Yikes! I'm so late this month with my New Year's Resolution.
Last summer my mom and some members of our church joined an organization called "Simply Smiles" to volunteer at a reservation in South Dakota
Again, to save the trouble of trying to lamely explain what they do, here is an excerpt from their approach section on their website.(I am copying this with only the best of intentions and not in any way trying to pass this off as my own words)
"Our supporters, our donors, and our volunteers allow us to see the individual in need and support them in this same way – but on a scale of thousands of individuals and growing.
the desolate prairies of an Indian reservation in South Dakota to the
remote mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, this personal and holistic approach
means we are providing food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education,
infrastructure, jobs, pride, dignity, hope, and solutions."
They are trying to make a real difference in these people's lives. They want to create sustainability, integrity and dignity for those they help. They don't want to just throw money at the problem. They really want to try and help them stand on their own feet.
In South Dakota, in the land they were given by the government (let's not get started on the American Government and Native Americans) is completely unsuitable for growing anything. The poverty, obesity, diabetes, drugs, alcohol and suicide rates are unfathomable.The unemployment rate is 90%. And Simply Smiles just wants to help fix that. In such a hopeless place, they try to bring a little light into it to secure a better future.
I like a lot of charities. I believe in dozens of great causes. They are all worthy and good in their own way. I know this charity is currently "only" (which I use lightly) two different locations at the moment, but they are doing a lot of good and are trying to expand their work to other places. I think (and if I am incorrect, please correct me) it is Simply Smile's goal for them to not be needed in South Dakota anymore. I think their dream and aim is to do their work, get the Reservation put back together and settled in, and then leave and check up on them periodically. Then they can continue working with other places in need.
As I said, my mother went for a week. It was a lot of work, outdoors in July. It sounded like an amazing experience and an exhausting one. I hope someday I can do similar things. Volunteering and getting firsthand insight on other ways of life, and being able to help others in need.
We attended the Fundraiser they had a week or so ago. My mother and I baked bar cookies for the event. I was interested to go to see their story and what they wanted to get accomplished this year. The young man who started this entire organization is energetic and incredible.
I was astonished at the amount of money people were donating to the event. Donating money in the thousands. The thousands. 5 grand here, 1 grand there. Beyond generous. Can you imagine? It is my dream (and I'm sure my husband's too) that one day we will be financially stable and can actually do that.
One day I hope I can donate hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a charity I believe in. To be able to say "Yes! I believe in this cause! Take this money and make a difference in the world!" If I am able to achieve that in my life, my life will be very blessed and very worthwhile. To be rich enough to give it away would be a wonderful thing.
But for now, this is all we can do. Pick a good cause every month and donate what we can. And to tell you about what they do. Maybe one day I'll go from donating money to raising money to get myself to South Dakota to help Simply Smiles, or to Cambodia to help the Wat Opot Community. Or anywhere in the country for Habitat for Humanity. Or anything else that may come up.