Meet Our One Spirit Volunteers: Bamm Brewer and Diane Capalario
by Kristin McMillan
Starting this month, we’ll feature a One Spirit volunteer (or two!) and find out more about them and their responsibilities. For February, we want to highlight the Food Program and introduce you to two people who make this important work happen. Please meet Diane Capalario, One Spirit assistant director and Food Program Manager, and Bamm Brewer, who provides vital staffing on the rez for not only the Food Program but also the Wood Program, the Crazy Horse Ride, and the New Warrior Camp. The One Spirit Food Program brings fresh food and supplies to more than 3000 people on the reservation each month. Volunteers unload and sort food, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and shampoo and pack hundreds of boxes that are loaded onto seven individual trucks. The drivers of these trucks then set out to delivery and pick-up points across the entire reservation, covering hundreds of miles on their journeys. The Food Program is a monumental undertaking each and every month, and we are so pleased to have Diane and Bamm in charge.
Diane has been on the One Spirit team since its early days. A full-time foundry Nondestructive Testing Manager living in Manchester, NH, Diane first became involved with One Spirit as a sponsor. She had long been a supporter of various charities, but one day she wanted to see exactly where her money was going and know that her financial support was really making a difference. So she became a One Spirit sponsor and eventually took up volunteering. She worked a few years tending the organization’s finances and instead now manages the Food Program. If you’ve ever made a donation for a food box, you’ve likely emailed Diane. She collects all the emails for the food orders, enters the information into databases (she uses two to get the job done!), and then generates reports listing the names and addresses of the recipients, pick-up or delivery status, and order details. Diane then passes the reports along to Director Jeri Baker, Bamm Brewer, and the area coordinators. She also prepares the invoice to send to Mark Rillings, the farmer who provides the food and supplies through his company, Rillings Produce, in Pierre, South Dakota.
Diane’s volunteer role involves plenty of challenges, the greatest of which is that she frequently receives orders after the deadline. Late orders translate into a lot of extra work and scrambling for Diane to update all the reports and the invoice and then redistribute them. Considering how complicated the logistics of the Food Program are, Diane said she’s thrilled that the number of people being served by the program has basically doubled since she first started helping with it. And after the recent adjustments to the delivery system, the Food Program has for the most part gone off without a hitch in the past 3 months. During those rare times when Diane finds a few spare moments, she enjoys crocheting, knitting, sewing, and photography. Thank you so much for all you do, Diane! The Food Program could not happen without you!
Another indispensable volunteer with the Food Program is the reservation’s very own Bamm Brewer, who owns a ranch about 15 minutes outside the town of Pine Ridge. Bamm has volunteered for One Spirit for about 2 years. His connection with One Spirit was a natural extension of his assistance to his people, who he had already been helping for years by sharing buffalo meat from his ranch herd. Bamm and his family also started the Crazy Horse Ride, and it was through this annual event that One Spirit first heard about Bamm and the help he provided for the Lakota people. It was a logical next step to ask him to help One Spirit. In addition to being central to the Food Program, Bamm also works with the Wood Program, the Crazy Horse Ride, and the New Warrior Camp.
Bamm is a busy man, and the Food Program keeps him all the more so on the food delivery weekends. He and his crew of volunteers start at 10 on Saturday morning when they unload the main delivery truck at the Indian Action Garage in the town of Pine Ridge. Bamm provides a pot of soup, hot coffee, and bread on cold days to help keep the volunteers warm and well fed during all their hard work. Once the food on the main truck is sorted and boxed, each truck that will take food out to the recipients is loaded. One Spirit streamlined the delivery and pick-up process last year, so there are fewer individual deliveries to make. However, the drivers continue to cover hundreds of miles to deliver to the elderly and those who are disabled or otherwise unable to pick up their food boxes at the central locations on the rez. If you haven’t already gotten the idea that this is very hard work handling the food and product boxes for about 300 households in one day, Bamm assures us that it is indeed strenuous; that’s particularly true in the winter when the drivers have fought rough country roads and trudged through deep snow to lug heavy boxes into each house. And sometimes Bamm and the delivery staff aren’t able to deliver a box if no one is at home. They might then receive a complaint from a sponsor, which weighs heavily on Bamm. He and the delivery staff take pride in their work and go to great lengths to bring food, and hope, to their people, to those who are in great need.
Despite all the challenges and the tough times when Bamm walks away from a Food Program recipient’s house where he sees such hardship, especially for the young children, he feels very good about his role with One Spirit. He knows he has helped a lot of people. He’s confident that the Food Program hits its target in reaching out to people in desperate need. He also wants everyone to know that the Food Program has already come a long way, and there are more improvements in the works.
Like Diane, despite a very busy schedule, Bamm too still manages to find time for hobbies. He enjoys hunting, fishing, mechanics, horse riding, writing for a local newspaper, and playing in the rock band he’s been with since high school. He also just took up bowling and recently posted a very respectable 191 score. Thank you, Bamm, for all your hard work and dedication to One Spirit and the Lakota nation!
We hope the next time you place a food order for the family you sponsor, you’ll think not only of your family on the rez but also of Diane and Bamm and all the other wonderful One Spirit volunteers who put their hearts, time, and energy into bringing much-needed food and supplies to over 3000 Lakota each month.