About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Problem With Charity

Its that time of year when I begin to get people, many of them unknown to me, contacting me about how to give coats, clothes, heaters, blankets, etc. to the people on Pine Ridge Reservation.  Winter is fast approaching and our minds turn to those who may not be able to stay warm this winter.  I love that people care and are thinking of ways to help.  That's pretty awesome and I don't want to discourage caring or giving, but I feel that I should attempt an explanation of why I don't get personally involved in that sort of thing. 

I've been told by several people who work on the Reservation, and I think I've seen for myself, that a lot of our efforts at helping others are not necessarily helpful - at least not in the long term.   Charity often sets up a mentality of expectation, and worse, dependence in those we are attempting to help.  That can lead to a lot of behaviors and attitudes that are far from healthy.  It may make us feel good, and it may in fact help for a short time, but in the long run, our charity can become part of the problem. 

And then there is the sad truth that sometimes in areas where drug and alcohol addiction are rampant, the things we give are sold for drug/alcohol money.  I hate saying that, but its the sad reality.  They don't do this with the school supplies because they wouldn't get much money for them anyway so I feel its a safe, and effective way of helping. 

I've also seen that often we give to the poor in ways that, how do I put it gently ... are disrespectful.  It is easy to give our old stuff that we don't want anymore.  Anybody can do that.  Some people give stuff that should be thrown away and then feel good about giving it.  It leaves the person we are giving to feeling small, and strips them of their dignity.  That sort of "charity" is not charity at all. If we're going to give something, we should give our best - that's real charity (love). 

I realize that other people will do other things in an effort to help.  That's fine.  But after nine years of visiting the Reservation, I feel confident that school supplies are the best way that we can help.  Hopefully it will help some child choose to stay in school, get an education, and maybe, just maybe, work toward a better life. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Quote

"It is not the critic who counts:
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood,
who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again,
because there is no effort without error or shortcoming,
but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
who spends himself for a worthy cause;
who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Email

The following is an email I sent out to my REZonate planning crew this morning.  I would also like to share it with you all who have supported our efforts these past four years.  I don't have all of the volunteers names or any way to contact them and there is no way possible to contact every person who has attended the event, but I would say the same things to each of them. 

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Hey guys,
THANKS so much for all of your help this past weekend - well, this past several months really. I appreciate the sacrifices you have all made to be able to see something good happen for the kids on the Rez. You have made a difference!
I believe this will be our last year for REZonate - at least as far as I will be connected with it. Some have expressed interest in going forward with it, but I am simply worn out. :)

I think some really positive things have happened because of REZoante.

  • We have been a witness in our community. Even this year we met a couple who expressed that they would like to attend our church because of what was happening at REZonate. In past years there has always been stories of people who were touched who would not have been if we had not been visible in the community. We are still contacted for prayer by some outside of our church.For me, that is the greatest benefit of all and was in fact, my goal in doing REZonate. You can't really put a price tag on a soul.

  • We have raised awareness in the community about Pine Ridge. In a district that uses the Lakota name for their schools, it is just good for them to have some awareness of what life is like for the real Lakota people.
  • We have connected with The Community Foundation which brings in about $1000 a year of unsolicited funds for Backpacks For Pine Ridge.
  • We have met some INCREDIBLE people. I can't begin to tell you how good it is to see people who are willing to sacrifice and give until it hurts to help a cause they believe in. In a world where it is the norm to serve self, these people give me hope and are shining examples that there are still good people in the world.  I am often just blown away when I think of all that some of these folks have given.  It just leaves me speechless.  All I know is, God will bless them abundantly. 
  • The Lakota people have been amazed that we do what we do to help them - and they showed that this year by driving from South Dakota to be a part of it all. That should speak volumes to us about the value of what we have done
  • And we have made money. Not much, mind you, but we have not ever spent more than we made. Bigger festivals in the community that look far more successful, have gone broke. We have always come out ahead. This year we made $600. Not much for all the work it was, but that's 60 kids that will get backpacks that wouldn't have gotten them otherwise. Those folks who stand and hand them out, know how HUGE that really is.

Beyond that, its just been fun. OK, its been a pain in the butt, but its also been fun. :) I know that I will cherish the memories and will smile often when I think of all the crazy things that have happened over the past 4 years.
We will of course, continue to provide backpacks for the kids. That will not change as long as I'm alive and kicking. The Backpacks For Pine Ridge fund still remains at The Community Foundation and we still have fundraisers happening - soon even- with the Trax For Backpacks 5k/10k this October. I am NOT quitting, just looking for other ways to take this forward.

Thanks again for all of your hard work. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem nearly enough. I'm not sure there is a way to express how grateful I am that a bunch of people willingly chose to follow one of my crazy ideas believing that something good could happen.
Now, on to the next crazy idea. Hahaha! I have no idea what that will be, but I do know that God has some wild and wonderful things in store for those that follow Him and so I can't wait to see what the next thing is.

Love you all!!
Amber