By far, the most rewarding aspect of our work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for our water coordinator on the reservation, Ken Lone Elk (Oglala Lakota), is joy, and relief, he sees on the faces of the hundreds who today have running water at their homes.
Most recently is Lydia who stopped by the Running Strong For American Indian Youth® field office Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home) to speak to him about her being on the Indian Health Service waitlist to have her home connected to the main water service line which runs through Pine Ridge — a wait that could be as long as two years.
However, it was there she learned about the Running Strong program which has connected some 150 homes to the water line in past five years which brought her to Ken to fill out an application.
As luck would have it, our contractor just happened to be in the area where Lydia lives, and Ken instructed her to take her application directly over to him.
And the good news?
“Three days later she had water and some repair work on her septic system,” reported Ken. “She was so happy.”
To express her sincere gratitude to Ken, she showed up back at the field office a few days later with a cake and a plate of home-baked cookies for Ken and staff.
“I told her to take it to the crew who did the work,” Ken told her, “but she said she had already taken them some goodies, and that we were the most important part of this service.
“She got all choked up with tears when she told us we were a blessing for the Lakota families, and she thanked us once again on behalf of her family of 10.”
Ken was practically at a loss of words — “all I could say was ‘no problem,’ this is why we are here, for families like you.”
They are many such “Lydias” out there, added Ken, saying, “I thanked her for her kind words … this made our day for our contractor’s crew — and our crew.”
And thanks to the supporters of Running Strong, Lydia did not have to wait two long years in the hopes of getting water, just three short days.