Success Stories

Fuel For The Winter

Photo of an Elder Oglala Sioux Elder Marlene, age 66 from the Pine Ridge Reservation, was glad to receive her voucher to help with her electric bill.

With 15% of Native American Elders living in poverty, a big need is to keep the heat on when the weather turns cold. Through Northern Plains Reservation Aid’s (NPRA) Winter Fuel service, and with the help of our generous supporters, we provided 111 Winter Fuel vouchers for $200 each to Native Elders on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota, and the Winnebago Reservation in Winnebago, Nebraska which can be used to offset their electric, gas, or propane bill.

Oglala Sioux Elder Marlene, age 66 from the Pine Ridge Reservation, was glad to receive her voucher to help with her electric bill. “The only provider in the area costs $120, so this is one less thing to worry about. It’s a struggle to heat my home, especially when I can’t get wood for the stove,” she told us.

Marlene’s home has been in the family for more than 50 years, which means she often needs money for repairs: “The plumbing and the roof tiles are the worst, especially during wicked storms.”

Photo of summer box contents “I’m really good at budgeting money, but the electric service will help financially. Thank you very much to donors,” she exclaimed

She recalls a particularly bad storm in 2013 that covered the entire region under feet of snow and explained that “when the weather is bad, the road trucks come from out of town, and they have trouble getting in...”

Their groceries either come from the mercantile or a store in Chadron, Nebraska, about an hour away. In a 2014 study from the Din´┐Ż Policy Institute, more than half of those surveyed indicated that they normally travel to off-reservation stores to purchase groceries.

Despite the challenges, Marlene is looking forward to a few things this winter, like freshly baked goods. She told us she likes to make things like “pumpkin banana bread, zucchini bread, and Christmas cookies. As I’m getting older, I can’t bake as many items as I used to, so I start early in the season!” Getting older has also left Marlene hard of hearing, and she’s waiting on her new hearing aid to arrive.

With the money saved on electricity, Marlene will buy canning supplies to preserve food from her garden. She stocks up on food for herself and sells canned jam to supplement her income while working part-time at the local youth center.

Marlene is not alone she lives with her two daughters and granddaughter, all of whom are excited about the help from NPRA. “I’m really good at budgeting money, but the electric service will help financially. Thank you very much to donors,” she exclaimed. Partnership With Native Americans’ (PWNA) Northern Plains Reservation Aid (NPRA) program offers immediate relief to Native Elders who need help making it through harsh winters, so your donation to NPRA matters.


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