A trip they will never forget!

Hello, I’m Frank. I currently serve as the 7-8 Grade Residential Coordinator at St. Joseph’s.

In April, St. Joseph’s traveled to New Orleans for a donor luncheon. Each time St. Joseph’s host a donor luncheon, two students are chosen to travel along. This gives our students a unique opportunity to see the country and meet many people who so generously support them!

Let me tell you a little about the preparations on our end… Continue reading “A trip they will never forget!”

Truly grateful

We just returned from donor luncheons in New York, one in lower Manhattan and one in Melville Long Island. We could see first hand some of the chaos caused by Superstorm Sandy. The area near Battery Park and The World Trade Center memorial site were crawling with utility trucks, demolition and clean up crews, mostly wearing haz-mat suits. When I asked a crew of hard hats staying at our hotel what they were working on, they told me their company specializes in saving and preserving paper. I hadn’t thought about all the valuable and historical books and papers and documents must be in danger from the storm surge. On the way to Long Island we noticed how many trees had been uprooted and fallen.

At the luncheons, all of our donors had stories about being without power, or having family and friends who had suffered terrible damage. Many people were home bound because they couldn’t get gasoline for their vehicles. One family bought a generator after last year’s Hurricane Irene, but after a few days they ran out of gasoline to power it and couldn’t get any more.

Amid the destruction and tragedy, there have been so many kind and generous people reaching out with offers of help. While crisis can bring out the bad in people, many times it shows the goodness we are all capable of.

For eighth grader Elliot and seventh grader Jay, this was their first airplane flight. New York is so huge compared to what they know, and they were riveted on all the sights as we hopped on a tour bus to learn about the history and culture packed into a few square miles. Their cameras clicked away constantly as they discovered places they’d heard about or seen on TV or the movies. The most notable landmark for them was the Flatiron building, which they recognized from Spiderman.

We did a fair amount of walking. We stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to say a few prayers for folks back home. Art and statues and shrines also teach a lot about God and salvation history. With all the buildings, hustle and bustle, the large rocks in Central Park overlooking the pond provided a reflective view of the glory of nature.

Christine, one of our houseparents until she retired last year to be with her grandchildren, now lives on Long Island and brought her family to the luncheon there. She was able to share with the folks at her table the joys and challenges of raising a dozen 7 and 8 year olds in one household.

A joy for me at the luncheons is meeting folks who have been long time supporters of St. Joseph but haven’t had the opportunity to see the school, or meet any of our staff or students. With a group, the time always seems so short as my time is split between many people.

One evening Geri, our Director of Major Gift Services, arranged a meeting with a couple who has supported us for many years and couldn’t make the luncheons. Having a more in-depth conversation with a small group was even more satisfying. I was awed by the many other causes the couple supports around the world, with some tremendous networking to make a real difference in the lives of people in the Third World and in our own country. For all the negatives we can focus on in the world, Thanksgiving reminds us there are also so many people and things to be truly grateful for.

Fulfillment and success at St. Joseph’s Indian School

The past few days have held a series of meetings. Before spring break, we collected letters of intent from our child services staff and know which employees will be moving on at the end of the school year. Now we have to begin figuring out how to replace them.

For some supervisory jobs, there are good candidates here who will want to move up and take on more responsibility. Some positions we will have to advertise for. We generally have need of qualified houseparents, and since we are opening another high school home next year that will be one definite need. Personnel requires more than just willing people, but must be about matching them to a position they can find fulfillment and success in.

We’re also in the ongoing process of budgets and planning for next year. The development office is particularly busy with the mail that comes in this time of year, and are also thinking ahead to the future. Our computer people have been incredibly busy preparing to switch over to a new software system that will allow us more personalization in meeting our donors’ requests and needs. We’re also exploring some corporate partnerships that will give us new possibilities of funding our programs.

On the student front, I met with high school students Errol and Kyran to prepare them for the presentations they will give to our donors next month at donor luncheons in Maine and New Hampshire. I’ve spent very little time in those states and am as excited about seeing the area and meeting folks as the boys are.

I resumed my culinary tour of the homes with suppers in Summerlee (4th-5th grade girls) and Stevens ( 6th – 8th grade girls). The students are excited that softball season begins next week, and the 3rd – 6th  can take part in a week-long gymnastics camp if they wish – it’s not required.

The 7th graders enjoyed their cultural field trip to the Middle Border Museum in Mitchell, South Dakota, which also houses the Oscar Howe art collection. It is on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University, and they toured the school and started to consider if their future might include college or vocational tech training.

A part of St. Joseph’s Indian School

I spent most of the day working on finances and budgets, not too exciting but necessary to keep things running well. Thankfully we have such good and dedicated people in the Development Office that think ahead. Much of our discussion right now is planning for a future where postage costs are going to be higher and services probably curtailed. Since anyone reading this blog is already internet friendly, we really see this as a continued opportunity. While online giving grows every year, many of our donors are still more comfortable with standard mail, so a gradual transition will take some time. Instead of taking months to design, print and mail a newsletter, we can have a photo and article posted online the next day. It can save us both time and money and get interactive updates out in a timely way.

We want folks to feel a part of what happens on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, even at a distance.

In the evening I talked with Daylon and Erica, high school students chosen to speak at our donor luncheons in Miami on March 21 and April 1. They were both incredibly excited and look forward to meeting and thanking our donors in that area, and sharing some of their experiences at St. Joseph.

I also stopped in the Carola Home (HS boys) to visit the walking wounded from the ski trip. I think their egos were bruised as much as muscles, but they are eager to try again!

Fr. Steve’s updates

Fr. Anthony, two of our high school girls, a houseparent and two staff from Planned Giving took off for New Jersey, where they’ll have a couple of appreciation luncheons for our donors.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fr. Anthony, two of our high school girls, a houseparent and two staff from Planned Giving took off for New Jersey, where they’ll have a couple of appreciation luncheons for our donors.

I’m usually the MC at those, but I still need to get a little stronger before I start traveling.

Before the crew left I went over to the high school house to wish the girls well. Talia said she was a bit nervous, so I had her practice with me the things she planned to say.

I didn’t see Shay until just before they were ready to leave, but I sent her off with a hug and load of good wishes.

I find that our students have a lot to say about life on Indian reservations and hopes and dreams for a better future. It just takes a lot of encouragement to get them to believe in themselves and know that so many people are interested in what they have to say.