By Sherry Wack
I have always had an interest in and a heart for Native Americans. I have been supporting Red Cloud School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota for almost 20 years, so I receive their newsletters.
This past spring I read about two of their graduating seniors who received the prestigious Horatio Alger Scholarship. In the article one recipient, Wayne Ghost, said that he was considering two colleges, one of which was Albright College in Reading. I got very excited and wrote a letter to Wayne telling him how great Eastern Pennsylvania is and how we have a town named after the great Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, situated in the spectacularly beautiful Lehigh River Gorge.
I told him that Jim Thorpe is buried there and I also told him that not far to the southwest of Reading is the site of the Carlisle Indian School where Jim Thorpe rose to international fame. I mailed him the letter along with a book about Jim Thorpe.
Then in August I received a call from Wayne thanking me for the letter and the book. He told me that he had decided to attend Albright and that he had three scholarships that paid his tuition but he did not have enough money for plane fare. Classes were starting in less than a week.
After I hung up I quickly contacted my fellow members of the Eastern PA Committee on Native American Ministries, sending them the article about Wayne to show them that this was a legitimate situation. Since he would be attending an historically Methodist school affiliated with our conference, we were free to help him. We all voted to buy him a plane ticket.
Wayne arrived at Philadelphia International Airport on August 28 where he was greeted by former CoNAM chair Sandi Cianciulli and her grandson. They shared a meal and then Sandi drove Wayne to Albright, ably assisted by our friend Nicole Viera as navigator. Wayne is doing well and enjoying his college experience. In October my husband Dennis, Nicole and I took him to visit Jim Thorpe’s grave and memorial park and spent a glorious autumn day exploring the quaint town.
Our CONAM has awarded Wayne a scholarship of $1000 to cover miscellaneous expenses, perhaps even a trip home for the holidays. This is one way of following through on the Act of Repentance.
We want you to know that your contributions on Native American Ministries Sunday are at work helping one young Native American student realize his dream of receiving a college education that will enable him to return home and work for the betterment of his people. But even more than that, we have welcomed Wayne into our fellowship and will continue to make sure that he knows that we care about him, providing a loving community for a young man so far from his home.
Sherry Wack is a member of CoNAM and Evansburg UMC.