This past October, a delegation of our staff and volunteers visited the YMCA of the Seven Council Fires in South Dakota. Due to its location on the sovereign Cheyenne River Native American Reservation, this YMCA holds an international status among the other 120 countries our organization serves globally.
As part of the YMCA’s Diversity, Inclusion and Global Engagement initiative, this type of experience helps staff and volunteers better understand the communities that we serve. This learning is crucial to our mission of being an organization, “open to all.”
The experience also allows those passionate about our work to see another YMCA serving critical community needs in an impoverished country. We are proud that our colleagues provide essential childcare and STEM education to children and teens. We observed local seniors visit the YMCA to eat lunch, just a few of the thousands of meals a year served to those living in poverty.
We were also happy to represent our AMA YMCA community as volunteers by building transitional housing for single mothers and completing the construction of summer camp cabins at Camp Marrowbone.
Our group appreciated the rare opportunity to speak with a tribal elder, who told his story of reservation life and the challenges of growing up during an oftentimes forgotten or misunderstood period of American history, stretching back into the 1930s.
A special thanks to those who participated in this impactful experience, including Cory Brazeal, Sharon Gardner, Melissa Gross, Cheryl McCarver, Lisa Thompson (Board Member), Eric Tucker, Anna Wiskirchen and Felix Wong (Board Member).