As you may know, I am participating in YMCA of the USA’s Emerging Global Leaders Institute (EGLI). The goal of EGLI is to bring together young Y leaders from across the country and focus on the impact and future of the YMCA. There is a particularly strong focus on diversity, inclusion and global awareness.
Throughout the process, we have worked with the YMCA World Service Campaign, which raises support for YMCA projects around the world and the Sioux Y in the U.S. (the only Y on a native American reservation). In the EGLI program, we have three participants from the Sioux Y (Cait, Dan and Mark) who works with youth on the Sioux reservation in South Dakota. In our own backyard, the Sioux YMCA works on a reservation where nearly 95% of the population lives in poverty and alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation has no industry, technology or commercial infrastructure to provide employment for its residents, contributing to its 90 percent unemployment rate. 70% of teens drop out of high school and the teen suicide rate is 150% higher than the national average. The challenges these families are facing is truly tragic and hearing our peers speak about their struggles breaks your heart.
But through their work at the Sioux Y, Cait, Dan and Mark provides vital support, mentoring and assistance to youth and families in need, often with lifesaving results. Dan recently told me a story about a boy named Courage. Courage lived with his family on the reservation in poverty, without a father, surrounded by alcohol, a life without much hope. And on a recent trip through the Sioux YMCA, Dan got to spend some one-on-one time with Courage. Through their conversations, Courage confessed that he had thought about taking his own life recently. But, after being invited on the trip by the YMCA, he had changed his mind. Courage’s participation with the Sioux YMCA saved his life.
Unlike most Ys, the Sioux Y relies entirely on grants and contributions to stay open. That being said, I hope you will join me in supporting the Sioux YMCA. Every dollar makes a difference, no matter how big or how small. Giving is easy and can be done through the online portal here. You certainly don’t have to give if you aren’t able, but if you are able to support, know that you will be changing lives in South Dakota.
Thank you so much for your consideration!