The Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, has announced that it has $15,000 in grant funding for home improvements in communities across the 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River reservation. The funding was provided by Alexandria, Virginia-based Running Strong for American Indian Youth, and it accommodates repair work up to $1,000 per family.
“We’ll officially launch the Family Services Home Improvements program in a couple of weeks,” said April Bachman, CRYP’s finance manager. “It will run until the funds are depleted or until the end of our fiscal year on June 30, whichever comes first.
“Program participants must own their homes, and we ask that they volunteer to assist with their projects,” she continued. “If a Family Services member is interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, he or she must provide a written letter of request, describing the items to be repaired or renovated and providing exact measurements. We also ask that members provide ‘before’ pictures, so we can see the items in question and their condition.”
CRYP launched its Family Services program in 2002 as a way to better manage donations and community distributions. Although the program is well known due to its long-running Christmas Toy Drive, which serves 20-plus reservation communities and more than 1,000 children each year, it also distributes school supplies, winter coats, shoes, baby items and a variety of household needs.
“We started our Home Improvements and Heat-Match Assistance programs to further support our families in the community,” explained Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We learned long ago that easing the daily burdens faced by so many families here on Cheyenne River is one of the best ways to improve quality of life for our children. Providing assistance with winter heating, funding home improvements and providing much-needed household items on a regular basis — we help our kids by supporting their caregivers.”
A $30 Family Services membership fee covers an entire family for one year, and memberships are available to anyone who lives on the Cheyenne River reservation, not just those who live in the city of Eagle Butte. Simply stop by the CRYP office at the Cokata Wiconi teen center on East Lincoln Street to fill out an application and pay the $30 annual membership fee. Effective immediately, new members may take advantage of the program’s many benefits.
Surveys have shown that most member households use Family Services once per quarter, although a sizable group does come in once per month. Most also participate in the organized distributions — including the Christmas Toy Drive, which served 1,200 children in 20 reservation communities in 2012.
All proceeds from membership fees and fundraisers such as the rummage sales support the Family Services program infrastructure. This includes staff, administrative hardware and donation/inventory management tools.
“We want to make sure that community members understand how their funds are used,” Garreau said. “We started Family Services more than a decade ago because we needed a way to manage the huge amounts of donations that we would receive throughout the year. We also knew we needed to manage those donations in a responsible, transparent manner — and to do that, we must have dedicated staff and professional management tools. That’s how we ensure that Family Services will remain a reliable, far-reaching community resource in the years to come.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project® and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visitwww.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, visit the youth project’s Facebook “Cause” page. All Cause members will receive regular updates through Facebook.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project®, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.