by Bamm Brewer
All over the country one thing is for sure. It is winter, but on Pine Ridge Reservation it is a polar Ice Age!
There has been not only cold but also so much snow. 90 miles away in Rapid City there was hardly any. However, right here what I’m looking at seems like what I’d imagine Alaska looks like. It snowed and then blew and then snowed some more. Then on days when there was no snow forecast it started to snow again.
Friday night it began and I thought “Where’d this come from?” That snow Friday night would create slick conditions for our Mark Rilling’s scheduled food delivery. We drove to Martin that night and I thought we were doing something maybe we shouldn’t because I don’t like taking risks with the weather around here. All of a sudden the snow stopped. Roads were good but snow-patchy to Martin.
I talked to Mark the next morning and he was having such slow driving conditions coming from his part of the state that he thought he would be 2 hours late.
I gave Mark the road report from Martin which is where he comes through anyway. Meanwhile at the garage where he delivers the food workers were gathering and cars started pulling in with folks asking, “When is the food ready?”
It got hectic right off because there were big snow drifts on each side of the road coming into the garage. We had to do something because if we didn’t we’d be having traffic jams. A lot of people on the rez don’t carry insurance because they can’t afford it and could just back into you and be on their way. I called a guy with snow removal equipment over to clear the snow drifts out for the many cars and truckloads of people coming to get food.
While the snow remover cleared the big snow, Mark arrived and backed into the garage where the unloading started. It was on now. Most food delivery drivers were there so we had lots of help.
Webby Two Bulls got a pot of buffalo soup started outside over the open fire. It’s kind of like a day that we know is going to be a long one so we do everything we can to stay right there and get the food out the door and into homes. It is important to think this way for the freshness of the products we are delivering.
I don’t know exactly how they do it but the boxes are made up really fast. I think they all join in and build them. I go to the bank to get the gas money for delivery drivers and when I get back the boxes are usually being made. However, Mark was slower because of the snowy roads so yesterday I saw it all, and basically it’s just an experienced crew. They know the system! They all get involved and they are fast, and they do it in that order. It has become a production line system. Once the boxes are packed full, then the drivers start getting ready to back their trucks into the garage to load them.
Loading the boxes onto delivery trucks is where I like to slow things back down. We do a double check, making sure all that’s supposed to go in them is being put in them.
Then the loading of the boxes is kind of funny sometimes because the delivery trucks - especially Ashley’s - go out really stacked. This month she was so stacked it was all tied down like a huge bundle and looked like a serious shopper and away she went through the snow and cold, food loaded up.
Outstanding Mother Helper of the Month
Chiffon “Webby” Waters
A member of the Mato Ota Tiospaye from Allen, Chiffon “Webby” Waters showed outstanding determination during last Saturday’s Food Day. A former employee at Big Bat’s, everyone knows her by “Webby” or “Web” for short.
Webby came to the garage early with a big smile on her face looking to be a part One Spirit’s effort to end hunger because she wanted to help someone in need.
She has seen the struggles of reservation life herself and has found a light helping people through the One Spirit Food Program. So on Saturday she showed up with the youngest of her four children, Baby Angel Poor Bear, and was ready to sacrifice her day to lend a hand.
She was put in charge of the soup, making boxes, loading boxes and overseeing the loading in the back area. It would be a long day with people coming in and out of the garage all day. We kind of have to make it a quick lunch break when you get a slowdown of people coming in to get food.
The garage looked really like a place where something big was about to happen, and it was. The One Spirit Food day is a big production day and it is actually no longer just one day; it’s more like Food Week.
The guys got a fire going outside, and the flames would get that soup boiling for some hours. Webby made some Elk soup out of some of the Elk Burger in this month’s order. It turned out really good and that soup sure did a great job of keeping the crew energized.
Webby has been with us for a couple years and has even delivered food before. She stays right on her tasks of the day. We never have to ask her to do anything because she’s been here long enough to know our program. The sight of her working alongside her husband and little guy is pretty special. Baby Angelo enjoys running around the garage and everyone knows the little guy.
The Waters/Poor Bear family come from the Allen district and are part of the Mato Ota Tiospaye. After I observed Webby and family working in the garage all day for two days it came to me also that she has been a family “clean sober” with great strength of character. Webby also has a natural talent for giving a smile to our elders and folks in general coming in for food. Knowing that she has 3 more kids at home and no other job Webby worked all day alongside her baby son.
All of this gave me a smile knowing that One Spirit not only helps those people out across the reservation with food, but One Spirit also provides employment for some with no jobs and families in need. In a land where jobs are far and few One Spirit is once again on target. Providing a place even if it’s a spot job like a “Day Laborer”, to earn a little can sure make a difference for families around here.
On Food Day we especially appreciate people like Webby who come to get a job done and work tirelessly helping others all with a smile on her face. Thank you, Webby!