"Philamayaye (thank you). For your assistance of prayers, food boxes, gifts of sage/sweetgrass, and generosity," wrote a member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (Kul Wícasa Oyate). A card arrived at our office this month expressing many thanks. Because of our donors' support, we can assist so many during the COVID outbreak.
The month of February saw a much-needed reprieve from COVID infections on the reservations. Only two households requested food boxes, which enabled us to turn our outreach toward the promotion of healing. For Valentines Day, Native Hope assembled 214 elder packs with Northern Plains sage, sweetgrass, peppermint tea, honey, and a shell. We split the packets between the Kul Wícasa and the Hunkpatí Oyates. At the same time, South Dakota experienced frigid temperatures, and we gave 50 more space heaters to each tribe. These donations provided comfort for many in need.
To support our fellow Tiny DeCory and the BEAR program on Pine Ridge, we sent 200+ heart-shaped suckers with messages of encouragement from our supporters. These messages encourage youth to love themselves and each other. Because of COVID-19, teens are experiencing heightened depression and anxiety, causing more suicidal ideations and completions. The BEAR program has implemented a job training program for the teens in order develop skills for the work place. Native Hope granted this program $2,500 this month to fund this mission. Keep the youth of Pine Ridge in your prayers – this is more critical than ever.
Native Hope continues to provide snacks for the Lower Brule Boys and Girls Club (LBBGC). Each week their staff assembles a weekend pack for each of the 75 members, including an age-appropriate activity and snacks. They intend to remind the kids of those who love and care for them. Since last March, the LBBGC has been closed. Melissa Johnson, LBBGC director, works hard to develop creative ways to reach her kids. She hosts a weekly craft segment on Facebook Live and coordinates community contests and parades to give families hope. We enjoy our collaboration with the LBBGC and celebrate their efforts!
A unique opportunity to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education came last month when a donor sent us four RasberryPi computers. He had used the unique computers for a robotics project and wanted to pass them to a school or program. Immediately, we contacted Lance Witte, superintendent of Lower Brule Schools. Lance explained that his teachers are currently creating a robotics class for next fall, so the donation found a perfect home at the Lower Brule middle school! Philámaya, Dave Freeman.
The Lower Brule Drug Court (LBDC) is program on the reservation in need of support. When they reached out for assistance with care packages for participants attending drug and alcohol rehabilitation, we felt compelled to help. Items provided to for packages included a journal, a New Testament, a 12 Step pocket book, a pocket stone, sage, sweetgrass, a shell, and hygiene items. Dari Johnson, Drug and Alcohol counselor, accepted the items on behalf of the LBDC and plans to send the care packages this month. “We want them to know they are not alone,” explained Toni Goodlow, LBDC Drug and Alcohol Coordinator.
"Storytelling Heals" remains a crucial aspect of our work as well. This month, we published blogs written by Delwin Fiddler, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and Orlando Skidmore, White Mountain Apache. Both men share their interests and talents to inspire others. Also, we began shooting our "Stories of Hope" series again. Our first guest is Jama Bourne, a huntress and member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Currently, she works for the Crow Creek Tribal School in its IT department. Jama combines her passions for serving her elders and hunting to improve her community—we look forward to sharing her story next month.