Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Introducing My Sister Friends' House

I know times are tough right now; a lot of people are out of work, others are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Prices are rising on the necessities.

But I am asking you to stop and see if you have $20 or $10 or even $5 to spare for My Sister Friends' House - Mita Maske Ti Ki.

They have lost their grant funding and face closure by September if they don't get enough funding to continue to operate as a shelter. They need $11,000 by August 31st to operate through September.

The end goal is $35,000 by September 30th - three months of operating expenses as they apply for grant funding and get established out on their own.

How This Happened
Mita Maske Ti Ki has been helping women and children escape from Domestic Violence and sexual assault in Sioux Falls and neighboring communities since 2000. Their clientele has been primarily Native American, up to 85% of the women they see identify as Native American. They have operated under the auspices of other Domestic Violence prevention programs... the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assualt (SDCADVSA) and more recently, Project Safe. However, the grants used by these organizations to fund Mita Maske Ti Ki have run out and, like so many social services in this day and age, have not been renewed.

It's not like these organizations don't want to fund Mita Maske Ti Ki - Chris Jongelingwith the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SDCADVSA) emailed me today to let me know:
Mita Maske Ti Ki (My Sister's Friend House) ihas fulfilled a burgeoning need in Sioux Falls. Many Native Americans in South Dakota do not live on reservations, and many women who have experienced domestic violence move to Sioux Falls because of its larger housing and job market...

...This program is not supported by State funding because there are so many programs and so little money that helping Mita would constitute a reduction in funding for other domestic violence programs. Mita was funded by a private Bush grant for several years, and when that private funding ran out there was a federal grant available to keep it afloat for one more year.

Both Project Safe and SDCADVSA want to see Mita Maske Ti Ki survive and thrive - they just don't have the means to make it happen.

So Mita Maske Ti Ki, My Sister Friends' House, is having to go it alone. They have started filing for grants, set up a temporary board of directors (Georgia Little Shield, Director of Pretty Bird Woman House is on the Board of Directors). They have also applied for 501 (c) (3) status as a non-profit but they have not received approval on that yet.

They have applied for several grants which are extremely competitive. There is no certainty that My Sister Friends' House will get any funding at all from them at this time, but if we bloggers, readers and commenters, can fund them through the next three months, that buys them the time to get more permanent funding.

They do have a house...
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Even if it does have some problems...
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And is kind of crumbling a little bit (winters are harsh in South Dakota)...
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But it also has a some very positive things to offer - like a playground for the kids.
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This modest house can shelter up to twelve women at a time and is full all the time. In fact, they often have to turn women away, referring them elsewhere because they do not have room. They do education and support services with the women seek shelter their and provide referrals to services beyond the scope of what My Sister Friends' House can currently offer.

Meet the Team
My Sister Friends' House has a two man woman crew - Meet Jolana and Kim (they sent me the photos and indicated it was okay to post them - Kim is very expecting in this picture and now has a child and a shelter to look after).

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Despite their youthful appearances, Jolana and Kim have run My Sister Friends' House for 3 years. Right now, the services they offer are pretty bare bones... basic domestic violence education, shelter and referrals. But they have big dreams for My Sister Friends' House:

  • Daycare so that women can look for jobs without having children in tow

  • Offer women training for job interviews and how to find jobs

  • Provide assistance in finding housing

  • Build a strong relationship with the community (police, social services, other shelters) so that they can maximize every potential aid for their clients

  • Education in Domestic Violence prevention, parenting and more

  • This is a chance to help them survive to pursue those dreams. Please, if you can afford to do so:


    Checks can go to:
    Mita Maske Ti Ki
    (My Sister Friends' House)
    PO Box 2141
    Sioux Falls, SD 57101

    Thank you.

    For more information on Native American Women and the horrifying situation they are in due to the confusing mass of conflicting laws please read:

    Quick Summary of Problems

    Full Amnesty International report on the issues

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Another News Story

    Again, from KELO:

    This is what your donation does - it saves lives.

    ...if the shelter shuts down, it would be a hardship for many women facing similar life and death situations.

    Mita Maske Ti Ki victim's advocate Kimberly St. John says, "So we're there to support them, empower them, to make them realize hey you can do this and we're going to stand by you the whole entire time."

    "Kelly" says, "They've given me the ability to stand on my feet, to get back that power that was taken from me."

    Something that will not happen anymore if the money for this shelter runs out.

    Rethinking the Fundraiser

    Before the research was complete and everything had been spelled out, we thought we needed to raise $35,000 by August 31st to avoid closure. In fact, Mita Maske Ti Ki has a monthly operating budget around $11,000 per month. If we can raise $11,000 by August 31st, we have insured that Mita Maske Ti Ki can stay open through September. Accordingly, we are adjusting the Chip In to reflect a deadline of September 31st for the full $35,000 goal.

    But the $11k by August 31st is no joke. Right now we have $570, which will cover most of the utilities, but that's about it.

    So please, if you can, donate!

    Thank you.

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    We Made The News!!

    KELO in Sioux Falls did a story about us!!

    Sioux Falls shelter for women and children who have been abused is at risk of shutting down.

    The shelter has been running on grants and federal funding since 2000, but those grants are coming to an end. Now the director says the women at the shelter may have to move out.

    The Mita Maske Ti Ki shelter, which means "My Sister Friends' House," houses about a dozen women and children who have left abusive homes and are trying to turn their lives around. But with their funding running out at the end of August, those victims of domestic violence could soon lose their sanctuary.

    Thank you KELO!!

    About the Fundraising Drive

    Mita Maske Ti Ki has experienced severe budget shortfalls due to changes in grants we rely upon. As of September 1, 2008 we will not have any funding.

    Thanks to our friends at the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and neighboring shelters, we have been able to submit for several new grants. However, it appears likely that these sources of funding are at least a couple of months away from arriving.

    In order to keep Mita Maske Ti Ki open, we need approximately $9,000 per month for our operating budget. This is a bare bones budget but will allow us to stay open to provide aid to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Our goal is to raise $35,000 รข?? enough for roughly three and a half months of operations. That will give us the breathing room needed to get some grant funding in place and secure our future.

    We ask that you donate to our operating fund and aid us through this difficult time. Your support is gratefully appreciated.

    **Important Tax Note**

    Mita Maske Ti Ki has submitted our application for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. We have not yet received approval on our application.

    About Mita Maske Ti Ki

    Mita Maske Ti Ki works towards ending violence against women and children. We provide safety services and advocacy to women and their children victimized by domestic violence. We are committed to offering a supportive, non-judgmental and empowering atmosphere in which individuals can explore options and make decisions in which planned outcomes are possible. We maintain that confidentiality is critical and indispensable in the provisions of services to women and children.