UNY local churches support the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota
The Rev. Penny Brink, currently serving South Glenn Falls UMC, created a personal mission in 2014, to help support residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the second poorest nation in the Northern Hemisphere, second to Haiti.
Rev. Brink said, “The mission started as a required trip for my ordination journey and has continued since 2014. I wrote an article published in the Lakota Times in 2015. What is beautiful is how this has lit a fire for the continuation of this mission, not just from the church I serve but the other two churches (Round Lake UMC and Malta Ridge UMC) I was serving when this all began in 2014.”
Rev. Brink continued, “The mission started with a dream and a seed of mine and my brother Frank who was a photographer and continues to this day. The churches I had been serving continue to send a yearly donation for fuel. It's so cold there, and the people are so poor, every year, some people literally freeze to death in their homes.”
Rev. Brink’s parishioners have become very passionate about this ministry that they have extended support for the reservation’s residents beyond fuel.
One parishioner, Megan Brocks, started cold calling corporations and connected with the people from REI who put out donation boxes, and employees donated truckloads of brand-new REI gear, such as boots, hats, coats, gloves, and more. Two full semitrucks delivered the gear to the Singing Horse Trading Post in Pine Ridge last winter.
Eyeglasses have also been added to this ministry.
Rev. Brink said, “I went to Pine Ridge with Dr. Mairs (of Round Lake, NY), an eye surgeon, who did free eye exams in a shed on the prairie because it takes them over a year to get an eye appointment. Several optometrists in the Albany area donated glasses. We shipped the frames back to New York, they grounded the lenses to the prescriptions, and we shipped them back to the reservation.”
Rev. Brink recollected the happiness of one little girl on the reservation, “She put on a trial pair of glasses while waiting for her mom to be examined, looked out at the hills, and said, ‘I CAN SEE THE HORSES!’”
Many of the children don't do well in school because they can't see the blackboard.
Another young boy with Down's Syndrome never had an eye exam because he couldn't read and was able to be examined by Dr. Mairs because he had a symbol chart instead of one with letters. His parents were thrilled.
Another ministry that has begun to help support the Pine Ridge Reservation is a sock ministry. The children at the nursery school at South Glenn Falls UMC have started a sock collection and already have hundreds of pairs of socks to donate.
If you want to know more about the ministry to help the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, contact Rev. Penny Brink at firstname.lastname@example.org.