While there, volunteers built a greenhouse and farmers' market, created a new lodge sign, completed a community house and restored electricity to a Lakota mother, Rosebud, with five children.
On last week’s trip, Eric Broviak and his wife Debbie Sams from Poland had the mission of bringing light back to Rosebud’s home. As an AT&T engineer, Broviak located part of the problem in a poorly wrapped underground wire coming into the home. The wire was sealed using duct tape, which could carry electrical current. The tape was removed and the proper connections were made. Inside the home, Broviak was able to restore power to all but one room. When Rosebud returned with her children, they were all very grateful. The following day they saw Broviak and Rosebud’s youngest child, about 2 years old, reached into her mom’s purse and offered Broviak a piece of gum. She wasn’t told to do it, but seemed to have a natural giving spirit. It was a touching moment for Broviak who realized that a simple thing like having an electric light was so precious to the Lakota’s everyday life.
Another precious item was clothing. On the reservation, there is close to an 85 percent unemployment rate and those who can make it past the normal life expectancy of 54 eagerly await the day they can get Social Security. Having warm clothes to wear in the harsh prairie winters is often only accomplished through the Mission of Love donations.
On board a large semi that met the volunteers on Monday was hundreds of pounds of warm winter clothing. The clothing was sorted at a warehouse by volunteers that included Nancy Schrader of Austintown. Schrader said she found out about Mission of Love at last year’s Awesome-Town fall festival.
“I really just met Kathy a year ago after reading about her in the Town Crier,” she said. “Our church pulled together and donated supplies that went to the Mission of Love warehouse.”
Schrader spent two days sorting through the clothes that eventually went to the new community center at Kiza Park on the reservation. The center serves 1,200 Lakota men, women and children. The clothing was laid out in chairs and canned food was organized on tables. Even while Schrader and several others set the items out, Lakota men came in to obtain food and clothing. They all offered a big thanks before they departed.
Plumbing at the center was handled by Mike Studer and his daughter Karen, both of Hubbard. It included a new toilet, shower, sink, hot water heater and water pump. When the volunteer crews left, the water system was up and running.
Back at the hotel in Kyle, S.D., brothers Bill and Dick Trigg worked on closing the ends of a large greenhouse. Both men were not new to mission trips.
“I’ve been on several,” said Bill from Canfield.
His brother, a 1966 Boardman graduate now living in Arizona said this was not new, but was a first.
“I’ve been on 15 mission trips,” he said. “This is my first time with Mission of Love.”
The two men drove out and brought carpenter’s tools to handle the work. They were successful in framing both ends for doors and windows and Broviak joined in to add the electrical service. The greenhouse can now be used into late fall and early spring to help young Lakota learn how to grow their own food and the science behind it. The greenhouse is part of Mission of Love volunteer (and South Dakota connection) Jane Goodall and her Roots and Shoots program, which serves as a teaching tool for young Lakota. The farm market building that went up on Saturday was the final push and would give the Lakota a place to bring and sell the produce they raise. It is similar to Ohio’s buy local efforts.
Each day of the trip was a full schedule, but there was always a little time in the evening to reflect on what the trip was all about.
“It is amazing what can be accomplished in just five days,” Schrader said. “And the Lakota people are even more amazing. No matter what hardships the face, they are good at adapting.”
Schrader was referring to the poverty that exists on the reservation and in spite of living in rundown shacks that barely met the basic needs of the average person, the Lakota still smile and try to help each other. Price said the Lakota have a lot of value to offer and that the way of life needs to be preserved.
“We are on the verge of losing the Lakota culture,” she said. “We build homes. That builds families, which in turn build communities.”
To learn more about the recent trip, visit www.missionoflove.org in the coming weeks. Price did say there will be many more trips to South Dakota and that the mission there was far from complete.
“I got involved after hearing Kathy (Price) speak at a Poland Rotary meeting,” Schrader said. “I learned a lot of Mission of Love and was impressed.”
He was impressed enough to schedule a week’s vacation with his wife Debbie Sams. When asked about returning someday, every volunteer said they wanted to come back and continue the mission to preserve a rich culture of the Lakota.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Braving a cold rain at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota are Mission of Love volunteers Peggy Elston of New Middletown, Nancy Schrader of Austintown, Sieglinde Warren of Poland, and Joy McKee of Saginaw Hills. The women were sorting donations of clothing, shoes, and food that will go to Lakota families to help them get through the harsh reservation winters.