The Ho-Chunk Nation Social Services Family Services Program teamed up with Youth Services to provide planting project packages to 73 Ho-Chunk youth. The program must remain in compliance with their grants, and events they were supposed to hold are canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. The employees have been planning alternative activities.
The planting project packages include planting pots, seed pods, soil, Popsicle sticks, paint pens, and instructions. Youth decorate the planting pots with the paint pens and then add a seed pod and soil. The Popsicle sticks can be used to label parsley, chives, or basil – the three seed pods that are offered.
“They (families) can keep them on their counters and use them,” explained Community Supportive Services Division Director Kimberly Whitewater.
Life Skills Coordinator Allana Herth spearheaded the project, and the entire Black River Falls community are exclusively her clients. Bonita Rhymer, Child Care Assistance Program Manager, assisted with separating and packaging materials. Tye Decorah, Life Skills Coordinator, gathered materials.
Youth Services workers will deliver the planting project packages to 25 families in the Black River Falls area.
“This all comes out of the Family Services Program grant,” stated Kimberly Whitewater. “The grant funding still requires us to do a lot of prevention, youth work, and family work.”
The Family Services Program provides culturally infused prevention education and recovery support to any Ho-Chunk member and their communities. Other current projects include beading and loom work.
Tye Decorah hand-made looms and distributed them to program participants. Decorah is also working on constructing raised planting barrels for the Assisted Living Facility. The aim is for elders to garden while standing.
“We definitely do not have a shortage of work,” declared Whitewater.
Tomah and Wittenberg families are receiving similar projects and project materials from Life Skills Coordinators in their areas and the main Social Services office.
The Social Services office is located at 808 Red Iron Road near Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Their main phone number is 715-284-2622 or toll-free at 888-343-8190.