In March, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® officially concluded its Heat Assistance Program for the 2013-14 winter season. The program’s matching-funds provided much-needed aid to 1,318 community members, 795 children among them, on South Dakota’s remote Cheyenne River reservation thanks to a grant from Alexandra, Virginia-based Running Strong for American Indian Youth®.
According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, this season’s Heat Assistance Program assisted 217 families with their propane and electric bills or with their firewood purchases.
“We’ve just gone through a very long, cold, snowy winter, one that saw tremendous hardship in many parts of the country due to the high cost of propane,” Garreau said. “We’re very happy that we were able to help 217 families — 795 children. We distributed the full $20,000 from the Running Strong grant, for which we are deeply grateful.”
Through CRYP’s Heat Assistance Program, Cheyenne River families may request matching grants up to $100 to help cover the cost of propane, or alternative fuels, when they most need it. The 25-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization processes the requests and works with local providers to ensure that each family receives assistance as soon as possible.
“To receive matching funds, all a family member needs to do is be a current member of Family Services and put forth between $25 and $100 to be matched by the grant,” Garreau explained.
CRYP created Family Services in 2002 to manage the increasing amounts of donated supplies that the not-for-profit youth project provides to local families year-round. To participate in the program, local families simply pay a $30 annual membership fee. That small one-time payment covers all family members for the entire year, and the proceeds support the program infrastructure so Family Services can remain a reliable community resource in the years to come.
Although the annual membership fees cover many of the department’s operational expenses, Garreau advised that CRYP wouldn’t be able to offer such critical services as heat matching and home improvements without Running Strong’s support.
“The Running Strong grants allow us to offer programs like Heat Assistance year after year, and it means everything to us,” she said. “Matching grants can mean the difference between staying warm and freezing during a dangerously cold South Dakota winter.”
The Heat Assistance Program is now closed for the season. CRYP will announce dates for the 2014-15 winter season later this year.
“Once again, we’re profoundly grateful to Running Strong for the grant that allows us to meet such a critical in our community,” Garreau said. “With their assistance, we’re better able to support our families and our children, and we’re looking forward to continuing this program next winter!”
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.