White Swan Yuúmaash Provides Safe Place for Kids

More than two years ago, the All Nations Center (ANC) staff embarked on a dream of beginning a new work in White Swan, a town with many needs located 20 miles west of the ANC. In the words of a White Swan elder, “For the past several years the youth have controlled White Swan, and it’s become a place where violence, drugs and fear of gang reprisals have ruined everything that used to be so good about this town.”

Over the past few years several disturbing incidents have involved 9- to 13-year-old children. The Methodist pastor’s home was burned down, pigs kept at the White Swan High School were killed and mutilated, and various teachers' pets have been killed and run up the flagpole the next morning for everyone to notice.

When ANC began the process to branch out, Peter Trzinski, ANC pastor, prayed about a vacant building in downtown White Swan that looked like it would be perfect as a community ministry center. ANC began negotiations to rent it for the 2005–06 school year. God used two friendships developed over the past five years with Yakama Indian leaders to influence the owners of the building, and All Nations signed a lease in October.

The new ministry, called the White Swan Yuúmaash, which is Sahaptin for “A Place to Gather,” has become the local “hot spot” for 40–70 children after school until 8 p.m. daily. Families find that it is a safe, clean place free of swearing, alcohol and drugs where their children can play games, get homework help, do craft projects, learn to bake and have nutritious snacks.

Because of its location in the center of the community, the Yuúmaash will serve more people each month than ANC serves in a year.

Leaders have let the White Swan kids know that the Yuúmaash belongs to them for as long as they respect it and help to make it a safe place for all.

White Swan children have definitely bought into the program. The front door to the Yuúmaash was accidentally left open one Sabbath morning. A sign on the door announced that the building would open at 4 p.m., but the staff was held up and didn’t arrive until 7:15. As the staff members were getting out their keys to unlock the building, teens standing by the door said, “It’s already open.”

Concerned that the center had been unlocked for nearly 12 hours, the staff took inventory. Although it appeared people had been into the building, nothing was missing! The kids of White Swan proved that they want something better for their community, and they are willing to protect it.

Though ANC members don’t know just where the funds for more than the first year will come from in the future, they trust that God will continue to work miracles in White Swan.

In the future, the Yuúmaash may offer a soup kitchen, evening AA or anger management meetings, ladies’ craft nights, a Pathfinder club, parenting classes, Native art and craft classes, and much more.

Share

Dean Kravig, ANC program director