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The ONE Spirit sponsorship program includes children, elders, and families and a food co-op program (Project SHARE) that delivers fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables to homes on the reservation. As a sponsor, you can give a child or elder protection from cold and hunger and get to know a Native American family. You can learn about their culture and develop a mutual understanding of common needs and values.
People who sponsor the children, elders, and families come from all over the US as well as from England, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Singapore, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, and Scotland. Some sponsors are single individuals, some are families, and some are groups of people who combine their resources to be able to help. Some folks are able to sponsor a family and some sponsor one individual, either a child or elder. Some people provide a partial sponsorship. One of our senior sponsors shops for food bargains and sews children's clothes, quilts and sleeping bags to send to families. Some groups knit and crochet and send the items to families who need them. Some people prefer to make a donation to the program, knowing that the money will be used to meet the urgent needs of the Lakota people. At present we have 500 sponsors. We also have over 900 children and elders waiting for sponsors.
The mission of the Sponsorship program is to:
Sponsors help to provide clothing and food, through project SHARE. Other funds
are used to help families with heat and urgent needs they are unable to provide
for themselves or through tribal and government programs. On the Pine Ridge
Reservation, most families will have periods of time when they are without heat
or electricity and, even more difficult, periods when they are without food.
Government food programs are not designed for sharing societies. The Lakota people believe in (and practice) sharing. Families share what they have with family, relatives, and neighbors. Those that are eligible for food stamps (EBT) and commodity programs also share with others. This means that food runs out or is in short supply long before the next government allotment.
One family is a mother and three children who live in a small house in one
of the outlying areas of the reservation. They get their water from a well and
often the mother has to choose between having adequate food or buying propane
for heat. The mother is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Business from the
Lakota College. The college is several miles from her home and she has to either
walk or hitchhike to classes since there is no public transportation. She is
an advanced beader and is able to have a small income from selling her crafts
but it is not sufficient to meet household expenses.
An extended family of 13 lives in a 3 bedroom house. The family often finds the basics of food, heat and clothing in short supply. When a sponsor for one of the children recently sent a pair of shoes, the youth told her that it was the first time he had ever taken a tag off of a pair of shoes that were for him. He is 14 years old and every pair of shoes he ever owned had first been worn by somebody else.
A mother of three children is on dialysis and has lost one leg to diabetes. They live with a relative and do have electricity and water but are often without needed food and clothing.
We have a long waiting list of children/elders/families who live in situations similar to the ones described above. Grandmothers caring for many grandchildren left in their care by parents who have no place to live and no means of supporting the children. Families of 10-20 members who live in 3 bedroom homes that do not have adequate insulation from the cold and that do have extensive black mold problems that leave both children and adults with respiratory problems.
Sponsors can choose from the following sponsorship methods.
1. Direct Sponsorship of a child or elder. Direct sponsorship involves
direct contact between the sponsor and the families through telephone,
email and postal services. Individuals learn about another culture and
that people share the same needs, wants and values despite the difference
in living conditions.
So Many Choices!! (Young Pine Ridge Girl who had been taken to Reptile Village and didn't know what direction she wanted to go)
Direct sponsorship of a child or elder usually costs around $50-60 per month. This money pays for clothes including coats, shoes, and boots, Christmas and Birthday gifts, family participation in Project SHARE (a food cooperative,) and help with other individual needs, i.e. blankets, beds, and medical transportation. It also includes mailing costs. Costs do vary as many people who are knowledgeable shoppers are able to find needed items at reduced costs. Sponsors may also choose whether they wish to participate in the food co-op program, Project SHARE. Some people share sponsorships with relatives and friends further reducing the cost to an individual.
An annual membership donation of $60.00 is requested. The money helps us to continue to meet urgent needs, pay for delivery of Project SHARE food to the reservation, supply beds and bedding, and support Native programs that lead to self-sufficiency.
To learn more about becoming a sponsor or to sign up as a sponsor, contact
Diane Capalario (email@example.com,