Sunday, March 22, 2015
'Third-World conditions right here in our own country'
To be useful, honorable and compassionate.
Seems like it all started as when the pastor talked to him. Doug McKenzie describes it this way.
"Pastor Ellen (Fenter) had contacted me about going to an Indian reservation in South Dakota to help take some donations from the church's storage. I decided to go ahead and make the trip with Carl (Fenter, the pastor's husband). On Monday morning, I met Carl at the church to load up the donations and make the long drive to South Dakota. While loading the donations, that seemed to be not in that great of shape and nobody helping load the trailer, I may have started out the trip on a bit of a negative side. The drive not bad, but when we got to the reservation and the people started gathering around the truck, very happy to see us. As we opened the trailer, there were enough young men to unload everything. Old women came up and gave us hugs, thanking me for everything; the little children were running around playing with their new toys. Experiences the happiness in all those faces, and it just did not seem like we did all that much."
Doug McKenzie and others made additional trips.
A flyer that they put together for one the trips asks:
"Please help. South Dakota Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations. We are in need of donations for an auxiliary heat source. Last winter too many were lost from freezing to death! We are trying to give 300 or more heaters to the ones that are in the most need.
With discounted pricing from the local Big R store, the group was able to gather enough for 238 new heaters at $16 each, for one of their trips. On another trip, 100 fans made their way to reservation families because of the groups efforts.
McKenzie is concerned that still is not enough help, and plans to do everything he can.
"We can't turn our head and pretend the problems are not there. It is Third World conditions right here in our own country. Unless we start helping out, they will start disappearing. Diabetes, cancer, other health problems like Arthritis, are rampant. I do have a heart."
No one really questions that.
McKenzie and other continued to make the long trips — and plan for more.
He and Tom Del Porto are trained as electricians and have the idea that could put together enough people to help out with building trade experience to perhaps build chicken coops and green houses and such on the reservations. Maybe minor repairs on homes and such.
McKenzie, who himself suffers from Diabetes, knows the importance of providing healthy food items, and with the help of his wife Angie, working at the King Soopers on Baptist Road, the store provides discounted items to put together significant food boxes for families.
From that introduction, "This trip weighed heavy on my mind, so over the last couple of weeks I have been talking with Serena King to see what I could do to help. Now I am asking for your help and support to make this commitment to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I believe there is an urgent need," McKenzie wrote in a recent appeal.
McKenzie, from a Kentucky coal mining family, with Shawnee roots, thinks the best thing to ask is:
"What else can we do."
He has made five trips in the last year bringing hundreds of needed fans, heaters and food boxes, as well as other items. He plans on continuing the mission.
Those interested may contact, or donate at The Church at Woodmoor, reference Native Americans, 18125, Monument, Co, 80132. Phone 719-488-3200.