A Service Trip: St. Joseph’s Students Give Back

Hi, I’m Tim! My wife and I are houseparents in the Carola Home at

Tim, a St. Joseph's houseparent.
Tim, a St. Joseph’s houseparent.

St. Joseph’s Indian School – we spend the school year with eight high school guys.

Earlier this spring, some of St. Joseph’s high school students went on a service trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It was a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community.

The opportunity we were provided was to assist Bob and his daughter with a project to better their family and the surrounding community. Bob’s wife passed away a few years ago, but had a dream for her land. She wished that a coffee shop and retreat center be built along the highway to serve the community and the passing travelers. Bob asked for help from the folks at the Outlaw Ranch in Custer, South Dakota. The staff at the ranch have had a long relationship with Bob and his family, and were glad that students from St. Joseph’s Indian School were willing to help.

St. Joseph’s students went to Outlaw Ranch and helped with a service project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The boys worked hard to clear the building site.

We arrived at the ranch on a Friday night. We were welcomed by Mary, the assistant director and Larry, a former Lutheran minister and volunteer at the ranch. They had a delicious meal prepared for us as soon as we arrived. After dinner we played a game of spoons with the staff to break the ice and to get to know them. We then had devotional time and were taken to our cabins. The staff was very helpful and everything was provided for us.

The next morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and packed lunch for the day. It was about a 40-minute drive from the ranch to the work site. Upon arrival, we had a brief meeting with Bob and his family about what he had planned for us that day. We were divided into two groups. One would stay at the local church to paint a sign announcing the future sight of the coffee house, the other group would go with Bob to the coffee house sight to do some work.

At the coffee house sight, Bob needed us to move some old hay bales and to deconstruct an old shade pavilion that was in the way. The boys worked hard and removed the bales and the shade before lunch. Needless to say that Bob was very grateful and impressed at the boys’ hard work and how quickly it was completed. After lunch, the entire group went to the coffee house location to clear the land of the remaining debris. The guys all worked together and finished the work by 4 that afternoon.

We returned to the church for dinner. While that was being prepared, we worked with one of Bob’s daughters on an art project. She had buffalo hide and paint for the guys to make bracelets. They all worked diligently while Bob talked to them about faith, school, and life as a Native American. When dinner was ready we enjoyed soup, fry bread, and wojapi – a warm fruit sauce for dipping fry bread. We then said our goodbyes and headed back to the Ranch for our evening devotions and sharing time.

The next morning we cleaned up our cabins and enjoyed a breakfast with the staff. It was a great time and the guys all said that they would like to do it again!

Pilamayathank you – for making these opportunities possible for our students!


Carola Houseparent

Each of St. Joseph’s homes take on a service project during the school year.
St. Joseph’s high school boys, along with some of their houseparents, took part in a service project this spring.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

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