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The Works Released!

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom, Press Release, Uncategorized

Our first issue of The Works in 2024 is now available! In this issue we introduce you to Kai and Tyler. Both are thriving in Black Hills Works’ Shared Living program, and the first two people out of 24 we will be introducing you to in 2024! We also recap YOUR impact in 2023, and introduce you to the 2024 Artist of the Year, Colleen Romano! Check out the latest issue of The Works to be inspired by and see your impact! Thank you!

You have the power to change lives!

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom, Uncategorized

Remarks by Deann Arneson, aka “Harry’s mama”!

“Anytime I get a chance to talk about, support, and encourage others to donate to Black Hills Works, I do. Never, ever underestimate the power you have to influence others, simply by sharing.

“Here’s an example of why I like to talk about Black Hills Works:  My boss and his wife didn’t know anything about Black Hills Works until I shared with them about my son Harry and all the ways the organization supports him. Our casual conversation inspired Bill Chamberlain, owner of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home, to donate by sponsoring a table at the 2023 gala. Even more importantly, Bill has provided for Black Hills Works in his will! That is what can happen when you share your story with others.

“This year’s gala raised funds for accessible homes at Black Hills Works. Harry is a praying man. For almost two years, Harry has praying and waiting for a private apartment. Two years is a long time to wait. Just this week, a private apartment became available. Harry’s name was at the top of the list, and before the end of the month, Harry will be moving to his own space to be his own man! Thank you, Black Hills Works donors, for helping with housing!

What does Black Hills Works mean to us?

“Harry was born with a blood alcohol level of .39%. During his time with us as a foster child, if I heard it once I heard it a hundred times, both audibly and silently: “Harry doesn’t stand a chance.” That’s the last thing you want to tell me. Do not tell me that something I am responsible for doesn’t stand a chance.

“It was easy to help Harry have ‘more than a chance’ when he was young and lived at home. At home, I was in control. But then Harry became an adult and it was time for him to transition out of high school and into adulthood.

“One option for Harry’s future was that he could live with me until I die (and I will die – I work in a funeral home, so I know these things!) and then someone else could transition him. I didn’t want that. Instead, I wanted to help Harry with the transition process to living independently and help the others involved.  I wanted to help Harry learn to be less dependent on me and learn to trust others to help him.  

“Harry wasn’t the least bit receptive about this plan. He liked living with his mama. But one thing I have consistently told Harry is even though we are done growing on the outside, God wants us to grow more on the inside. And this was one just one more way God wanted Harry to grow. 

“We started our journey with Black Hills Special Services Co-op in Hot Springs. Our case manager, Cindy in the green Jeep, kept speaking of Black Hills Works and the opportunities it offered in Rapid City. I knew nothing about Black Hills Works. But we applied and we waited for housing – again, a two year wait. Two years is a long time to wait. Then, an apartment with a roommate came open. Harry was at the top of the list and to Black Hills Works we went.

“Even though I talk a big talk, moving Harry from Hot Springs to Rapid City was scary for me. But Harry knew it was what God wanted and in hindsight, I think maybe God was trying to grow Mama on the inside as well!

“And what blessings came with his move to Black Hills Works!  I could talk all night about that but these are at the top of our list:

  • More job opportunities for Harry
  • Chances for Harry to fail and be rescued by someone other than Mama
  • Getting to do things his brothers don’t

What does Black Hills Works mean to me and Harry?

“To Harry, it means the world. Black Hills Works is his world, his life, his future, and a safe place to continue growing on the inside.

“To me, it means security and peace.  Security and peace knowing Black Hills Works, thanks to donors like you, has all the supports and resources Harry needs to stand more than just a chance in this world.  Not only today, with me here, but also into tomorrow’s future, when I am not here.  And that means the world to me.”

The Works Released!

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom, Press Release, Uncategorized

Our last issue of The Works in 2023 is now available! This issue concludes our 65th anniversary year and provides a glimpse of our history through excerpts of articles published in the newsletter throughout the years, paired with articles that share what’s happening now. You and generations of donors have made an incredible difference in the lives of people with disabilities! Check out the latest issue of The Works to see your impact!

P.S. Don’t forget about Giving Tuesday! Help us reach our goal of 65 donors for 65 years by Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2023! Thank you!

The Works – Q1 2023

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

The most recent edition of The Works newsletter is now available! In this edition of The Works, you will meet Dean Baker, Mindy Elliott, and Dan Raba, just three of our 65 faces for 65 years! Your generosity means that Dean, Mindy, Dan, and all their friends lead very full lives! Because of you, they are thriving! You will also read about the Larson family’s gift of music, Black Hills Brain Health’s new look, and more! Thank YOU for your impact. Thank YOU for changing lives! 

Mike’s journey: “I am Radiant”

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Mike S. is an affable gentleman in his seventies with a warm, ready smile and obvious sense of humor whose eyes light up behind his brown-rimmed glasses. His sister Karen remembers that he was a very happy baby and little boy. She says even back then everyone noticed his big smile.

Mike grew up in the Pierre area in the 1950s, first on a farm where he was his big sister’s sidekick, and then in town. He didn’t talk much, but he loved playing with other kids and riding his bike. In old black and white photos, he and his sister ride on their tricycles, play with their toy wagon, and visit the farm animals. Mike’s early experiences outside of family life were difficult, though. His first teacher in a one-room schoolhouse spanked and humiliated him in class when he couldn’t complete his lessons. Even some of his own relatives were unkind toward Mike because of his learning differences.

Fortunately, Mike’s parents were very strong advocates for him and knew he, and those like him, deserved respect and opportunities just like anyone else. His father withdrew him from that school and was instrumental in ensuring special education classes were then offered for Mike and other children in the Pierre area. His dad also worked with the governor to create the first charter in South Dakota for The ARC, a national organization that advocates for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In 1968, when Mike turned 19, he joined Black Hills Works, still a young organization at that time, leaving home to move to Rapid City. In his 54 years at BHW, he has learned many skills and lived independently in several different apartment complexes in town. Staff say Mike is “hard working, loyal, and ambitious.” Mike worked in custodial services at the Federal Building and Ellsworth AFB for several decades, where the high quality of his work led to special projects.

Mike has always been a big football and baseball fan, especially of the Steelers. He watches games frequently and follows the team stats in the newspaper. Mike also loves to bowl and was very active in Special Olympics until recently. Now that he’s older, he prefers to play bowling videogames on his iPad. He also loves to fish. Among Mike’s many travels around the United States, both with his family, with tour groups, and with Black Hills Works, he has gone deep sea fishing in Florida, visited Hawaii and Alaska, gone to NFL games (including a Super Bowl), and more.

Mike’s family ties remain strong. He often visited his parents in Pierre by bus and traveled with them to see other relatives. Although his parents have passed away, Mike keeps in close touch with his sister Karen, who lives in Pittsburgh, and his niece. He enjoys their frequent videochats and annual visits.

Today, Mike is retired and lives in a sunny, open apartment in west Rapid. He likes the convenient location because he can walk to restaurants or the gas station for treats and even to the hair salon when he needs a trim. He loves grilling steak on the shared apartment patio with his fellow apartment mates.

Karen, Mike’s sister, says, “I have so much respect for Mike and his accomplishments and am so proud of the way he overcame so much adversity over the years to make a good life for himself. I often wonder what would have become of him if our dad hadn’t had the persistence to assure that Mike would be given the opportunity to live a normal, productive life.”

We at Black Hills Works are also proud of Mike and thankful for his parents’ pioneering advocacy in the 1950s and 1960s. We are honored to play a role in Mike’s ongoing journey!

The Workplace — January 2023

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

View and download the January 2023 edition of The Workplace by clicking the image below. In this issue we begin our 65th anniversary celebration of people and stories!

The Works – Q4 2022

February 22, 2024 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

The most recent edition of The Works newsletter is now available! In this edition, you will read about your impact! You will read about the exciting plans to bring permanent bocce ball courts to Rapid City, thanks to the Wellmark Foundation, a strong partnership between Black Hills Works’ the Storm and Rapid City Flame teams, and tremendous community support for Special Olympics. You see what your gifts made possible for Codie, who found a job he loves, and how our central kitchen is serving up nutritious meals and saving staff time, thanks to YOU . . . and more. You’ve changed lives in 2022! Thank YOU