Wheelchair Application Project





History Logs

Project Description

Country: USA

Location: South Dakota

Total Budget: $6,000

Area of Focus: Disease prevention and treatment

Activity Type: Health: Disease

Summary: Through collaboration with community organizations, members, and Rotary groups/clubs, this project will obtain wheelchair applications from Native Americans throughout District 5610 to provide appropriate wheelchairs for improved health and well-being.

The objectives of this Wheelchair Application Project request are:

1. Obtain completed Hope Haven International (HHI)'s wheelchair request applications from Native Americans throughout District 5610

2. Expand Native American partner community organizations to assist in collection of the HHI Applications

3. Engage members of the Omniciye Multicultural Rotary Community Corps and District 5610 Rotarians in volunteering to assist in the project

Activities to achieve the respective objectives will include:

1. Prior to COVID-19, fourteen (14) HHI wheelchair request applications and four additional requests for wheelchairs were received. Four wheelchairs were placed just as Covid-19 was hitting. The project has been in abeyance since. It is anticipated that up to 200 applications will be received by the completion of this phase of the project. With receipt of the applications, HHI, with the assistance of community partners, (see below) will be able to restart the fitting and distribution of wheelchairs to Reservation and urban Native American communities throughout District 5610.

2. Shortly after the Omniciye satellite club of Rushmore Rotary was launched in 2014, Mark Siemonsma, Director of Development, HHI, and member of Sioux Falls West Rotary club, gave a wheelchair demonstration to Omniciye. The members assured him that while the Indian Health Service (IHS) provides wheelchairs to Native Americans when hospitalized, both the quantity and quality of wheelchairs available for home use are limited. They felt there was significant need for wheelchairs on both the reservations and in the Rapid City urban Native American communities. From the Pine Ridge Area... Directory... [of]... Rotary Requests, HHI saw the request of Re-Member for support of construction ramps for wheelchairs. Siemonsma and Tom Katus, Omniciye member, met with Cory True, Executive Director, Re-Member . Thus, the beginning of the evolution of this project. In subsequent meetings HHI met with the Pine Ridge and Sharps Corner Dialysis centers, the Whiteclay Makerspace and BEAR projects, all of which have begun circulating HHI's Applications for wheelchairs. Both HHI and Omniciye had adjoining booths at the Lakota Nation Education Conference (LNEC) held in tandem with the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) tournament in December 2019 . Siemonsma measured Tom Casey, for an upgraded wheelchair. Casey is manager/senior broadcaster of KILI the 50,000 Khw "Voice of the Oglala Lakota Nation". Casey suffers from MS and has long been in an inadequate wheelchair. Verl Scheibe, PP and PAG, subsequently secured a re-furbished motorized wheelchair for Casey from the Hots Springs VA Center.

3. Building on this history, HHI and the Omniciye Multicultural Rotary Community Corps will expand their cooperation and engage OMRCC members and Rotarians in volunteering to assist in a program to rapidly expand the collection of HHI Wheelchair Applications. These will include:

A. Book adjoining booths at the 2021 Lakota Nations Education Conference, co-sponsoring a community/Rotary opening reception, hosting a special forum during LNEC on the proposed Wheelchair Distribution Program in Indian country, advertising HHI Applications in the LNEC program, collecting HHI applications and raffling a Whiteclay Makerspace star quilt.

B. Meet with Raising Healthy Families Together to collect updated organizational and project request profiles for a 2022 edition of the highly successful Pine Ridge Area Service Organizations Directory; History, Profiles and Rotary Requests. This updated Directory will be published and widely distributed at the Rotary District 5610 conference, fall 2022.

C. Collect and compile up to 200 HHI Applications which can then lay the groundwork for relaunching the wheelchair distribution program throughout District 5610 on the reservations of South Dakota.

Direct Community Beneficiaries: Mobilize 200 Native Americans in District 5610 who need wheelchairs. Diabetes is a rampant disease on the Reservations, as well as the Native American urban communities in District 5610. Many elderly Native Americans must receive dialysis blood treatment every week, and a significant number are amputees. Many of the elderly and all the amputees need wheelchairs for mobility. There are also scores of Native youth from preschool to young adulthood who need wheelchairs to provide mobility.

Health professionals from Omniciye and other District 5610 Rotary clubs will be asked to identify wheelchair needs prior to submission of a Global Grant Request. Such needs assessment will include discussions with Indian Health Service personnel on the Reservations and Sioux San Rapid City IHS facilities. Veteran's Administration Hospitals and Centers in Hot Springs, Sturgis, Rapid City and Sioux Falls, as well as private clinics and dialysis units in all locations will also be part of this assessment. As a result of the assessment, HHI, Omniciye and District 5610 Rotarians will learn much about the specific needs for wheelchairs from preschoolers to the elderly. Once this assessment is complete, the Global Grant Request will be submitted.

Indirect Community Beneficiaries: Groups that are affiliated with the Omniciye Multicultural Rotary Community Corps. During its seven years of existence, Omniciye has developed linkages and membership from more than 30 Native American community groups in Rapid City and on the Pine Ridge reservation. This project will enable a number of these groups to benefit. These include: Raising Healthy Families Together (RHFT), an informal network of more than 260 social service organizations operating on the Pine Ridge reservation. Approximately 60 of these organizations hold quarterly meetings to provide updates on their respective projects. This networking enables cross pollination of these tribal, nonprofit, federal, and state organizations. From 2016-18 then as the Omniciye Multicultural Satellite Club, RHFT received support for completion of a Contacts Directory and additionally authorized publication of Pine Ridge Area Service Organizations Directory; History, Profiles and Rotary Requests. This latter Directory included profiles of 20 of the RHFT organizations which requested specific projects for Rotary's consideration. That Directory has proven to be very popular with the community groups. This project will enable updating and expanding the specific project requests. Rotarians Linda Peterson and Tom Katus, both members of the informal Omniciye Committee of the Rushmore club, were very engaged in the writing, editing and publishing of the Directory in 2018. This grant will enable an updating of this Directory. Thus those RHFT community members that choose to submit revised profiles and specific project requests may well receive attention from Rotary clubs throughout the District.

Lakota Nation Education Conference (LNEC) is in its 43rd year. It is co-managed by Maurice Twiss and Terrie Jo Gibbons, members of OWMRCC. Held in tandem with the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) tournament, LNEC is scheduled for December 15-18 2021. Both HHI and Omniciye have been active supporters and participants in LNEC at previous conferences, most recently 2019 held before COVID-19 . Both plan to participate again this year with a formal presentation of the HHI Wheelchairs for Indian Country as a panel presentation at LNEC . As was previously mentioned HHI and OMRCC will also book adjoining booths, including a star quilt raffle, advertise in the LNEC program, and co-sponsor the LNEC opening reception. HHI application distribution is already underway by the Dialysis Centers at Pine Ridge and Sharps Corner. The Whiteclay Makerspace and the BEAR project have just recently agreed to collect applications (both organizations are also members of OMRCC). In return, these organizations will receive $10 per applicant stipend that can be used to treat their respective staffs for their volunteer applicant collection. A Whiteclay Artist will also benefit from sale of her star quilt for the LNEC raffle. More tribal organizations will be solicited at LNEC to similarly engage in HHI Application distribution and collection.

Omniciye Multicultural Rotary Community Corps will benefit by engaging its volunteers in support of the HHI Native American Wheelchair Distribution Program. It will also benefit Rotary clubs throughout District 5610 by helping them link up with their various urban and reservation Native American communities' neighbors. Finally, OMRCC will receive the profits from the star quilt raffled at LNEC, which will provide seed funding for future community projects identified by OMRCC.


Re-Member, is a registered 501(c)(3) organization which hosts 1,000 youth and adult volunteers annually from the U.S, and globally to conduct service projects on the Pine Ridge Reservation. See Pine Ridge Area Service Organizations Directory; History, Profiles and Rotary Requests, Raising Healthy Families Together... Assisted By... Omniciye Multicultural Rotary Club... (June 2018), pp 27-28

LNI is the largest high school tournament in the US with 32 regional teams (16 girls and 16 boys) participating in basketball, wrestling, Knowledge Bowl, business planning and traditional games competition. The Lakota Nation Education Conference held in tandem with LNI is the largest Conference, with over 600 teachers and students participating annually. LNI has received extensive national visibility. It was featured as a cover story in Sports Illustrated. Retired NBA Hall of Fame member Bill Russell has twice been its honorary guest.

Mark Siemonsma met Maurice Twiss first met at the 2019 LNEC. Mark subsequently provided a wheelchair spring of 2020 to Maurice who was recovering from back surgery.

Tom Casey, manager/senior broadcaster, KILI, and Maurice Twiss, both of whom received HHI wheelchairs will be asked to be panelists together with Mark Siemonsma and Verl Scheibe.

Raffling off star quilts has been the main source of revenue for Omniciye. At the Rotary District Conference in Pierre in 2016 the Omniciye star quilt was won by one of the Australian Rotarians who had been hosted by both Rapid City and Pierre Rotarians.

These will include the Black Hills area clubs i.e. Host Custer Club, Hot Springs, Spearfish, Rushmore Rotary, Rapid City Noon Club, St. Thomas Moore Interact Club, and SDSM&T Rotaract Club. It will also include the Winner club responding to any Rosebud Sioux Tribe area requests, Wagner club responding to any Yankton and Santee Sioux Tribes areas' requests, Brookings club responding to any Flandreau Sioux Tribe requests, Watertown responding to any Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate requests, Mobridge responding to any Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes' requests, Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Pierre clubs responding to requests from their urban Native American communities.

Sandra, who was previously an officer with Omniciye, has been invited to join the Rushmore club. She is still receiving her orientation and is not yet an official club member. She has met with Scott Van Dam, President and the leadership of the Rushmore club. It is highly likely that she will Chair the Omniciye Committee of the Rushmore club, which has long had Linda Peterson, PDG and Tom Katus as Committee members.

Project Contact Person

District: 5610

Rotary Club of: Sioux Falls West

Primary Contact: Mark Siemonsma

Email: msiemons@hopehaven.org

Project Status

Fully Pledged
This project is "Fully Pledged". This means the amount of the pledges is equal to the total budget of the project. Now the project needs to be finalized and go through the club signature process. This process gets started on the administration page.

Project listed for the 2021-22 Rotary Year.

Proposed Financing

Existing Contributions Towards This Project





Sioux Falls West (5610)









DDF contributions in grey are pending approval of the corresponding district committee.

Project Supporting Documents

There are no documents yet for this project.
Go to the administration page to upload documents.

Project Photos

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History Log Entries


by Mark Siemonsma

System Entry: Creation of project page.


by Don Norton

The district grant subcommittee did not approve this application based on Rotary International guidelines regarding public relations projects.


by Mark Siemonsma

Project is still in progress. Potentially occurring in Fall 2022.


by Mark Siemonsma

This project is still in progress. Potentially occurring in Fall 2022.

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