Like most Americans, when I turn the water spigot I get running water, when I want light I flip a switch, and when my family needs medical care I pop across town for immediate access to my choice of clinics and hospitals.
We really need to feel grateful for the opportunity to have better living conditions than at least 3/4 of the world's population.
Having been reminded of the fact that many of our own first citizens are struggling to survive in what are worse than "third world conditions", and of the actions being taken by some area groups to help, has led us here at Gallery La Crosse to join in and take action, too.
The community at Porcupine, SD, on the Pine Ridge Reservation is struggling with a variety of issues. Most involve lack of access to what most of us take for granted.
Many suffer from: lack of jobs, very poor housing options, lack of running water, lack of electrical service, lack of good nutrition, and a severe shortage of medical services.
There is an on-going Mission from our local healthcare community, coordinated by staff from Gundersen-Lutheran, to assist with healthcare needs at the community Clinic at Porcupine. And, a group of grad students at UW-La Crosse have worked to help create a community garden at Porcupine, where many chronic health issues are related to lack of good nutrition.
Our first step was to hold a Benefit Art Show in August of 2010 to help with funding for the community Health Clinic & for the planned Community Garden.
Second, we have a Permanent Donations Box & Needs List located in our main level Gallery. Artists and other folks from the local area bring in items to donate to the cause. Staff from Gundersen-Lutheran pick up the donations several times during each year.
Third, we have set an exhibit space in our Gallery where Native American Artists & Artisans from the Porcupine, SD are able to sell their creations, with assistance from Rosie at the Singing Horse Trading Post.
By connecting with the health Mission staff to invite these Artists & Artisans to freely exhibit their wares here, we now have the beautiful works of Lakota Artists available to purchase here in La Crosse.
While prices for Native American Arts & Crafts can be very high in some areas of our nation; for those Artisans unable to get their work seen and sold in locations away from the Reservation, their work brings only a fraction of its true value back to those who put their skills and labor into creating it.
Singing Horse Trading Post & the Gundersen Lutheran Global Outreach Program have teamed with us in bringing these beautiful Artworks to La Crosse.
1. Take the amount of money you might spend for one evening out, and instead spend it on providing Supplies from the List of Needs.
2. Make cash donations via Gundersen-Lutheran to help the medical Mission to provide essential equipment & supplies for the Community Health Clinic.
3. Donate items from the Lists below. Maybe consider a "Holiday Gift" of goods from your family to help out.
3. Purchase the creations of Native American Artisans who live on the Reservation at Porcupine. For many of them, selling their Artworks can make a huge difference in what they are able to provide for their families. Artworks by the Lakota Artists of Pine Ridge are now available here at Gallery La Crosse.
4. If you are a healthcare professional, consider volunteering to assist in one of the medical Mission trips to Porcupine, SD. Contact Gundersen-Lutheran in La Crosse for more information about how to help, 608 - 775 - 1418.
Shoes in Good Condition
Winter Boots in Good Condition
Shampoo & Conditioner
Razors & Shaving Cream
No-Crack Brand of Hand Creams
Clothing in Good Condition
Non-perishable High-Protein Foods (such as canned fish, peanut butter, canned meats, etc.)
Sponsorship For Ambulance Maintenance
First Aid Supplies
Hand Sanitizer in Large Pump Bottles
Garden Tools in Good Condition
Clean 5 Gallon Pails
Garden Work Gloves
Water Hoses in Good Condition
Millions of tourism dollars flow freely every August to the community of Sturgis, just a short drive from Porcupine; but not into Porcupine, where unemployment is running at about 80% these days.
So, it seemed appropriate to tap into that flow of tourists to help out.
Our Motorcycle Arts & Crafts Benefit Show (which was held in August 2010 for 3 weeks as "bikers" from all over the USA travelled through La Crosse on their way to Sturgis), combined with other local efforts to help out in Porcupine.
Though this Show was very small, it was our "baby step", initiating a series of connections and actions to help out people in need.
As Mother Teresa said,
“Not all of us can do great things. But we all can do small things with great love.”