by Ellary Kramka
The task of summing up my year with Red Feather in one article (it’s already been one year?!) seems nearly impossible to do. So, rather than try to cover everything, I will share a few highlights of what it was like to serve with this organization for the last year.
When I started my Americorps VISTA service with Red Feather, they were knee deep in the renovation of Bilford Curley’s home. I had spent the weeks leading up to my first day researching the connection between the home environment and holistic health, and seeing the transformation in the life of the Curley family after the project was completed only confirmed what I already knew: that a home can change everything. I saw firsthand (through repeated follow up visits with the family) the way the four Curley children flourished in a new way in their home, and witnessing this fueled my passion for Red Feather’s work for the remainder of my year of service.
It was this passion that pushed me to spend a lot of time producing an annual report for Red Feather. It was the first annual report to be released since 2013, and I felt strongly that the stories of the last two years needed to be shared. Producing an annual report that covered two plus years was difficult, but it was completely worth my while. The best part? The grateful, excited, joyful response from our partners and supporters. After the annual report was mailed, Red Feather received note after note rejoicing with us over the small victories we have humbly been a part of in the fight for healthy homes on reservations. Many notes acknowledged what we at Red Feather also know to be true: weatherization, do-it-yourself repairs, and home renovations are important work. Again, my passion was fueled for my work.
In January, I helped facilitate a partnership between Red Feather and Energy Corps. I was privileged to spend a few days on the Northern Cheyenne reservation with 13 Energy Corps members as they weatherized 26 homes for the winter. Yes, the chance to provide 26 families with tools to stay warmer in the winter was amazing, but that wasn’t the best part of the Weatherization Blitz. The best part was sitting with the Energy Corps members in the kitchens of the homes we weatherized, talking with moms and dads and kids. We were served cookies and coffee and story after story of temporary housing with no insulation (in Montana!) being declared a sufficient permanent home. These stories stuck not only with me, but with the Energy Corps members. I know that they carry these stories in their hearts, and that they now share my passion for this work.
Overall, whether I was in someone’s home installing outlet gaskets, or sitting in the office compiling data metrics, my year with Red Feather has taught me that quiet, humble work can achieve great things, and that perseverance and adaptability are paramount to the fight for a more just world.
It has been a life changing year for me with Red Feather, and I have learned so much. What a gift it was to serve with this organization, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to take what I have learned and use it in my next life chapter.