Where do you go when you face troubles or need someone to talk to?
It might be a path in the woods, a house of worship or a kitchen of a best friend.
At the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the youth find solace at Donna Jumping Eagle’s house. Donna has hosted youth for 35 years, but the newly constructed $90.000 safe house now provides space for 20 teenagers, who typically stay over weekends. Donna likes to fill the kitchen with the smells of soups, meatloaf, fry bread and wojati, known as Indian pudding for the guests.
The Safe House is one of several programs that One Spirit funds to provide new directions for children in one of the poorest places in the country, where unemployment, alcoholism and suicide are rampant.
ONE Spirit needs your help to support the Safe House and other programs:
- The annual Post Crazy Horse Ride Summer Camp. Include Lakota kinship and a safe environment for riders with families affected by alcoholism, drugs or overcrowded living conditions. The riders learn spiritual horsemanship, equipment repair training and horse-related crafts. The event also includes traditional sweat lodge ceremonies, alcohol and drug counseling, motivational speakers and counseling.
Your donation of $100 would pay for one month at the camp for one youth.
A gift of $300 would sponsor a teenager for the entire summer.
- Tepees for the summer camps and cultural rides. One Spirit wants to raise $3,500 to purchase seven tepees for the youth. Each tepee costs $500.
- Ongoing programs at the Safe House. Donna, a 55-year-old mother of six, opened her home to 7 nieces and nephews, then to other reservation children. She and her husband, William Jumping Eagle, a retired police officer, have been married 35 years. After they became involved with ONE Spirit, they took out $1,000 in personal loans to pay for teenagers to attend the Crazy Horse summer camp. Your donation of $100 would pay for meat, fruit and vegetables for one week.
Donna’s Safe House has a growing reputation on the reservation.
“My family is a respectable family, so (parents) know their children are OK,” Donna said. “We teach them where to take care of their problems – to go into a sweat, to release your anger, release whatever their feelings. … We give them a hope. They can’t change their parents, but they can sure change themselves.”
Here, Donna Jumping Eagle is pictured with Garfield Little Dog, who spent much of his youth in her home. They are celebrating the new Safe House, which opened March 24. Below is the Safe House.