “buy” from the Feather Store for their family’s Christmas gifts.  Kids earned over 15,000 feathers for good behavior, exhibiting Dakota values, etc. this year.  We’re coordinating with a staff member at the school on a sewing program for the girls/boys next year, more information in a future blog.  For the latest news and pictures from the school refer to this page of their website

Laurie Allen will soon be heading to Martin (and Wanblee) to set up a reading corner at the My Space youth center.  A big thanks to all the people that are already sending books to the center.  Martha Growdon, an independent consultant with Usborne Books and SFK member, has a summer book box program where you can buy books to send to your kids over the summer vacation to keep them reading.  She has set up an option for subscribers to donate $15 to help send books to the My Space youth center in Martin.  She also gets a “bonus” box of books from the company whenever she sells a book box so those books would also go to the youth center.  Thank you Martha for your efforts in getting books to the youth center!  For more information about this program and/or to make a donation please visit her Facebook page here.   More information about this program in an upcoming blog.  We would love to get books to the Bright Start nurses to give out when making home visits to new mothers so they can start reading to their children as infants.  Books could also be given out to moms visiting the CDC toward the end of the month when they’ve run out of diapers and formula.  We’re thinking of how to get books into the hands of kids that live in the outlying communities where they have no access to books so please send us your ideas.  Marty Indian school would love to have books for kids to “buy” in the Feather store for themselves or as gifts for family members.  For those of you sending books to the Rez, the most economical way to ship is via media mail using the USPS.

The shelter in Martin has been receiving lots of summer clothing which they share with kids in need at the youth center as well as needy kids in the community Kimmie’s aware of.  Others across the Rez know about Kimmie and the work she does so will call her for help with their clothing needs. Thank you all fro what has been sent in.  SFK started sending dresses to all our donation areas a few years ago when we had several members from Dress a Girl Around the World  join us.  These wonderful ladies sent a few dresses and the response was immediate, the girls loved them!  Well the rest of us were bitten by the dress bug and we’ve been sending dresses to the girls ever since.  Our members without sewing skills or the spare time to sew shop for ready made dresses and other clothing for the kids.  A lot of summer dresses have already been sent the past few months as pictured below and others are still on their way from Cyrilla H. and Joan D’s groups and we’ll share pictures of those dresses too if we receive them.  The dresses are absolutely stunning and we’re crossing our fingers that we get a few pictures of the girls modeling them!


Kimmie is getting free swim passes for the kids at the pool in Martin and needs swim towels and suits.  Laurie A’s daughter works at a hotel and gets used towels and sheets whenever they’re replaced with new ones.  Try asking your local hotels if they would donate their linens when replacing.  Angela B. and Donna S. are sending lots of swimsuits but they can still use more.  Wanblee has a pool  kids can use at Crazy Horse school so they can use towels and suits as well. And they too have been receiving dresses,  shorts and tops as well for their kids, thanks to all of you.   Kimmie laughs every time we ask if she needs towels because so few people have them and clients are always sneaking them out of the shelter when they leave.  Kimmie says they’re out of bras again at the shelter.  New and used bras in good condition are needed, sports bras in sizes 34-38C seem to be the most popular sizes but any size/type is acceptable.

Kimmie reviewed her budget for the Youth Center and discovered she only had enough funding to hire one person to oversee their programs.  She has recruited local volunteers to help and also has female elders working with the girls and their programs so she feels comfortable with just the male hire for now.   The siding on the center has been replaced as it kept blowing off and the kids painted the outside and are in the process of staining the deck.  Kimmie recently held a clean up day with the kids so they picked up litter from the center grounds and other areas as well.

Kimmie has applied for a grant to rehab the shelter and finish the rooms upstairs over the garage. She’s given up on trying to acquire funds from the Four Directions Clinic in Kyle that was set aside for a new shelter (which in all likelihood will never be built).  She also applied for more funding for the girl’s “coming of age” programs.  They need a few more sewing machines for use at the shelter’s sewing corner and a few for the youth center for the girls to use when sewing their ceremonial dresses.  Fabric, thread, ribbon, trim, and other sewing notions are always needed.

We want to extend a warm welcome to all new members at SFK.  We hope you’ll be inspired by our volunteers and the work they do and motivated by the stories of the children we tell.  Our current project is making/buying bags including toiletry, tote, messenger, book, diaper, etc. and blankets including quilts and afghans in sizes from baby to queen and sheets, towels, and washcloths.  If this project doesn’t appeal to you work ahead on one of the others for the year.  If you don’t sew or craft but still want to help the kids you can make a one time or monthly donation to Lakota Friends Circle  to help with emergency needs.  We’re currently using $75 a month to purchase perishable food items locally for the youth center in Martin and last month we sent much needed toiletries to the students at Marty Indian School.

Our goal at SFK is to do projects that move kids and families forward, not just giving handouts.  Since so many kids live in poverty on the Rez and come from dysfunctional families they have many basic needs that need attention before they’re able to move ahead.  We work with trusted and reliable members of schools, shelters, clinics and communities that can help educate kids and their families and provide them with basic needs donated by our group.  We want parents to have resources for their children such as diapers, clothing, basic toiletries, school supplies and books to learn, healthy food to nourish their minds and bodies and basic toys and comfort items to help them deal with the stresses they face every day.  We make a difference one child at a time. Kids need to feel loved and supported and if they don’t receive it at home then maybe they can get it through the programs of the organizations we support.   We thank you and the children thank you for your continued generosity and support!



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.




Updates for Martin Programs

It won’t be long until the school year comes to an end and kids begin their much anticipated summer vacation.  Some kids will be attending summer school, others will be going to camps paid for by non-profits that work on the Rez, and still others will be going to the youth center if they have transportation.  An advantage of attending some of these activities is the meals kids will receive which helps parents already struggling to feed their families.  Kimmie Clausen, Director of the CDC, women’s shelter, and youth center says she is now applying for the hot lunch program because of the generosity of SFK and the Ravelry group that donated funds to purchase a new cook stove for the center.  We began a monthly donation program in January and plan to allot some of the money collected to help purchase milk, eggs and other perishables for the youth center to help with their feeding program.  If you would like to join us by giving either a monthly or one time donation you can do so here.  Kimmie shops once a month at the food bank for both the shelter and the youth center but if attendance is high sometimes that food doesn’t last the entire month and the staff has been chipping in to help out although their salary is only $10 per hour.

Kimmie has hired a male director for the youth center and is still looking for a female director.  The new hire allows extended hours at the center 4-10 p.m. weekdays and 1-10 p.m. on weekends with longer hours expected after school’s out.  Hours had been cut over the past few months due to staff shortages but now kids are coming to the center in droves with the new hours.  They love to see kids using the center as they can provide a structured environment and supervised activities which helps keep kids busy and less likely to get in trouble.  Kids won’t just be surfing the internet or watching TV,  the South Dakota State University Extension program (Land Grant University) in Brookings.  is coming to help them set up raised garden beds and teach them how to maintain them.  Produce from these gardens will help feed the kids at the center as well as the shelter.  Many of the kids don’t especially like veggies as they haven’t had a lot of exposure to them at home so changing their eating habits is one of the goals of this project.  When we first started helping in Wanblee kids wouldn’t eat veggies either, but when they started serving fruit and veggie cups at all the parties there was quick acceptance and now fresh fruit is given in their goody bags at Christmas.  We anticipate the same acceptance with the Martin youth  and kids are more likely to try new foods if they grow or cook it themselves.  They’re planning to hold cooking classes very soon so aprons will be needed.  (hint)

The SDSU Extension program will also focus on teaching kids about how to keep their bodies healthy through proper eating and exercise and have already provided free passes to the local pool.  Swim suits are needed in sizes 0-12 for the shelter and up to age 18 for the youth center.  A special thanks to Angie B. and Sue S. for being the first generous members to send swim suits.   Some kids  are also getting exercise through tribal dancing which helps keep them in shape and gets them ready to perform at the Pow Wow’s held across the Rez in summer.  Kimmie has purchased a water cooler so kids can drink water instead of juice which isn’t good for any of us but especially a poor choice for those who have a genetic predisposition to diabetes.  The kids would love to go fishing and need rods and other gear so if you have any extra to donate they would be thrilled!

SFK member and librarian, Laurie A, is visiting Martin in a few weeks  to set up a corner library at the shelter.  In addition to books the library will have games and other activities so they could use donations of craft supplies, crayons, coloring books, puzzles, etc.  Carol B. will be purchasing bookcases for the new library.

Another SFK member, Janet S, is heading to the Rez in August to volunteer with Re-member to help repair homes.  She’ll be stopping by Martin on her way and deliver sewing machines and other donations to Kimmie for the youth center.  Kimmie said the girls have nearly finished sewing their dresses for the “coming of age” ceremony Isnati Awicalowanpi.  We’re thinking about sending sewing projects for the kids in kit form so they have everything they need to complete the project.

Kimmie is still working on acquiring some of the funds that had been allotted for a new shelter in Kyle (now postponed) to use for finishing the upstairs rooms, make repairs to the shelter, fence the property, and install a playground for the kids.  She’s currently behind schedule in receiving grant money from the justice department and is nearly $60,000 in debt, not good when you’re trying to operate a shelter and pay salaries but she’s hoping to receive a payment soon.  Kimmie is interested in working with the new emergency foster care center in Oglala that opened in February.  Barbara Dull Knife has donated 5 acres for a new facility to be built when funding becomes available.  She’s  also been working with Child Protective services, (LOWO) Public Health, medical personnel, and the tribe to set up a response team for people in crisis.

The shelter staff really isn’t equipped to deal with some of the tougher cases they get such as women addicted to meth or those severely abused.  They do the best they can but clients would be much served if they could go to appropriate facilities.  She is sending her staff for training in dealing with people addicted to meth as a few clients have come in under the influence and need to be isolated while they come off the drug.  If women are sent for treatment at another facility they need a safe place for their children to stay and if relatives can’t care for them the new foster care center in Oglala may be able to help.  The shelter readily accepts woman with their children but they don’t have the staff to care for children alone, child care is the mother’s responsibility at the shelter.  There are a few communities trying to set up safe houses for kids in danger and although the tribe may donate the house, they still need funds for operating expenses which is usually a huge stumbling block for any new facility on the Rez.

Kimmie is also director for the Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Martin which has received rural grants to repair the homes of 7 elders.  We really wonder when or if Kimmie sleeps as she’s the grant writer for all these projects.

Kimmie, along with other community groups, will be hosting a  human trafficking workshop, a community walk to commemorate missing women, assumed murdered, and holding a community event on domestic abuse.  There were 1500 cases of child abuse, neglect and domestic abuse in 2016, mostly the result of drug and alcohol abuse and living in crippling poverty.  The recent shut down of 4 liquor stores over the border in Whiteclay, Nebraska is hopefully a step in the right direction although there is a lot of work to be done getting people into treatment programs and providing education and job opportunities for residents.

Bright Start  has a new nurse so Kimmie will be going to Rapid City to meet with her and discuss the community’s needs regarding the program.  In exchange for Bright Start nurses providing educational programs to the Martin community about SIDS, parenting, vaccines, child care and development, etc. Kimmie gives them baby bags to give out while making their monthly home visits to new mothers.  These bags are made possible by donations that come, almost exclusively, from SFK and the Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”.

In other baby related news, SFK has been looking at the Baby Box program, first made popular in Finland and now spreading across the US, as a way to provide a safe sleeping alternative for babies and hopefully lower the rate of SIDS on the Rez.  The boxes come with a mattress and other items at no cost to the mother if she participates in an educational program.  Kimmie was provided with the information  and will be discussing it when she meets with the Bright Start nurse.  A special thanks to SFK member Diane G. for sewing several layettes for new babies.

We’ve been busy working on our summer clothing project and Kimmie reports receiving many requests from girls that received a dress from our group last year if they could please have another.  She said the girls were seen around town wearing them all summer long.  If you like to sew please join our members in making dresses for these lovely girls.   Many of the kids in the 5-12 age group coming to the shelter arrive dirty and are always wearing the same clothes so Kimmie has been giving them a bag with clothing and toiletries, most of the older kids have learned grooming skills and are usually clean and presentable.  Your donations don’t remain very long at the shelter because the needs of the community are so high.  They will soon be doing an inventory with help from community women on the TANF program and Kimmie plans to give them a bag of clothing and other items for their families.  She has an extra washing machine to put in the youth center but it will need to be monitored to make sure it’s only used by those that need it most.  Please send pictures of your donations and we’ll share them with everyone at the end of the month.  All donations for the Martin area should be sent here, scroll down to the Sacred Shawl address.

Thank you, as always, from Sew For Kids.  Please remember, each small donation, each act of kindness makes a big difference to someone in need.

We’re posting a map (click to enlarge) of Pine Ridge so you can see locations of the areas we’re helping, look for Wanblee and Martin.  The Bright Start program covers the entire Rez.  Map can be found here.



Good News For Some Rez Dogs

I  recently received  an email from one of our members who had called Jerome High Horse in Wanblee, about buying him parts for the saws that he uses to cut wood for families. On the call he mentioned that he needed some dog food and “Could anyone help?”

While dogs are not part of our Sew For Kids projects, many on our sites are animal lovers. Dog food was needed, after Jerome’s daughter  went to the dump to drop off some items and found 4 young, helpless and crying pups. Why they were there I am not sure,  maybe someone needed to dispose of them for lack of resources or maybe their mom left them there while out looking for food.

His daughter brought them home and asked her dad if he could feed them and care for them until they could find them a good home or find an organization that would find them a good home. Jerome only knew of an organization that came thru in the spring. He built a little enclosure to keep them in and bought some food as they were hungry. When I later called him, he said they were very young and needed some milk as well.

When I heard about the need, not yet having talked to Jerome, I contacted the organization  Lightshine Canine based out of Colorado and working alongside people on Pine Ridge Reservation, and other Reservations in SD, rescuing dogs in need. There are many stray dogs on the Rez, that need homes and many have been killed in the past by tribal round ups. People on the Rez asked the tribe to stop this inhumane practice. Last year this organization alone picked up 2800 stray or needy dogs.

In the past , I had a chance to talk with KC Willis, the Director of the organization,  and knew about their good work so thru messaging, asked her if she could help with this situation. Feeding 4 extra dogs was not something Jerome could afford to do long term.  She responded immediately to my message and promised to call Jerome. Within a matter of an hour, the Rez contact person picked up the dogs so they could be seen by a vet, vaccinated, later spayed and then given to organizations that would find them a loving home. The person who arrived to pick up the dogs, turned out to be a person whom Jerome High Horse had worked with in one of his old jobs. KC gave Jerome a phone number so that he could contact the organization if someone brought them a dog in need of help in the future. Jerome has kept many dogs in the past but is so glad now to have an organization that can help him if this occurs again. There are so many people needs to address, and that is his first priority.

Please check out this organization and see what they do. Consider making a donation to help them with their work.  I did. It costs money to feed and transport the animals as well as to pay their vet bills. Having visited the Rez, and having seen the animals, I know that this is a good cause  It is heartbreaking to see sickly animals, struggling  to survive in such adverse conditions.

Thank you KC and the workers of Light Shine Canine for helping the dogs. Your organization has made a difference to their lives and provided them a better future.

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!