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Simply Smiles provides bright futures for children, families, and communities. The organization partners with populations in need to create physical and emotional environments where suffering is alleviated and from which local leaders can emerge.

Field Notes from the Reservation: Taking the story home and to heart each year

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Field Notes from the Reservation: Taking the story home and to heart each year

Alex Gross

Today's Field Note is brought to you by four-time Reservation volunteer, Kerri Colombo, who just returned home to Connecticut after her latest trip to La Plant.

As this is my fourth trip to La Plant, in many ways it feels like returning home. Each year the week seems to pass more quickly than the year before. It feels as though I am just getting reacquainted with my Lakota friends and it is almost time to pack up and leave again.

A friend and elder asked what it is that I think when I return to Connecticut. I explained that I worry for my friends here. I check the weather conditions in La Plant throughout the year and hope that their propane does not run out during the harsh winters.

The freezing cold rain, snow and whipping wind at the beginning of our week in La Plant gave us just a very small taste of the severe conditions of living on the Plains (it was about 27 without taking the wind child into account).

Staying connected with old friends

Staying connected with old friends

My friends and elders did run out of propane this winter. I am thankful that it was a relatively mild one. But in La Plant, 6 degrees is considered mild (it can drop to 50 below zero in the dead of winter.) Still, in their poorly insulated trailer the bitter winter could not be kept at bay. Their children and grandchildren had to move out for a while. It was just too cold. My friends stayed behind. They survived another winter. I am thankful that we were still able to share a meal this spring.

Throughout the year, I wonder if my friends here have enough to eat and if the children are experiencing love and affection each day. I hope that the elders feel connected and cared for, and that friends who struggle with addiction will have a good day and carry on. I fear that my friends will not receive proper medical care.

As I told my friend, it is as much the individuals here as it is the unique Simply Smiles experience that brings me back each year. I believe in the hope for the future of this town, and the approach of the Simply Smiles team.

I feel a connection here that I can't really express, except to say that I look forward to returning again to the special individuals I have been blessed to become connected with. Their stories have become my stories as I feel the threads of their lives interwoven with mine.