Today we had the biggest volume of incoming mail in months. Practically all of it consisted of gifts, well-wishes and Christmas greetings, all from our generous supporters.
St. Joseph’s Indian School strives to acknowledge all donations in short order. This can be a challenge when volumes are large. Because the quantity of mail was so great today, our Mail Processing staff sent out an SOS for assistance in sorting. Feeling confident that no one would miss me at my desk for an hour or two, I headed to the sorting room.
Tray upon tray of mail greeted me when I arrived. A number of other staff members were already at work sorting the mail according to size. This process enables the pieces to be fed properly into the machine which automatically opens the envelopes.
I saw return addresses from all over the country. Many envelopes had hand-written holiday greetings. Others had a colorful array of Christmas stamps. One poor wrinkled-looking envelope had an address that was barely legible. I said a silent prayer to the Post Office for their diligence in getting all of that wonderful mail to us, including those pieces with challenges.
What I felt with each piece of mail that I handled was a deep respect for our supporters. Those envelopes showed me that our benefactors care. That so many people from so many places believe in our mission in little Chamberlain, South Dakota, and the work we do with the Lakota students is very humbling.
Hello everyone! My name is Kelli, Planned Giving Summer Intern at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
A few days ago, I was able to spend some time with the youth of the Lower Brule Indian Reservation at the St. Joseph’s Rising Eagle Day Camp here in Chamberlain, South Dakota. On this particular morning, they were imitating animal movements and practicing summersaults and cartwheels on the football field. Their giggles and smiles made me take a trip down memory lane to two years ago when I was a camp counselor at the St. Joseph’s Rising Eagle Day Camp.
Although every day brought many joys and wonderful experiences, one day in particular still stands out in my mind.
On this particular day, one of our St. Joseph’s staff was reading a Native American children’s story to the kids. While The Rough-Face Girlwas being read, nearly all of the children were listening quietly, but one little boy was not following the rules and was being disruptive to everybody else.
Feeling like he may need to burn some energy, I grabbed a plastic bag and told him to follow me outside—we were going to go pick up some trash.
For the first few minutes, the young boy was quite unruly. However, when he saw how much fun he could make the situation, he began to laugh, smile and run around—the first time I had ever seen this young boy so alive and carefree.
His smile and laugh were contagious and I began to get into the game he created out of his own imagination. “Kelli, hold the trash bag really high!” I would hear, so I would hold it above my head and he would aim, shoot, and SCOREEEEEE! A silly celebratory dance and lots of cheering would always follow.
After about 20 minutes or so, I asked the young boy if he would like to go back inside and be on his best behavior.
He replied yes, gave me a huge hug, began to cry, and thanked me for spending time with him because “no one ever spends time with me.”
This little boy was my best friend the remainder of the Rising Eagle Day Camp. He was usually one of the first ones on the bus bright and early and one of the last to walk back to his house. He was my right-hand man and was often given certain ‘duties’ to help me with.
The young boy who had multiple disciplinary problems on his first day never had an issue again.
Thank you for allowing me to pick up trash and spend quality time with young Lakota Sioux children. Although picking up trash is a messy and sometimes stinky job, I am so grateful for this young boy and the opportunity I had to make a little friend that changed my life forever.
Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am the Web Producer at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I work in the business office, updating our website and sending out emails. I help keep benefactors informed of the happenings around St. Joseph’s campus.
I am an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe and was fortunate to be a St. Joseph’s Indian School scholarship recipient. Looking for employment after college, I decided St. Joseph’s was the right move for me.
My father is a Commander in the U. S. Public Health Service and has worked for Indian Health Service for almost 30 years. His job took my family and me from state to state, and from one Indian Reservation to the next, throughout my childhood.
He was once given an eagle feather – the greatest honor a Native American can receive – by a Lakota medicine man from the Black Hills for his work with the elderly. His passion for helping Native Americans and giving back has been my inspiration to do the same.
Working for St. Joseph’s Indian School is my way of giving back to my people. I am fortunate to help our people; even though I do not work directly with the students, this is my way of giving something better for the next generation.