South Dakota – United Church of Christ

RE-MEMBER (Pine Ridge)

Contact: Cory True, Executive Director
  P.O. Box 5054
  Pine Ridge, SD 57770
  South Dakota Office:  605.867.2282
  South Dakota Office Fax:  605.867.2285
  Work Cell:  605.454.5130

Volunteer Trip Coordinator (Paula Sibal) at:
  P.O. Box 5054
  Pine Ridge, SD 57770

  Phone: 308-638-4500
  Fax: 866.583.1719

Re-Member  works with the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Volunteers participate in work projects across the Reservation, helping rebuild relationships, homes and lives.

Project/Focus: Projects include building and installing bunk beds in the homes of Oglala Lakota families on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, outhouses, trailer skirting/steps/wheelchair ramps/decks and splitting and delivering firewood in the colder months. The week long trips are divided between service and cultural immersion.

Educational/Advocacy Components: Cultural immersion activities scheduled in afternoons and evenings, including guest speakers, Lakota crafts, tours, museums, and social gatherings with Lakota friends.

Time: Groups are scheduled from the last week in February (to accommodate alternative spring breaks) through the 2nd week of October.  Registration is secured on receipt of deposit and completed Trip Reservation Agreement.  Explanation of the booking process as well as instructions for requesting a trip can be found under the Volunteer Trips tab on the Re-Member website at

Group Size: 60 persons maximum per trip week, Memorial Day through Labor Day, with a group size cap of 15.  In the spring and fall:  40 per trip week with a group size cap of 13.  Subject to availability after cutoff of 2 months prior to trip date, group sizes may be increased.

Minimum Age: 12 years.  During Kids Weeks (2 per summer) children age 8-11 are welcomed, and special programming is provided for them.

Adult to Youth Ratio:  1:6

Accommodations: Dormitory-style housing with bunk beds, bathrooms, and showers. Full kitchen and dining facilities on site. Groups assist full-time kitchen staff in preparing and clean up of meals.  All meals are provided, as is all transportation during the trip week.  Shuttle service is available, at additional costs, for volunteers flying into Rapid City, SD, which is approximately 90 miles away.

Cost: $599 per person includes meals, housing, all project supplies, and transportation from Saturday evening through Friday morning.


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Simply Smiles, Inc. (Cheyenne River Reservation, La Plant – South Dakota)

Contact:  Jasmine Martier, Volunteer Coordinator
                 1771 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880
Phone:     203-810-4041

Simply Smiles provides bright futures for indigenous children, families, and their communities. Volunteers are the driving force of the organization’s relationship-focused, “dignity-first approach.”  Simply Smiles’ programming on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota centers volunteers in the heart of a Lakota community. The burdens of physical poverty and historical trauma faced by the Reservation’s residents are profound. The spirit, beauty, and resilience of the Lakota people and their land is powerful. Simply Smiles’ volunteers learn the history and current realities of the Lakota people and are put in a position to respond in a way that is desired, respectful, meaningful, and positive.

Projects/Focus:  Simply Smiles has a year-round presence on the Cheyenne River Reservation. More than a dozen staffers work in partnership with the local community and teams of volunteers. The organization directly serves 150+ children plus individuals living on the Reservation through 20+ programs including home construction, educational initiatives, job training, food sovereignty action, and youth programming.

Volunteers work side-by-side with Reservation residents. Volunteers help build new homes, run youth programs including summer camps for 150 children, host community events, and learn how to bring the story and realities of the Reservation home with them. Simply Smiles coordinates with its volunteer teams so that programming can be scheduled that maximizes the talents, experiences and abilities of the group. Simply Smiles volunteers work hard, play hard, and learn much.

Educational/Advocacy Components: Simply Smiles staff works with each team to prepare in advance of the experience, is with the group during the experience, and helps to harness the motivation after the experience.

Before:  Team leaders and each volunteer receives a handbook that includes educational resources that have been curated by Lakota advisors. Simply Smiles requires at least one face-to-face preparation meeting with the volunteer team before the trip. This can be done via video conference based on location of the team.

During: On-site orientation and community tour upon arrival. Simply Smiles staff lead teams in reflection each evening. Throughout the week, the organizations staff and Lakota community members visit with the volunteers for learning sessions and in-depth Q & A. These interactions are unique experiences to engage directly and meaningfully with Lakota people, including elders and activists.

After: Simply Smiles works with the team to prepare participants to “take the story home” in order to perpetuate positive change.

Time:  One week.  Arrive on Saturday and depart the following Saturday.

Group Size:  15 to 35 (smaller and larger groups, please inquire with Simply Smiles)

Minimum Age:  15 years by departure date (no exceptions) 

Adult to Youth Ratio: 1 male and 1 female adult leader accompany the group. Combined with Simply Smiles staff, the adult to youth ratio is never less than 1:5.

Accommodations:  Groups live in the town of La Plant as they serve that town and the surrounding communities. Living conditions are basic. Volunteers sleep in an air-conditioned bunk house. Sanitary facilities consist of latrines. Volunteers shower at the local school. All meals are provided by Simply Smiles and consist of varied, healthful and hearty options.  The organization works with team leaders to craft a menu that fits the dietary needs/preferences of the group.

Cost:  $750 per person plus airfare to Rapid City (or by mutual agreement, to La Plant by personal vehicle). All food, lodging, building materials, supplies, transportation are covered by the volunteer fee. Simply Smiles prepares an environment where the team can have the maximum impact and growth experience, without worrying about the details. Simply Smiles handles all the details of purchasing food and building materials before the group arrives. This means more hours building relationships with the Reservation residents, more hours swinging hammers, and more space to process and reflect on a life changing experience.

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