Along with the heat, August delivered several opportunities to support our relatives on local reservations and in schools. While COVID-19 has altered many of the typical August festivities around the start of a new school year, it hasn’t decreased the excitement children and families feel about a fresh start. Our partners, supporters, and friends continue to provide the assistance needed to offer supplies and more.
COVID relief for those affected
The Native Hope team continues to support those tribal members who contract COVID-19 with groceries, hygiene, and cleaning supplies. Additionally, each week we deliver snack items for 70 children to the Lower Brule Boys and Girls Club. These items are distributed by their team along with educational activities every Friday.
Other requests fulfilled this month included the need for Native American medicines: Bear Root, Sage, Bitterroot, and Flat Cedar. The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe [Hunkpáti Oyate] distributes these medicines to those with COVID-19 to make teas and for smudging.
Finally, the needs of the elderly cannot be ignored, so when we were asked about purchasing adult diapers, we were happy to help. Diapers and other hygiene items are often expensive for people on a restricted budget, so elders often go without. We hope we can continue to assist with these and other invaluable supplies.
A new school year means a need for school clothes
On August 13, our friends from PAZA – Tree of Life gathered children’s clothes from their area on the East Coast and arranged an Angel Flight. Dan, the pilot, landed in Chamberlain, SD, with several boxes of gently used children’s clothing and toys. Our team sorted and delivered the donations to the Hunkpáti Oyate and the Lower Brule Boys and Girls Club. Our connection with PAZA and Angel Flight NE proves that when non-profits work together, the support for those in need greatly improves. Thank you, friends!
Masks are also a must this school year! We have shared with you the efforts of our supporter Dawn Haggard, Illinois, who has been making masks for Native American communities and U.S. veterans since the beginning of the pandemic. In April, Dawn asked me how many people live on the local reservations, and I told her over 2,000. Her response was “I will do what I can.”
At the end of August, Dawn relayed that she had broken the 2,000 mark! Her latest batches of masks have gone to the students of the St. Joseph Indian School and Chamberlain Elementary School.
Helped to welcome kids back to campus at St. Joseph’s Indian School
When Native Hope received an email from our sister organization, St. Joseph’s Indian School, about welcoming students back to campus with a “Welcome Back Walk,” we were ecstatic to participate, and to able to show our joy for the students returning to campus for the school year. COVID-19 has presented so many challenges for us all but St. Joseph’s has been able to overcome and be creative with their COVID return plan. In the past, we were able to line the hallways of the school to help the students feel welcomed back. But, as much as we all want to “return to normal,” we can still be there and support them— in a mask-wearing, social distancing way.
As we joined their staff and lined the sidewalks of the campus to welcome the students back to campus for the school year, excitement, friendly waves, loads of smiles, frequent giggles, and positive energy pervaded. It was an inviting atmosphere for all and wonderful to see so many smiling, mask-wearing, faces not only of those from students but also all the staff showing support and helping to welcome back the students for another year of learning!
The Native Hope staff enjoyed taking part in the festive parade.
Lending a helping hand to a friend in need
August also brought an opportunity to spend one Saturday morning helping a friend. In June 2019, Lyle Miller, Sr., lost his home to a house fire. He, his children, and grandchildren lost everything. Lyle worked diligently with Habitat for Humanity of
Mitchell, SD, and was chosen the recipient of a Habitat home. The project started in the spring of this year and is moving along quickly.
On August 22, I joined him, his son, and his grandson along with other volunteers to work on his new home. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment it was to work alongside Lyle and visit about where his artwork will hang and which grandchild will live in this room or that room. That morning we wrapped the house in plastic, readying it for the student roofing crew from Mitchell Technical Institute. Lyle’s home will be ready for him in the spring of 2021. Thank you, Lyle, for the awesome experience.
Yes, August brought the heat, but the heat warmed our hearts with so many opportunities to serve!
Wóphila Tȟáŋka for keeping Native Hope and those we serve in your heart and continuing your support.
Together we are making a difference in Indian Country.