Sunday, December 21, 2008

LINK Collaboration Brings Hope on Pine Ridge

Collaboration Brings Hope, “as funding allows”
Link Center Foundation and NAMA Join Efforts
by Stephanie M. Schwartz
President, Link Center Foundation

Freelance Writer
Member, Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
November 29, 2008
Collaboration Brings Hope, “as funding allows”

In mid-November, 2008, Link Center Foundation’s long-standing Emergency Heating/Utility Assistance Program for the elders, disabled, and seriously ill residents of the Lakota (Sioux) Reservations in South Dakota began a collaborative effort with NAMA, the Native American Music Association (which produces the Native American Music Awards known as Nammys) to better serve the elders and disabled on the Lakota Reservations with their emergency heating needs.
In a winter which has already produced a blizzard of mammoth proportions, there is an urgent and ever-greater need to act now to find funding for this winter-long assistance program. With unemployment reaching up to 85%, a 33% increase in fuel costs, and average monthly incomes roughly $350 or less, the elderly and disabled are the most at-risk population.
To make matters even more serious, according to the last census, nearly 60% of all elders are raising grandchildren or great-grandchildren in their home.
However, the key phrase, “as funding allows,” influences everything (including hope). Unfortunately, the national economy has been on a downward spiral and donations to non-profits reflect that condition. Giving to worthy causes has diminished everywhere. Nonetheless, the critical life-threatening needs still exist on the reservations.
This collaboration of Link Center Foundation and NAMA seeks to better provide a little hope and emergency assistance with the help of contributions from the public. No amount is too small.
Link Center Foundation
is a small, grassroots all-volunteer 501c3 non-profit organization in Colorado. It has been working to help on the Lakota reservations of South Dakota since 2000. Its formal Emergency Heating/Utility Assistance program has been active since 2005. It seeks to serve all 9 Lakota (Sioux) Reservations in South Dakota as funding allows. 95% of all donations to the Emergency Heating/Utility program are used solely for that program (propane, electricity, and/or wood) and the remaining 5% covers bank and credit/debit card processing fees and other necessary operating costs.
NAMA, the Native American Music Association,
is also a 501c3 non-profit organization and is located in New York City. Responding initially to the mammoth blizzard and crisis conditions in early November 2008, NAMA wishes to continue to help provide emergency winter heating assistance to the elders and disabled on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Lakota (Sioux) Reservations for the winter of 2008-2009. Collaborating with Link Center Foundation’s emergency heating program serves that purpose. NAMA’s response has also initiated and coordinated numerous clothing drives to benefit both those reservations.
According to NAMA President, Ellen Bello, the inspiration for their entire organization was given by the youth on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations over 12 years ago. Therefore, through these programs, NAMA endeavors to come full circle and assist those who are most in need on those two reservations this winter.
As a point of information, Federal LHEAP and Tribal Assistance Programs each offer low-income families approximately $300 in fuel credit per year. With the current rate of propane at $2.20 per gallon, this provides only 136 gallons – about enough fuel for 2 to 4 weeks (depending on the weather).
Additionally, propane companies have raised their required minimum amounts of propane to be purchased before delivery to a home. Currently, the minimums for delivery are $125 to $355, depending on the company. This makes families struggle even harder to accumulate enough funds at one time to ensure a delivery.
To assist these elders, disabled, or seriously ill Lakota, donations may be made to either Link Center Foundation or NAMA through their respective websites (by secure credit card or bank debit card transactions) or by mail to either organization. Donations should to be marked “heating assistance program” in the memo section of any check.
Donations may also be made through Network for Good which is powered by GuideStar, the leading source of reputable information on United States Non-Profits. Simply visit their website, and type Link Center Foundation or Native American Music Association under “charity name.”
Applications for the elders and disabled are available at the Link Center Foundation website and the NAMA website as well as at local centers on the reservations like the district CAP (Community Action Program) Offices on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Applications are also available through Native Village Publications at their website
Link Center Foundation screens and processes all emergency assistance applications sent to both organizations. Then, Link Center Foundation and NAMA decide which applications shall be funded by their respective organizations. Each organization maintains and administers its own funds. All payments are made directly to the fuel vendors.
At the current time, approximately $150 worth of fuel is being allotted per qualified application, as funding allows. For propane users, this provides approximately 7-10 days of heat, depending on weather conditions.
Please join Link Center Foundation and NAMA in reaching out to those who need our help. Your contributions will provide a little extra hope and warmth for the elders, the ill, and disabled on the Lakota reservations. Help us work within the circle to make this a better world for all.
Link Center Foundation
Att: Emergency Heating/Utility Assistance Program
P.O. Box 576 – Firestone, CO 80520-0576
Phone and FAX: 303-833-6520 Toll Free Phone: 888-220-1653
Native American Music Association, Inc
Att: Winter Aid Relief
511 Avenue of the Americas #371 - New York NY 10011
Phone: 212-228-8300 FAX: 646-688-6883
(click on “Special Programs”)
Stephanie M. Schwartz may be reached at
-Stephanie M. Schwartz
Freelance Writer and Editor
Member, Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
President, Link Center Foundation

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