A Horse is Not a Home

A Year in the Life of an Americorps VISTA on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota

Onsite VISTA Training: Day 2

Show Notes:

Hello! Welcome back.

At the time of this filming I’ve gone through two days of official work as a VISTA. I ride a car pool with my VISTA predecessor, two members of Hunkpati Investments / The Harvest Initiative, and their VISTA. It’s about an hour drive from Pierre to Fort Thompson (which if you remember, is the major population center on Crow Creek), so the carpool is really convenient.

We arrived, got settled in, and I FINALLY got to meet my sponsor, who runs the Boys and Girls Club in Crow Creek. She gave me a tour of the club and the nearby teen center, and we got acquainted with each other. I think we’ll get along – we even joked a bit about the government shutdown. We headed back to office and then my predecessor and I went over my V.A.D. (Vista Assignment Description) which is actually rather complex.

My main activities are:

  1. Fundraising Research and Strategy Steps
  2. Board of Directors Correspondence and Scheduling
  3. Funder Correspondence / Volunteer Coordination Steps
  4. Maintain Current & New Programs of Club

I actually spent the rest of the day in front of a computer working on a website! This was fine though, because it was for a good cause and wasn’t a super heady coding project – just migrating the boys and girls club of three districts site over to WordPress and adding a donation form which is going to help TREMENDOUSLY.

I could NOT for the life of me sleep that night, and ended up staying up until 3AM. Luckily, my predecessor was doing work in Pierre until around 10, so I got to rest and then we drove down to Fort Thompson together, and headed right for a tribal council meeting.

Out of respect, I won’t say too much about the meeting, other than the fact that I got to meet Peter Lengkeek in person. This is important to me since I’ve been watching him on videos from Can-Do and other things (I actually posted one of his videos in the comments of an earlier post) and it was sort of like meeting a celebrity in this weird little world of Native American Advocacy I’ve found myself in. He and my sponsor want to build a bike / walking path on the road between Fort Thompson and Chamberlain, so hopefully we can work together for that.

After the meeting we went to work for a bit, and something really funny happened while I was continuing to work on the website. Hunkpati Investments is like a Kiva but for Crow Creek – they do small loans to local entrepreneurs to help them start their businesses. One of the community members came in and said “I need a grant for some bats.” Crystal, one of the employees there, asked “What do you want to do with the bats?” He replied “I want to raise them and sell them!” They proceeded to google prices for bats and cages. I hope he gets them!

After work we headed over to sit at a the board meeting for the Boys and Girls club – one of the items on the agenda was literally just “Snakes.” See, the Boys and Girls club has three main units, one for each district of Crow Creek – Big Bend, Crow Creek, and Fort Thompson. I guess they were having trouble with blue racer snakes near the Big Bend unit. Luckily the snakes aren’t poisonous, but they do freak out when you corner them, so the kids still need to stay away!

So, I took minutes for the meeting and that was it. Overall, I’m really thrilled to be working with such a vibrant and colorful community, and I really hope I can do whatever needs to be done to help them out. Tomorrow I’m actually taking my truck down, as my predecessor, my sponsor and I are going to be doing some errands around the reservation and in Chamberlain. I’ll report back by the end of the week.


5 responses to “Onsite VISTA Training: Day 2

  1. Brian April 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Good stuff Mark!
    Cheap teleprompter directions from this guy!

    or just wing it!

    • AphelionZ April 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks for the video Brian! That is awesome and I’ll definitely try it on the next episode.

  2. Hank April 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    How is the weather out there? Are there leaves on the trees yet?

    • AphelionZ April 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      You’re not going to believe this but it’s going to snow here starting tomorrow or the next day! They’re thinking like 6-8 inches!!

  3. elizabethtool April 20, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Great report! send me the grant info for Nike. Name of grant what it is for and who receives it. As an artist my letters get noticed! + I worship Nike!

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