At Running Strong for American Indian Youth® we did not initiate our Heat Match program a quarter century ago for recognition, but to keep children, families, and elders on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on the Great Plains of South Dakota warm in their homes on the coldest days of winter.
But, when Running Strong is recognized for our efforts – thanks to our supporters from across the country and our dedicated staff working at our field office, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home), on the vast reservation – it does fill our hearts with pride.
Such was the case on January 20 when we received a letter of appreciation and support from Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out, who stated on behalf of the tribe to our supporters who make the program possible:
“The Oglala Sioux Tribe is truly grateful for the Heat Match program that assisted our tribal members greatly.
“As you know, life can get challenging here on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, especially when confronted with the cold South Dakota winters.
“Your generosity in helping us to meet the needs of our people is a blessing and with your help we were able to keep families warm in some of the most extreme weather conditions.”
President Star Comes Out added the Heat Match program, which today provides $400 to families for their $100 match for a total of $500 to go towards having their propane tanks filled or credited to their utility company bill, “makes a difference in the lives of the Lakota and we extend our gratitude and continued support in all your endeavors that makes life for tribal members a little bit easier.
“Lila wopila tanka, (We give great thanks to Running Strong for all your hard work).”
On January 9, we began accepting Heat Match applications and since then our field coordinator Dave Lone Elk has been working tirelessly to process the paperwork as fast as he humanly can, starting from Day 1 when 127 families came into to Tipi Waste to apply.
“I’m afraid to get snowed in for seven days without propane again,” commented one female elder to Dave who assured her that she no longer needed to worry about not having propane for the rest of the winter.
And in addition to increasing the matching funds this year, we are also expecting to nearly doubling the number of families assisted last year from 909 to 1,750 this year with the help of our generous supporters.