Heat Match Program Update 1/27/23
Our Heat Match program on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation kicked off with a bang on Monday, January 9, when on day 1, 127 families came to our field office, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home), to submit their funding applications. In two weeks alone, we have provided heating funds to over 1050 families.
This year, due to increased energy costs for propane and electricity, we increased our match to 4:1, meaning that for each family that comes in with $100, we will match it with $400, for a total of $500 to fill their propane tank or as a credit on their utility bill.
And not only that, because of the brutal cold this winter so far, and the overwhelming need of Pine Ridge families, we have increased our goal on the number of families to be assisted through the six-week Heat Match program, from 1,750 at its start by 500 more, for a total of 2,250.
Running Strong field coordinator Dave Lone Elk reported that families have been coming in to apply from all nine districts of the vast 3,469-square-mile reservation (one of the largest in the U.S., and larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined) with their money order for $100.
Milo Yellow Hair, field director of our Pine Ridge partner, Slim Buttes Agricultural Development, reported this month that “right now, the grounds of Pine Ridge are covered in much-needed snow, the White River has beavers making dams and the downed trees make good fire for the sweat lodge community.”
In addition, Milo used a Bobcat to dig people out and remove snow from neighborhood roads and driveways following the December blizzard.
On the coldest days of the year when the temperature can drop below zero, and the wind chill factor can be in the negative double digits, the conditions outside – and inside without heat – are life-threatening.
Tragically, in December, it was reported by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe that “As the storm raged, families ran out of fuel, and two people froze to death, including one in their home” on the reservation.
A letter from the tribe seeking a presidential disaster declaration described the situation as a “catastrophe.”
At Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, our Heat Match program was initiated more than 20 years ago to prevent such needless death, and thanks to our supporters, thousands each year have one thing less to worry about and fear – even when the temperatures outside are deadly.