Lately I've been seeing the slogan: "Test Negative, Stay Positive."
Unfortunately, on November 28 I tested positive for Covid-19. I am now one of the many victims of this virus on the Rosebud Reservation. I am working to stay positive and to use my time in recovery and quarantine to pray in solidarity with the many who are suffering much worse symptoms than I am.
Covid-19 has hit South Dakota hard. Fully one out of every 900 residents in the state has died of it. One in every 6.5 residents of the Rosebud either is actively sick with the virus or has recovered from it.
Amid this spreading pandemic and its catastrophic impact on the struggling local economy, St. Francis Mission continues to move forward. Sapa Un Catholic Academy holds classes online and furnishes take-home books, lessons, and science projects. Jenny and Ben Black Bear send frequent mailings to our religious education students. Using technology and small meetings, Ben and Jenny prepare families for Baptism and First Holy Communion.
A new prefab building for the dental clinic has arrived and is being set up. Before entering the clinic, patients will be screened there. It has a laundry room and a locker room where staff and volunteers can change before going across the road to our guest housing. It offers much-needed space for many supplies now required to keep staff and patients safe. We look forward to opening the doors of the dental clinic again.
The pandemic has hit the people we serve hard, and they have many new needs. We now supply food to many families. A grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation for this purpose ran out, so some donors have designated their contributions for the food program. We face many new expenses: we did not budget for them, but, to satisfy the most crucial needs of the people we serve, we must meet them.
I am deeply grateful for the extra funds we have received for these new needs. The general expenses of the Mission itself are also very much on my mind. The pandemic has prevented my traveling to meet donors and to host events that generate support, and our revenue has been drastically reduced this year. Now my illness is restricting my activities even further. Unless we can cover our operating expenses, we will not be here to meet the emergency needs of the people. Our limited resources and reserves have taken a major hit from the pandemic and the needs it created.
Please consider increasing your end-of-year gift this year. Thank you! You will be in my prayers in a special way during the coming Christmas season and in the New Year.