Service With Snqweyłmistn By Emma Myers

June 16, 2022

After having completed my first service year at a family shelter, I knew I wanted to continue serving parents and children. That left a lot of room for me to explore and search, but when I saw the opportunity to work with indigenous foster families in rural Montana, everything about it excited me.

I was initially intrigued by Snqweyłmistn as a host site for my service year because of how many people they wanted to impact through their programming. They weren’t only concerned with the well-being of current foster families, but also the seven generations of indigenous people that would continue on with the ceremonies and teachings provided by Snqweyłmistn. They also wanted to create jobs in their community by offering training for adults interested in becoming foster parents and growing the program with Snqweyłmistn’s support.

The only problem was, they were within their first couple of years and had not gained the momentum they’d hoped to by that time. They had such large dreams of housing all the families and farming together on one big plot of land. Something I believe would be wonderful for the community and mission of the organization, but to realistically acquire and build all of the infrastructure needed, we were far from realizing that dream. So during my time with them, we were able to grow our budget but not to a point where we could afford the sizable piece of land needed for that kind of organization. Instead, we worked with donors to grow in different ways, we continued our popular programs we offer to kids during the summer months, which have been a wonderful way to spread the word about the organization. We also planned to expand the team and hire staff to help us with operations, and worked to promote a documentary about the organization through press packets.

Being a remote volunteer meant I was limited in the amount of direct support I could give in the office operations, but I managed to support by providing other kinds of administrative assistance such as researching similar organizations, taking notes on zoom calls, and writing promotional content for the website and social media. Adding distance also allowed for my supervisor to vent to me in ways she wouldn’t have been able to had I been in town living with them. I maintained a helpful dose of perspective when conflicts arose and offered an empathetic ear when tensions rose.

Overall, I did what I could to help and look forward to keeping a close eye on this organization that is about to make a lot of real and positive changes in their community.