LAPWAI, Idaho - The Nez Perce Tribe received a donation in the amount of $100,000 from the Women's Presbytery, a branch within the church, to construct a children's home. A groundbreaking ceremony was held earlier in the summer and it's anticipated that the home will open near the first of the year.
Anthony D. Johnson, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee commented, "We are very appreciative of the contribution that the Nez Perce Tribe has received from the Women's Presbytery. It will help us to fulfill a plan that has been envisioned since the mid-1980s."
Simone Wilson heads up the tribe's Social Services Department. She explained that the tribal executive committee approved a plan to build a children's trust fund to focus on all children's services needed on the reservation. The first priority will be the administration of the children's home. When courts remove a child from their parents' home where some form of abuse has occurred, they need a place to house the child untill a proper foster home is located. This usually amounts to 15 - 20 youngsters each year.
As is the case in all communities, there are unfortunately some parents that lack the resources and experience to provide appropriate homes for their children. Thus the second priority will be child protective services. Third priority will be foster care placement. The final priority is for supportive services that are provided.
Wilson pointed out that it takes a minimum of $125,000 annually to run the children's home. It is her goal to raise money in a variety of ways to establish a bank fund that would yield at least that amount each year and thus make the program entirely self sufficient and not dependent on monies from the state or federal government or any other entity. It's a monumental task as $3 million in donations is her goal.
The tribe employs roughly 900 people and has been offered the opportunity to donate through payroll deductions to help fund such an account. This shows good motives but still leaves a huge gap in what is needed. Other projects and raffles have added a little to the coffers as well. As Wilson said, "every penny does count when you're looking at monumental amounts of money."
Wilson is now reaching out, as she explained. "The one thing we would really like to do is to make sure this gets out to not only tribes but to the general population. We're looking for people that have the money that can contribute larger dollar amounts."