Rapid City non-profit looks to expand as they continue to serve the community

RAPID CITY, S.D.– According to the head of the non-profit Ending The Silence RC Brandon Ferguson, four out of five Native American children in Rapid City alone are sexually abused before the age of 12. Furthermore, he says that over half of Native American teens have taken their lives or attempted suicide in the past 13 months. At a gathering of Lakota elders put together by Ferguson and the non-profit, he explained more bout the program and how it is progressing.

What is Ending the Silence RC?

Ending the Silence RC is a non-profit dedicated to ending the native-on-native violence that occurs in the Rapid City community. The gathering hosted by the group on Sunday at the Mother Butler Community Center in Rapid City featured hundreds of Lakota elders and gave them a night of games and activities, including prizes. Ferguson says that these events allow elders to come together and talk as they discuss ways to resolve the violence in the community while learning about local resources for themselves and their families. “The majority of them are primary caregivers for our youth. And so we’re just bringing the issues to the forefront and getting their input on ideas, on what direction we should be taking the program,” he says.

Photos from Sunday’s gathering of elders

How has the group made these gatherings possible?

According to Ferguson, over 1,000 local businesses and organizations have committed to helping his non-profit with the work they do. Over thousands of dollars in prizes were donated for the event, which also included dinner for those in attendance. Organizations such as WellFully and Abbott House were also among the organizations that had a physical presence at the event, talking to attendees about their services and how they help the community. The Tatanka: Story of the Bison museum was also represented, and offered on-the-spot applications for job opportunities.

What is next for the non-profit?

Sunday’s event was only the second gathering of elders for the organization, but marks a huge step forward as it works on a larger community presence. Ferguson says that they are currently working on building a website that will have a live-chat feature for anyone going through or having been through crises. In many cases, he says that members of the Native American community that have suffered from violence or abuse in any form do not call law enforcement for help. The live-chat feature will be available for anyone needing assistance, with a team working to connect people with the help they need. He also has more events in store for the community, and even plans for bringing the mission of the non-profit into the classrooms of local schools.

Ultimately, he hopes that these gatherings and future endeavors will create a chain reaction that sparks change and helps those who need are in need of it the most. “Our job at the website level is going to be able to decipher what level of crisis they are at, and we are the middle person. Our job is to reach out to public safety, to reach out to Abbott House, to reach out to WellFully– we are trying to build a community, he explained. “We are able to maybe touch a couple of people here and then they go home and it sparks a conversation at home with them and their grandkids.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News