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Final Glimpses – Final Thoughts

Here’s to all the volunteers, those dedicated people who are helping others.  Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.  I can no other answer make, but, thanks and thanks. – a merging of various quotes by Linda

Friday Morning (David)

Even drizzle doesn't stop this team!

Even drizzle doesn’t stop this team!

It’s Friday the 13th, the beginning to an end of a wonderful week.  As some team members headed off to their daily job assignments we waited. (“patience”)  Joan was taken to the E.R. to have her wrist checked out.  The doctor determined it to be a strained tendon (“self awareness” and “positive attitude”)  meanwhile the painting projects were rained out; thus some job assignments were changed (“balance and flexability”) As we drove down the highway towards St. Mary’s, we never caught up with the Manpower group.  So we decided to pick up litter along the highway near a creek (“positive attitude, compromise and flexibility”) We easily filled a large trash bag with litter, mostly beer bottles.  In the creek something was spotted, we thought to be a rather old and large beaver dam (“assume the best”).  We proceeded back to town and over to the Manpower center where they provided us with a feed, consisting of sandwiches, chips and cookies.  All in all, we had fun (“there’s no I in team or volunteer, humor and have fun”).

Afternoon (Peter)

Observations:  The BCC Medicine Spring Library Director, Virginia Weeks, has worked here 6 years. From Illinois, she received her second master’s degree from Montana State University in Boseman, in counseling. Her first was in library science.

MT Darryl

Darryl Wippert – One of the Faces We’ll Remember

George Kipp director of Manpower, the One Stop tribal agency for everything from pregnant teens to veterans and those in between, is perpetually optimistic. Clifford Whitegrass, Sheryl Tail Feathers, Tomylisea, and their colleagues, operate programs in which we all have been involved. Taken together, they are part of the development infrastructure – from education to job certification – that is being deployed to do the near impossible: Help Blackfeet get out of poverty through education, creating jobs through vocational education, and stemming the flow of registered Blackfeet who leave for better opportunities elsewhere….Lest there be any doubt, We are appreciated.

Saturday, June 14, 2014:  Message  by Joan

“Success is not final, Failure is not fatal,  It is the courage to continue that counts.”  -Winston Churchill

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said.  People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”  -Maya Angelou

Thank you to all.  It was an inspiring, uplifting and educational week.  I hope we contributed as much as we learned!

Poetry, Playtime and a Perfect Day

Message – (David Littlepage)

There’s only one method of meeting life’s test

Just keep on striving and hope for the best

Don’t give up the ship and quit in dismay

‘Cause hammers were thrown when you’d like a bouquet

This world would be tiresome; we’d all get the blues

If all the folks in it, held the same views

So finish your work, show the best of your skill

Some folks won’t like it but, other folks will.

            -David’s Grandfather


Journal –(Brendan Kehoe and Jonathan Wenn)

V – is for the van that we all drive in

O – is for one bathroom that we share

L – is for the long lasting friendships that we form

U – is for the unbelievable view

N – is for nature

E – is for engaging conversations

E – is for emerging ideas

R – is for the rest that we all need


Helping out at the summer recreation program.

This afternoon, we took the Science Camp children to the cafeteria for their lunch.  They grabbed their trays and scooted right in next to us.  It was very different from Monday, when we had to gather up the courage to approach each child who gazed at us with suspicion.  Were they thinking:  “Who were these outsiders invading our cafeteria?”  Kaelee, Kelsey, Gabby and Connor had become our first and best friends from Science Camp.  They offered us the graham crackers from their lunches while teaching us the infinite uses for ranch dressing.  We concluded our meal by sharing a few fresh strawberries.

Off to the Carole White program-swimming, bowling, basketball and art.  I met Lea, a high school senior who’s in the running for a Gates Foundation Scholarship that would pay for her education and expenses at Stanford.  It’s her dream school and she hopes to become a psychologist, return to Browning and work for Indian Health Services.  This is a dream worth preserving.

We organized a volleyball game, and the kids decided to change it to a challenge between girls and boys. We ran with it.  Sevannah was on the playground with some younger kids.  They followed her from structure to structure on the playground like ducklings in a row.  Inesa was teaching girls to play her favorite school yard-handball.  They were having a blast.  I’ve come to understand, now more than ever, that all kids — from Los Angeles to Browning, Montana — need love, attention, and positive adult interaction.

Finally, off to DeBoos Ranch, a place of majestic views and horses.  We were fed a delicious barbeque and had a chance for relaxed conversation.  The girls had a chance to feed calves, hold puppies and meet a pig named Mo.  We saddled up in two groups for a breathtaking ride into Big Sky Country.  We were protected by two cattle dogs as we crossed the Plains while glancing over at the wild mustangs.  We reached the apex of our journey where we could see the mountains of Glacier National Park framed by nearer foothills.  The views extended 100 miles, Chuck told us.  It took our breath away.  Already beginning to anticipate the saddle soreness we would soon feel, we dismounted at the cabin – a perfect ending to a wonderful evening.

Settling Into a Comfortable Routine

“What will I give to those around me today?  One cannot feel self worth without giving.” – Hisham E. Rouby

Morning – (Jonna)

Blackfeet Community College

Blackfeet Community College

After the message was given by Karyn and the journal was read by Joan, the team followed Smokey, the maintenance director of the college, to tour the state-of-the-art science and math building on the BCC campus.  The building is named Southwind Ledge and is designed as a lodge or Teepee with mountain designs around the bottom of the building and suns around the top, which Smokey said represents the Big Dipper.  Sensors inside the building signal the window blinds to open or close automatically based on the required temperature.  The lights in the classrooms come on automatically as someone enters and turn off as everyone leaves.  The temperature on the thermostats signals the heated floors to control the desired temperature.  Smokey explained how heat and air are recycled.  He stated that he now carries a computer instead of tools as he had in the past.

After the building tour, the team members went to their work stations.  Jean and Linda returned to the high school to help students sign up for online courses for the summer.  Dorothy and Samantha returned to the Nurturing Center.  Karyn returned to the nursing home.  Ann Marie helped in the library after the nurse at the school did not show up due to sickness.  Andrew also helped in the library but didn’t get to read to children because no one showed up.  He instead designed a colorful flyer on the computer to advertise the social hour at the library.  Beth, Brendan and Peter returned to Manpower to continue setting up a website for pregnancy prevention.  Joan, Savannah and Inessa returned to the elementary school and Carol White Program.  David built two industrial garbage cans.  Gina cleaned out a storage room that will be used for security operation.  Jonna, Sarah and Gail returned to Eagle Shield Assisted Living to help Maria and Sissy in the kitchen in serving meals to the residents along with Tribal workers and others in the community 60 years and older.  Jonna spoke to the elderly gentlemen dressed in a black hat, large belt buckles and jeans and asked if he was a rancher.  He replied “no,” and that “when he was out in the world he was a sinner.”  He stated that he was in and out of jails until he found God and now lived in peace and happiness.

MT care centerGail told Jonna she met a 90 year-old lady that came through the lunch line that told her she was a paralegal and had been one for 30 years.  This peeked Jonna’s interest and she sat down and spoke to her at the lunch table.  She said her name was Serta and that she worked as a paralegal for the Tribal Leaders’ Legal Dept.  Jonna asked what was the most interesting case she was ever involved in handling.  She said they represented a man that the housing authority had brought a case against for keeping his horse in the kitchen.  Serta said she researched the law and found no law against keeping a horse in the kitchen, so they won the case.

We spoke to the ladies at the front desk and they taught us how to say white woman in the Blackfeet language – Napi Anki (Na bee ah gee) and white man – Napi Kaan (Napigwan)

On the bulletin board at Eagle Shield we found some of the interesting and descriptive Blackfeet names in this community:  Makes Cold Weather, Rides at the Door, Still Smoking, Dog Taking Gun,  Comes at Night, Kicking Women, Bird Rattler, Three Fingers, Arrow Top Knot.

Afternoon (Inesa Wenn)

Wednesday afternoon, we went to help out at the Carol White summer recreation program and took the kids to lunch next door and then we walked back with them. After lunch, we worked at the art center and helped the children who needed help. They were making stories about a fisherman and his son.  They all needed to make a story to get in to the art room.  Then we went outside to the basketball courts and some older kids were swarming around Dad (which was kind of funny).

After dinner, we went to the Museum of the Plains Indians.  I looked at many of the exhibits and watched a 15-minute show. In the evening, most of us went to Beaver Painted Lodge to watch a video about Indian dance.  Their costumes were extremely colorful – beaded with fancy headdresses and necklaces. The dancers moved swiftly.  They turned, twisted, shuffled, spun gracefully, stomped and twirled expressively.  One of my favorite instruments that was playing was the flute. It was all very fast paced.  The dancers had excellent hand-eye coordination and quick movements.  It was beautiful!

And So It Goes….Team 103 in Browning

Message – Ginia Littlepage

If you’re living life in the fast lane, remember when to turn off, or you may find yourself heading in the wrong direction.  As the old saying goes . . . take time out to smell the roses.

Before Lunch (by Sam)

caring for children on the Blackfeet Reservation

Outside the nurturing center. (No Photos are allowed inside to protect the children.)

This morning, my grandma, Dorothy, and I worked at the Nurturing Center. When we arrived, the children were just waking up and they were watching TV. After which they went outside to play.

The play-space they have is incredible, there is so much grass and there is an area for playthings. The children have some issues that can be dealt with. We played with the children on bikes and pretended that one of the playthings was a café and ordered imaginary food.

We played with the children for 2 hours after which the three oldest ones, aged around 5-7, went to the Carol White recreation program. We learned that for the children to be eligible for the program, that they have to be enrolled in Kindergarten or going into Kindergarten the following school year.

During lunch, we talked with one of the staff members about the program. It was humbling to hear these children’s stories and I realized how lucky I am to have loving parents that care about me.

I am enjoying my work at the Nurturing Center and I can’t wait to work there for the rest of this week!

After Lunch – (Joan)

This morning, Linda and I reported to the high school for our tutoring assignment.  The Global Volunteer flexibility characteristic became immediately apparent. We weren’t needed for tutoring, but for another assignment. This was day 1 of the high school summer session with all courses to be taught online – including tutoring.  We found dozens of students in 3 large classrooms, staring at computers, trying to establish their personal accounts.  Our task was to assist anyone having difficulty with this. The teacher confided in us that, in past years, summer school has been fun, with more field trips than work assignments.  This new digital curriculum is demanding and the kids are resentful.  A tough crowd!  Nevertheless, we connected with a few students, stayed through the morning, and will return tomorrow.

Beth reviewing work assignment at Manpower.

Beth reviewing work assignment at the Manpower Office.

For our afternoon assignment, Linda and I  worked on  inventory at the Painted Lodge shop where Brendan was already hard at work. This project went smoothly. The rest of the team had been busy throughout the community.  In the afternoon, many people continued their morning activities:  Sarah, Jonna, and Gayle (joined by Anne Marie who knocked ‘em dead with her diabetes presentation) completed the kitchen clean-up at Eagle Shield.  David and Andrew finished repairing the Global Volunteers shed.  Samantha and Dorothy spent their second day at the Nurturing Center.  And Peter and Beth, at the Manpower office, focused on veterans’ issues and teen pregnancy, including setting up two websites and assisting in developing a 501c3.

The Wenns helped supervise kindergarten bowling (and Inessa spent extra time with her new friend Mia.). Ginna was rained out after painting the fence in the morning, but did a little straightening and organizing at the maintenance shed. So –  another busy in a variety of locations around Browning.

cultural lessons on the Blackfeet Reservation

Global Volunteers host, Bob Tailfeathers, explaining dance regalia.

After dinner, Bob Tailfeathers gave a presentation on the different styles of Indian dance and its costume elements.  These include Traditional Dance (which he prefers) and Fancy Dance (which is faster and more colorful.). He brought a bustle made of eagle feathers, a dancing stick with an eagle claw and rabbit fur, a headdress – or roach – made of porcupine quills and a deer tail, and a shield of stretched deer rawhide.

Bob has been acquiring these treasures for years.  If they were purchased today, they would cost about $3,000. Before displaying several examples of his jewelry and drawings, Bob told us briefly about the terrible conflict within the Tribal Council that has torn the community apart. Several of our hosts have referred to this situation as well.  The recent election appears to offer hope that improvements are ahead. And so it goes for Browning Team 103.

Monday: An Eventful Day

“You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”  Winston Churchill 

Team Kitchen (Gail, Jenna and Sarah)

volunteer on the Blackfeet Reservation

A lunchtime “assembly line” at Eagle Shield!

The day started with toasting and buttering 10 loaves of bread, with Jenna setting up tables for lunch and wrapping and sealing 100 or more utensils.  Gail was sent on her way with Paul to deliver 78 meals for homebound seniors with sneakers on and unbounded energy. Jenna and I spent the next few hours serving lunch to wonderful seniors and acquainting ourselves with Maria’s and Sissy’s cleaning system. The remainder of the day was helping prepare the evening meal by shucking corn. When Jonna asked about tartar sauce to accompany the trout, Maria immediately started on her very secret recipe. We are spoiled.

Flood Memorial, Nurturing Center, Summer Recreation

The day started slowly but it was a very enlightening experience.  Half of our team (Peter, Andrew, Beth, Brendan, Linda, Joan, Anne Marie and David) went to the 50th Anniversary Memorial for the Flood of 1964.  That flood devastated this community after the Two Medicine and Birch Creek earthen dams broke after 8 days of heavy rains.  Many people lost their lives and the stories of that day resulted in a celebration and affirmation of Blackfeet unity and pride. Ginia reported that the highlight of the day was a conversation with a man named Gordon who was informative and generous with his time and stories – a true reflection of his people.

Sam and Dorothy- We went to the Nurturing Center for the first time. We worked with kids & that was very satisfying yet sobering situation.

The Wenn Family – went to the elementary school and helped with the Carol White Program in the art room.


Sweat Lodge Experience

No picture or painting could ever be able to do justice to the beautiful scenery that we drove through on the way to the sweat lodge – vast fields sprinkled with lakes, rolling hills before the ever present backdrop of the mountains and beautiful sky.

We arrived on “Indian time” to experience more Indian time as our hosts were experiencing a family emergency.  We waited patiently (one the attributes of a good team) and after about an hour, we were invited into the lodge.  Five hot rocks from the fire were placed in the pit in the middle of the lodge and we were informed about the process and what to do in the event that we felt we were no longer okay with the extreme heat.  Placing our towels over our head helped a bit, getting lower, laying down all were helpful (believe me I tried them all).  As a last resort you are given “The secret” that if you pull away the carpet, down in the corner by the wall, you will feel the relief of the cool ground.

We all presented our offerings of tobacco and told Tom, our host and Sweat Lodge leader, what we would be praying for and special initial prayers were said over burning tobacco and herbs on each of our behalves.  There were prayers and songs and then our first break.  Four of us stayed out after the first break, feeling as though we had accomplished our goal of experiencing this part of the Blackfeet culture.  After declining politely, Joan and Linda took a long and lovely walk around the countryside to see more of the landscape and horses, and Brendan and I sat by the fire and chatted – a precious experience for a mother who will see her firstborn go off to college in a year.

Andrew was a trooper as he continued – helping bring to bring in the hot rocks and hot water – they told him to come back Monday as he was “hired.” He reflected:  “I saw it as a great experience and you had time to zone out and focus on what was going on in there in the moment - listening to their prayers and chants.”

June 2014 – First Week on the Rez

volunteering in Browning, Montana

The team assembles at Eagle Shield Center.

Today was our first full day on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  After a much needed good night’s sleep, we helped ourselves to just about anything anyone could ever want for breakfast from our well-stocked kitchen.

We then proceeded to Eagle Shield Center for our morning orientation, presented by our leaders Hu Di and Drew. First on the agenda was a discussion of the philosophies of the service for Global Volunteers.

  • We do whatever we are asked to do
  • We go where we are needed
  • We always take direction from the local people

Policies and guidelines were explained, followed by an exercise to arrive at team goals:   learning about Blackfeet community, to positively impact and inspire children, to strengthen individual developments, to build relationships, to labor and act, and to achieve personal growth.

After a brief break, we were asked to list separately on 3 individual index cards, 3 areas we would like to participate in while we are here. These were then placed on a board and arranged according to our priorities. From this list, we will each receive our assignments.

It was very energizing morning during which we developed a list of characteristics for successful group interaction including: being a good listener, being flexible, cooperating, having a positive attitude, being patient, accepting differences, and having fun.  After sharing all this information, we are certain to be the best team that the Blackfeet Community has ever worked with!  With great respect and admiration for our team leaders, we look forward to a successful week.

Drew presented our new projects including AmeriCorps Vistas, youth employment, etc.  He said that the Native Americans were most impressed that the volunteers paid to be here.  He then described the following opportunities:  Labor, elder-care, playground, college library, community development, Blackfeet community college, care center, child services, basketball camp, and high school summer program.


We stopped at Duck Lake to admire Chief Mountain.

I’m sure we all agree that Sunday afternoon was the most spectacular experience when we toured the reservation along Glacier National Park.  I think it started with the wildlife with the first sighting of the cattle spaced out in vast areas.  The horses appeared with new colts and then I was surprised to see buffalo.  The drive was awesome watching us getting us nearer to the Rocky Mountains.  We stopped at an over-look to take a team picture.  We all made it through the barbed wire with help from the volunteers.

We continued on to St. Mary Lodge to see a stuffed grizzly, gifts and coffee.  As we drove, we saw a lot of cars parked on the side of the road and realized that there was a black bear feeding fairly close to the road.  The highlight was reaching the waterfalls at Many Glacier Hotel.  This hotel was actually lifted up to restore a new foundation.  Just as we were leaving the camping area, we saw a beautiful deer.  The views on drive were breathtakingly beautiful.   We are grateful that we had two vans and the time to explore this wonderful landscape and we appreciate the efforts of our team leaders.

Our Final Day – A Treasured Week Ends in West Virginia

Friday, October 12, 2012

Volunteering in West Virginia
A Farewell Concert – Our Final Day


We arose in the morning to a crisp, sunny day, ate our breakfast, had our usual morning meeting, and then were off to our work site by 8:45AM.  We started working on semi-individual projects, because we were preparing the Historic Oak Hill School for its “coming out “party to the community on Saturday evening.  After lunch, we were informed that the Solid Rock Church would be having services this evening.  Projects worked on were:  stairwell painting, “mudslinging,” vacuuming carpet on second floor and stairwells.  We quickly discovered that cleaning the stairwells was meaningless, unless done at the end of the day, because the sanding dust walked right on in on the shoes.  We also cleaned all the windows and then de-taped the ones already painted.
            For our lunch break, we had some homemade potato soup, whipped up by the staff; Artie supplied BBQ and fried chicken, baked beans and mac salad and sodas.  A lot of the young men (the work crew of SALS) joined us at the tables and talked with us.  Of the 3 who sat with us, none had a stable father in their lives.  One of them entertained us with his guitar, self-taught, and his is able to play 7 instruments.
            Artie picked us up at 3:45, after we said our final goodbyes to the staff and young men of SALS.  We dropped off two of them on our way back to our “home”, up a definite one lane stone road named Easy Street!!   Once home, we relaxed for a while.  We will be going out to eat with Artie, at Pies and Pints, a pizza place.  When we return, we will have our surprise/goodbye party.

                                                                                    Written by Mariana

Team 80Our Final Celebration Cake –  
Thanks to Stephanie & John
Artie – What Hat Are You Wearing Today?
Good Bye Beautiful West Virginia
We Had A Great Time!

Two Final Thoughts for the day….
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
 “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”             Robert Brault
                                                                                       Shared  by John
Many Thanks to Everyone We Encountered & Worked With
Sharing The Good Times !!Wonderful!!

Global Volunteers Volunteering in West Virginia

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Every Day Is Special

Anna woke everyone up as we shared our breakfast and coffee by sharing a volunteer experience she had through Assistance Link. The story was about a little boy who was receiving a bag of clothing.  He did not understand why he was being given so much.   He worked through this puzzling question and came up with the answer….because I am special.

Pat continued her work with Frank studying for his GED. Several times she has expressed to the group his intelligence and potential. I have no doubt she expressed this to him during their time together. What a wonderful gift of encouragement for him.   I have no doubt he feels special after this week.

We have all worked hard this week at the Historic Oak Hill School (pictured), which is being renovated to be used as a community resource…painting, sanding, hanging drywall and many other misc. tasks. But mostly as the work has progressed we have discovered how each of the young men in the Youth Build program is special. On our 4th day, Jon Jon, in the absence of Jimmy, the project manager, took the initiative to show management skills and leadership by giving the volunteers instruction on the drywall.   John and others in the group gave him positive feedback for his efforts—expressing his good management potential. We were all rewarded by smiles and the look of happiness on his face as he went back to work.

Jody joined the work site after a three month break. He was unable to find a job and rejoined the program.  We discovered and enjoyed talking with him about his musical talents. He plays seven instruments. Anna was surprised while washing her paint brush to see a foot sticking out of the wall. She found Boo Boo working in a small hole on the plumbing. She captured a short video of him and his work. Talking to him about this was the most animated we have seen him all week. He was excited to be the star of his own mini feature of “who is the hole”.

Thought for the day….   

“When did we see you hungry,and feed you; when did we see you thirsty, and give you drink; when were you naked, and we gave you clothing; when were you sick, and we visited you; when were you a stranger and we welcomed you? And Jesus answered, When you have done this to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it to me.”           Matthew 25:  34-36
Shared by Mariana


A Mid Week Reflection In West Virginia

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Volunteering in West Virginia is the best family volunteer opportunity available
Pat With Students At Adult Learning Center
In the work week, Wednesday is “hump day; in Beard’s Fork it was “click day.”  While I can’t say we were humming to the tunes that Billy Payne sang last night, we were moving with a familiar rhythm to the jobs waiting for us at the historic Oak Hill School. Anna, Jay and Mariana finished painting the staircase under the eagle eye of Dale, a local resident, and then they moved on to painting the long brick walls in the hallway.  Stephanie added painting to her West Virginia portfolio while John and Ruth completed the refinishing of the handrails for the staircases before spackling and taping the dry wall- in local parlance, “slinging mud.”

While it was great to see such progress, the best part of the day was getting to know and work with the SALS students and staff more than we did yesterday.  There was much more interaction and I would like to think they were becoming more comfortable having us around, too.  Besides their names and nicknames, we’re learning what makes them tick, who’s related to who, and what goals some of them have set.  For some the goal is a GED or a trade certificate; for others it’s getting a paycheck.   Most hope to make their life and raise their families right here in Fayette County.  We volunteers realize that they might be wondering what makes us tick. Artie told us that they think we’re a little bit crazy to pay to do the work we’re doing.   I hope that by Friday they’ll understand that we like doing this and we’re actually having fun.

We miss seeing Pat during the work day and look forward to hearing about her day when we get back to the dorm.  She described her work with a middle-aged student who, she learned today, is incarcerated and bussed to her school for the class.  She found him to be bright with a good chance of passing the exam with some consistent support.  Sadly, the regular school staff did not demonstrate the imagination or flexibility for helping him succeed.

Paint and sparkle showered off, we hopped on the van to join Artie for dinner at Benny’s Bar and Grill in Montgomery, a town about 15 miles of hair-raising switchbacks away.  With full stomachs, the ride home seemed a lot easier and much faster. For the first time this week, we saw bright stars in the Appalachian sky.

One more treat waited for us – Phyllis’ homemade apple pie!

Written by Ruth

Jay & Ruth With Their Railing Project



Where’s Anna?                                               Oh! There She Is!

Thought for the Day….

“A story about a little poor boy, who was receiving a bag of clothing.  He did not understand why he was being given so much.  He worked through this puzzling question and came up with an answer,,,,,’because I am special’”

Shared by Anna


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