It is with full hearts of thanks for the outpouring of generosity from 25 California-Pacific churches, plus 8 other organizations and individuals, that provided school supplies, backpacks, comforters, snacks, gift cards, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and more to Sherman Indian High School in Riverside this year! As students gathered and were brought from across Turtle Island, they were met with this generosity. It took a pickup truck, three SUVs, and other vehicles to make our main delivery this year, and we then needed to make one more packed SUV delivery following.
Last year it was anticipated that students would be back on campus, but that was not possible due to changing Federal COVID requirements. The many items last year were shipped to students ahead of being on campus for distance learning, home use, and later on-campus use. A grant was provided to have items shipped by Lorene Sisquoc, a student services staff, and other school staff members. As Lorene shared, multiple students contacted her when they received a backpack full of supplies, a beach towel, and snacks, wanting to know “who cared about them like this?” Lorene shared with the students that “it was the United Methodist Church who cared about them.” Teachers utilized gift cards for students who completed distance work or attained various personal goals. Then in late Spring 2022, for the 2021-2022 school year, the church was recognized for this generosity with a Golden Eagle Award.
This generosity goes a long way in helping students with their schooling and touches a historical question about the church’s role in Native American lives and nations. Unfortunately, due to some uninformed and highly negative comments and flyers recently, the Pine Ridge Reservation Council considered asking all Christian organizations to leave the reservation. This was not done, but having churches and Christian organizations register was considered. These discussions brought out many old views of the church’s role, both positive and negative. While this was a part of this year, Cal-Pac churches, along with other organizations and individuals, sent the types of items listed above to students who will be sharing back home that it was the church that cared about them. On our second delivery, several students were in the lobby and couldn’t thank us enough for what had been given and what was being brought. As one Cal-Pac pastor put it, “consider the impact of a student from someplace like Pine Ridge when they wear a backpack, sit down to work with provided supplies, or go to bed covered in a gifted comforter from the church.”
The generosity and means of grace given by so many this year will have an impact far beyond this school year and beyond the Riverside campus. We are sure the list of churches, organizations, and individuals is incomplete, as some may have contacted the school directly. Still, we know of the following churches, organizations, and individuals who helped make this gracious gift possible for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond: United UMC of Anaheim; Centenary, Los Angeles; Cornerstone, Placentia; Dominguez, Carson; Foothills, La Mesa; Garden Grove; Glendora; Good Shepherd, Westminster; Kilohana, Honolulu, HI; La Cañada; Laguna Beach; Laguna Country, Laguna Woods; La Mesa First; La Puente First; Native American, Anaheim & L.A.; Pacific Beach, San Diego; Park Hill, Chula Vista; Riverside First; San Diego First; San Dimas; San Luis Obispo; Trinity, Lakewood; Trinity & United Women in Faith, San Diego; Westchester; Santa Monica First; Anaheim Moose Lodge; Cal-Pac Young People’s Ministry; Cal-Pac United Women in Faith; Robert & Juanita Arvizu; Bette Caldwell; Esther Quiñones; Bob & Valerie Tholl; & Risa Wheat…
Lorene Sisquoc has given out over 100 gift cards, at various gatherings or for needs such as supplies, backpacks, comforters, snacks, shampoo & conditioner, and body wash to cover student needs and school work. Hundreds more gift cards will be given out for various goals met, needs, and the larger gift cards will be provided to Ms. Sisquoc for student gatherings or discovered needs. Again, thank you, though these words seem hardly enough for the impact on students at Sherman Indian High School and beyond. This giving has touched both the physical and spiritual hunger of hundreds of students and their families!
Rev. Gregory Douglass
Co-Chair, Cal-Pac Committee On Native American Ministries
Pastor, Native American UMC of So Cal & Native American Fellowship (Circle of Life) L.A.
If churches or individuals would like to continue support for Sherman Indian High School students, Ms. Lorene Sisquoc has shared that they are looking for reusable water bottles (see picture for example). These could be brought to Native American UMC, 800 S Lemon St, Anaheim, CA 92805, anytime. Six have already been delivered, and a dozen more have been provided by the University of California, Irvine.