Fourteen days ago, devilstower noted the impending closing of Pretty Bird Woman House (a Native American women's shelter) and asked, "Do you think we can help these folks?" As a community, you've answered, with a resounding "Oh hell yeah!"
As of 8:45 EST today, $25,745.18 has been raised in online donations. In addition, as of Saturday, the shelter had received an additional $5120.03 by way of checks sent in the mail. This $30,875 exceeds the shelter's emergency funding needs. You've done an exceptional thing over the past two weeks.
But, though I'm no longer asking for money, I'm still asking for help; it's not enough to provide an emergency cash infusion if the shelter cannot become self sustaining... and if the much larger issue of sexual and domestic violence against Native American women cannot be addressed in a more systematic way.
Although we have met the shelter's immediate need, I will leave the fundraiser open until the end of May, and donations are still gladly accepted.
After the jump, more on what else you can do, what this money buys the shelter, and some well-deserved thank yous.
Beyond helping this individual shelter, it is imperative that we work to address the inequities which lead to such high rates of sexual and domestic violence against Native American women. To that end, I urge all of you: show your support for the full funding of the Violence Against Women Act, particularly Title IX (The Tribal Title). (More on this later.)
Sustainability efforts for the shelter currently include an individual working to assist the shelter's director in blogging about the shelter, a team working on a web site for the shelter, and a team of grant writers that will be assisting the shelter in gaining government and private grants and funding. We continue to welcome volunteers in any of these efforts.
In addition, we can use immediate assistance in the following areas:
It's also important we continue to focus attention on the shameful state of affairs described in the Amnesty International report: Maze of Injustice. Please keep spreading the word. Tell your friends and family. Talk to your co-workers. Contact your local press. And keep blogging on this issue.
Researchers for the report have noticed our effort here, and would love to talk more with you about the report and the issues that it captures. We're still trying to decide on the best format for that interaction, so if you're interested, please check out the poll below.
Where Is Your Money Going?
The shelter's current financial difficulties arose from two factors:
The shelter did not have their non-profit status for the last major round of grant deadlines. Although the South Dakota Coalition provided what funds it could, they are also short on money; what funds they could provide ran out in April.
To deal with this financial emergency, the shelter's board of directors choose to lay off their only paid employee (the director), and planned to close the shelter later this month, when the funds for the phone lines ran out.
The Board of Directors expects that the coming round of grants this fall will meet their operational needs. We hope the volunteers on the grant writing team will help ensure this is the case. The money you've provided will (at minimum) allow the shelter to continue to operate until this next round of funding.
Because the Board wasn't expecting these generous donations -- and because they weren't aware of just how generous these donations would be -- they're still planning for how to best use the money (specifically what level of services to provide).
I'll continue to provide you with more information as the PBWH Board solidifies their strategic plans.
Finally, a personal joy: the chance to publicly acknowledge all of those that have made the continued work of Pretty Bird Woman House possible. First, from Georgia herself:
With all the emails and phone calls and radio and the Board meeting, I forgot to let you know that the wire came in.
I was thinking of you all day and tried to get back to you yesterday. The Board meeting went all day and was a lot of getting the accountant to understand where all the money was coming from. Oh it was a day yesterday. The Board is issuing a letter stating how thankful they are for the support.
I also wanted to let you know that we've received $5120.03 in donations through the mail. Oh it was a happy cry when we opened and read some of the notes that were sent. There were lots of tears from the Board members.
I did read a comment that asked about information for getting matching funds from employers. If any program or company wants to match, they just need to send me a fax number; I can fax out the IRS letter about our 501(c) 3 status. Let me know.
Thanks so much for all of your work.
Georgia Little Shield -- Director
Pretty Bird Woman House
Next, to the 664 individuals that donated online, and to the unknown number that have sent in checks: Thank You. Your generosity offers hope and assistance to women and children who have been otherwise ignored and forgotten.
Together, you have made an effort:
--To save a shelter.
--To stem the tide of violence against women in the Standing Rock region.
--To take the first steps in addressing the horrors described in the Amnesty International report that sparked this effort.
Beyond the donors, I'd also like to thank:
And tremendous thanks to the volunteers, including web site designers, grant writers, copy editors and more, who are already doing the hard work of helping the shelter become self-sustaining! Please take a bow in the comments thread.
We can dream of the day that Pretty Bird Woman House and shelters like it choose to close their doors -- not because they've run out of funding, but because there is no longer a need for their services. Until then, the work you have done, and continue to do, is exceptionally important.