Bamm Brewer does not only work for our food program but is also involved in the wood program. Read his touching report about his latest delivery on the rez.
The stars were out the other night and sometimes when the stars are out it gets really cold. There was a wood order to be filled. Leroy was the elders’ name. Mat delivered to him before and he would do the delivery again. I decided to ride along and help and it would be the Oglala area we would travel out to. The truck's heater has been acting up so I was trying to solve that problem earlier that day in the garage and on the trip out there it was warm in the truck. We got out there and took a load to a Sarah in the housing and found that she was actually completely out. It was a nice feeling to help her out and know that she would now have a warm night, and she was happy.
We then traveled to where Mat said Leroy lived on Oglala Dam road. It was a little one room house with an outhouse in the front and a water pump outside. It kind of didn't look like anyone was home. We could see some wood out front not much but he was running low. Jeri wants us to get pictures but we cut all day and sometimes we are delivering in the night. There may not be good enough light for a photo outside.
As we got out and prepared to unload I could see and hear movement inside. Leroy was home. Leroy opened the door to see who was outside and Mat then said "Leroy, it’s me, I brought you some more wood. How's it going today?" Leroy’s answer would set the tone of the rest of that evening's trip. He said simply "Lonely". He was out there alone for who knows how long. As we unloaded the wood we said words of encouragement and just kind of visited him. He was very happy about the wood and said thanks to our people for helping him. He said it was one less worry for him. It's been a cold winter for everyone this year.
I walked up to the house and asked if I could get a signature and I was hoping for maybe a photo too. After listening to his words of being lonely out there, me and Mat decided to stand there and visit with him a bit. He had a puppy and that puppy soon came from out of the next room of the house which kind of seemed like a two room house. I've seen there wasn't much for furniture inside either. I've seen this puppy come and stand at Leroy's side and it sure was a happy puppy. That puppy started waging its tail and wanting to play. As I stood there I realized there's no TV, couch, chair, coffee table. I also noticed the roof above Leroy was about ready to cave-in. You could see the insulation hanging down because the sheet rock was gone. He stood there visiting with us and smiling telling us how it is out there. Meanwhile his puppy started to play biting his shoe and yelping at us to come in. Then I thought of something that'll change the way we do things. I wished I brought along a box of food. If someone’s down on wood they are sure to be down on food too.
As we drove away I thought about the old guy and his words "Lonely". I'm glad I know where he lives now and how tough he lives because our elders are priority to the people. It is a struggle here and seeing these situations helps us to know exactly where they are at. We need to build up over the summer / fall a huge supply wood loads. This is the third year for our crew on the western side of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I know one thing our crew will build for sure over the summer to be able to keep up with the need in the extreme of winter.
A couple of days went by and I started getting more calls, one from Lovey Two Bulls of the Red Shirt area. Lovey left an interesting message. She said "We need a wood cutter up here" and that caught my attention, because they live out in the badlands area. Wood would most likely have to be hauled up there. I had heard her name before but never really got to meet her. Then she called again and said she had to come to town and would be in a truck. She asked to stop by and get some wood so we did meet at the garage. We loaded her up good too. Plus we gave her some food. When she left she was very happy. I would like to do more to help the Red Shirt community. After I saw Lovey I kind of felt relief that she got her wood. I get home and a message on Facebook from someone else in Red Shirt area saying they need us to get some wood up to another grandmother. We got the wood and looks like I get to meet another elder.