Robin is a beloved St. Joseph’s Indian School employee. She’s known around campus as the woman with the chipper smile and the go-getter personality. Her strong voice commands attention. Her smile and laugh is infectious. She walks from job to job as if she’s on a mission … and she is.
And that mission takes her to over 30 communities located on South Dakota Indian reservations. At least every other week, Robin loads boxes into a St. Joseph’s van and trailer. She and Chris, another mission run veteran, then hit the road to deliver the much needed supplies of clothing, books, toys, diapers, blankets and other essentials to reservation communities.
It’s just one of several St. Joseph’s Indian School outreach programs.
“We take anything we can to help families on reservations,” said Robin. “If our students at St. Joseph’s don’t have an immediate need for an item, or if we have an abundance of something, we load it up and get it sent out to people who need those things right now … and so many do.”
Mission runs have been especially necessary this past winter. Through the months of January and February, weather conditions included record-breaking temperatures around 30 degrees below zero and wind chills 60 degrees below zero. Mission runs devoted to providing cold weather essentials of warm coats, blankets, hats and gloves were a must.
“There were often people in line waiting before I even pull-up with the van and trailer because they needed those things so badly,” said Robin. “There’s never anything leftover and everything in all the boxes is used.”
Even though the calendar says it’s spring, the need remains. In March, South Dakota had snowstorms that dumped 12 inches of snow or more and heavy rain showers. Some reservation communities were hit especially hard. Although the prayed-for sunshine followed, the warm rays began melting the snow faster than the ground could thaw. It caused a new wave of flooding problems in April because the water had nowhere to go. It swamped roads and trapped people inside their homes – some for weeks.
To help, St. Joseph’s tailored the mission run supplies to meet the need and took items not usually included, such as cases of water.
And people are incredibly grateful, said Robin.
“As soon as I pull-up, people will start shouting, ‘They’re here! They’re here!’ and start helping me unload,” she said. “I get a lot of hugs and a lot of thank yous, but it’s not just for me. There’s a whole team at St. Joseph’s that make these runs possible.”
Since she delivers supplies to the same contact person or organization in each community, Robin said part of the fun of the mission runs is getting to know people. Although it’s a jaunt to get to some of the isolated communities, long drives and the wide-open country do not phase her …
Because the miles and miles on the road make a difference.
“I enjoy this job very much,” she said. “You see the joy and the difference our school makes. You can’t beat that feeling.”
Pilamaya – thank you – for helping make St. Joseph’s Indian School mission runs to South Dakota reservations possible.