Thanking Donors in Delaware and Philadelphia

Last weekend, a group of us traveled to Dover, Delaware and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (just outside Philadelphia) for donor appreciation luncheons. Eighth grader Deavontay and seventh grader Keaytan were the guests of honor as they shared with folks about their routines and adventures at St. Joseph’s Indian School. The boys were great travelers, and enjoyed meeting about 70 guests each day who journeyed to the luncheons. The donors were most kind and hospitable, filled with insightful questions and lots of enthusiasm and encouragement for the Native American youngsters.

One man was a cancer survivor. Upon learning I’m going on three years since surgery to remove cancer, he took off a green wristband he had made for himself and gave it to me.

The words engraved on it are “never give up.”

That’s a good message not just for me, but also for St. Joseph’s Lakota students as they pursue their dreams.

St. Joseph’s students and staff at Independence Hall.
One of our first stops in Philadelphia was Independence Hall.
Seeing the Liberty Bell helped history come alive for the Lakota boys.
Seeing artifacts of the past – like the Liberty Bell – helps history come alive!

Upon meeting me, many people say, “I know you from your pictures.” I heard that often on our trip, but in addition I had to laugh when one woman said to me afterwards, “you’re nothing like I pictured you; you’re lots of fun!”

I’m glad she found the afternoon lively. I really do love the mission at St. Joseph’s and am glad that joy comes out.

We flew into Philadelphia with the students gawking out the window at the widespread city below. When I asked them about places they wanted to see and experience, our first goal was to taste a genuine Philly Cheesesteak for lunch. The weather was perfect for walking to stretch after a long flight and explore a colorful South Philly neighborhood. We tried Pat’s King of Steaks and sat at a picnic table outside to enjoy a mouth-watering sandwich that hit the spot.

The Native American boys and their teacher enjoy a genuine Philly Cheesesteak.
It was a beautiful day to enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak!

Downtown, we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’s home and Benjamin Franklin’s grave. My favorite was the portrait gallery in the Second Bank of the United States, with iconic paintings of famous Americans we recognized from history books. Actually seeing places and artifacts instead of just reading about them makes history come alive!

Sunday afternoon, we were able to spend some time at Valley Forge and learn of the hardships the Revolutionary patriots endured through some harsh winter months.

I’ve traveled a lot both before and since coming to St. Joseph’s, but I’d never been to Delaware before. The First State was my 48th, leaving only Hawaii and Alabama that I’ve yet to visit. St. Joseph’s is planning to visit Alabama a year from now. We have no Hawaii travel plans set, but if we ever go there, I’ve already had many people say they’ll volunteer to chaperone!

The Lakota (Sioux) boys learned about the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge.
Sunday, we visited Valley Forge.

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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