The following reflection was written by Bette and Mike, two houseparents at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Our loving houseparents are an integral part of our mission to care for the whole child — mind, body heart and spirit.
My husband, Mike, and I have had the joy of working at St. Joseph’s Indian School for just over five years. If we were asked to express what we felt was the most positive aspect of our job, we would — without hesitation — state it is the children, families and staff we come into contact with. Following that, we would add keeping the focus on helping others is so prevalent in our mission.
Our school has a goal to serve others, and St. Joseph’s has been doing that for over 90 years. We have a delivery truck that takes clothing and much needed items to outlying reservation communities in need. We call these trips “mission runs”. Food boxes and gas vouchers are provided to assist students’ families. St. Joseph’s also has guest housing available to give families a place to stay while visiting their children on campus. There is a bookmobile that delivers free books and school supplies to children and adults in reservation communities all over South Dakota. There is also an alumni program to provide a helping hand and a listening ear when needed.
Indeed, we could fill a whole page with the acts of kindness our school is a part of.
Acts of kindness do not stop with the staff and volunteers at our school. St. Joseph’s is committed to planting seeds for the children in our care. Each year, houseparents are asked to complete two service projects with each campus home. It is just one aspect of our position that we look forward to and eagerly fulfill each year. We know from our experience the children who perform these acts of kindness receive as much joy — if not more — as the recipients themselves.
The children at St. Joseph’s have greatly enjoyed creating no-sew blankets and cards for the animals housed at a local shelter. They have colored pictures for lonely seniors and made cards for a sick child who was in a hospital. They’ve even sent cards to college students needing encouragement to give them a reminder that someone cares. Our children have created surprise door decorations to welcome a new teacher to our school and to spread happiness during the Valentine season. Others have visited nursing homes and baked cupcakes for a neighboring church in Fort Thompson, S.D.
As you can imagine, we are not able to list each and every good deed our school is a part of — from gifts-in-kind donations to simple acts that bring such joy to others. However, it is a reminder — especially when times can be a little tougher — that if we make a choice to focus on what we can do to help others rather than what we can get for ourselves, we can feel God’s love surrounding us and creating a much better world.
Bette & Mike