Renovations Bring New Life to Volunteer Housing

posted August 05, 2016 

Walking through either of Red Cloud’s campuses, around nearly every corner you will find a volunteer serving the community. They might be teaching kindergarteners how plants grow, preparing the students to nurture their own plants in the school greenhouse. They might be working with high school seniors to complete their college and scholarship applications—helping them to define the next steps in their education. They might be on the playing field, coaching and cheering on their student athletes. And they will almost certainly be up before dawn, starting the school buses and driving their routes to make sure every Red Cloud student can come to school to learn and grow.

Life on Red Cloud’s campus simply wouldn’t work without volunteers. Each year, 22 recent college graduates come to live in community on the Pine Ridge Reservation as volunteers—contributing tens of thousands of hours of service as teachers, coaches, mentors, counselors, and much, much more. And because housing is extremely limited on the Pine Ridge Reservation, every volunteer lives right on one of Red Cloud’s campuses, sharing small houses and cottages with other fellow volunteers.

Recently, a group of committed donors learned that Red Cloud’s volunteer housing was in desperate need of renovations: the small cottage and housing shared by all the volunteers had not been updated in well over 25 years. They responded with renewed support, providing a “challenge gift” to encourage other donors to get involved. The combined generosity of this group is allowing staff at Red Cloud to bring new life to volunteer housing this summer through a series of much-needed updates. 

“As always, we are humbled and honored by the tremendous support our donors who make these renovations possible and for recognizing the incredible work of Red Cloud volunteers,” said Fr. George Winzenburg, SJ, Red Cloud’s president. “When we launched this fundraising challenge, our donors went above and beyond to ensure our volunteers have the resources they need to live well during their time at Red Cloud. They understand how much our volunteers do and what their service means to this community and to the lives of our students.”

The renovations—which are currently underway—will make on-campus housing more comfortable for Red Cloud’s hard-working volunteers. On Red Cloud’s main campus, in the home that ten volunteers share, three bathrooms are being remodeled and fresh paint and new carpet will refresh the living spaces, kitchen, and bedrooms. There will be a new stove added for preparing shared meals, new couches for relaxing after long days of work and two new washer/dryer units for laundry.

In another, smaller house nearby, the kitchen is being remodeled with new cabinets and a new stove, microwave and refrigerator. The six volunteers living there will benefit from the updated bathrooms and new carpet and couches added to the living room. And on the Our Lady of Lourdes campus, volunteer bathrooms will be remodeled during the holiday break in December.

For Maka Akan Najin Clifford '05, a Red Cloud alum and former teacher who now directs the volunteer program, these renovations mean much more than just making volunteer housing more pleasant. For him, they honor the hard work and sacrifices volunteers make each and every day.

“As a student at Red Cloud, I saw first-hand how much volunteers mean to this community. They play so many roles and bring such extraordinary talents and knowledge with them—about everything from literature and poetry to plant science and nutrition. They help make possible a truly holistic education, which ensures our students are successful and well-rounded,” said Maka.

“They serve in order to provide our students with support, to open their eyes to new worlds, and to provide them with tremendous opportunities to learn. So being able to make their lives better during their time here at Red Cloud is an incredible gift.”

If you, too, would like to lend your support to the Red Cloud Volunteer Program, please contact the Advancement Office at (605) 867-1105.


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Photos © Red Cloud Indian School