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


    Diane said...

    Please cross-post this at The Wild Wild Left, or give me permission to do so on your behalf.

    Hopefully my readership will be able to help!!

    Peace Diane W


    Erynn said...

    I heard about your work and your troubles at the Pretty Bird Woman House blog and have passed the word to my friends on LiveJournal. I've also made a small donation, so I hope that my friends will pass the word along as so many folks did for PBWH last year.

    Good luck!

    Anonymous said...

    I have to wonder why nobody is mentioning that a significant factor related to their funding "running out" is that one of the SD Coalition's past directors was turned in for - and pled guilty to - embezzlement. There have been long-standing questions about the SD Coalition's "bookkeeping" practices and their spending. With some re-prioritizing of the spending of this organization and its sister programs, they could quite easily support this shelter. (And no, I am not caucasian. I am a reservation born and raised Native American working in the non-profit arena in SD.)

    Andy Ternay said...

    Hi Anonymous,

    What purpose would it serve? We talk about the embezzlement and we wind up with donors worried their money will be stolen - never mind that My Sister Friends' House was the victim in this case.

    Also, why would we want to alienate the good people at the SD Coalition? One crook does not mean an organization is corrupt. SD Coalition wants to help; I believe that they will do what they can. I won't do anything to chase that away.

    Lastly, so what? They lost a grant and money was stolen. Different disasters - same result: battered women and sexual assault victims not getting shelter and safety.

    Much more important to focus on keeping the doors open at MSFH in my opinion.

    ☼ ♥ Dog Mom ♥ ☼ said...

    Kim - beautiful picture of you in the Argus Today!! I will pass the word about your show and needs for donations.

    Jeni McNamara