Woyatan Lutheran Church opens doors to shelter those in need

RAPID CITY, S.D. — What began as a singular dinner on a cold New Year’s Eve night has turned into something much bigger, reaching hundreds of the city’s most vulnerable.

Chris White Eagle, President of the Servant Circle at Woyatan Lutheran Church, was headed home to pay some bills on a holiday when he noticed people gathered in the cold. “I turned around and I called my pastor and I said we need to do something,” White Eagle explains. 

So he decided to invite them in and make dinner.

“I was just going to open up the church and start serving soup. But then once Creek Patrol and Indian Collective, once they heard that we were opening up to start serving food, and Journey On, they literally filled up the whole place. And this is all with our shelter-less relatives, and they have nowhere to go,” says White Eagle.

Woyatan Lutheran Church opens doors to those needing a warm place to stayOvernight, Woyatan Church became a home to many. “We’re not trying to duplicate services, all we’re trying to do is relieve and help and work with the city and work with everybody,” White Eagle adds. 

Work is something he focuses on, by helping people find jobs, and then offering them rides back and forth.

“I was homeless, and I’m currently employed, I work at Golden Corral. They help me get to work and then back, which is good, and I’m fortunate for that,” says Deliah Hinojosa.

But Chris White Eagle also works full time, as a butcher, and he runs the Wambli Ska Society, the teen center that is currently being used to help house those in need, along with the Woyatan Lutheran Church next door.

“This is just a band-aid,” White Eagle says. “This has to go back to being a church, you know we have to be able to hold services again, and we know that. But with the need being there, we’re trying our best.” He hopes to lease some property and create a more permanent program to continue supporting those who are struggling. 

“I’m still trying to better myself as well, but if they’re ready and willing, these guys are here to help,” says Elijah Bearsheart. 

White Eagle’s advice for helping those around us is to simply remember that a little compassion goes a long way. “They’re somebody’s grandma, and somebody’s grandpa. They’re a human being. At the end of the day, we all just want to be loved,” he says.

Any donations can be dropped off at Woyatan Lutheran Church, and they’re looking for volunteers as well as they support those in need around us through the cold season.

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