A Wing and a Prayer November 16 2020

Faith is not exactly the right word. I’m not sure there is a word for the way this nonprofit has operated for the past six years. It’s run on faith, yes, but also other things, like hope, sweat, and stupidity. It has meant taking a lot of leaps, setting aside preconceived notions; doing things without expectation of what might be received in return. And so there have been difficult days and there have been really difficult days. And then there have been days that have seemed downright miraculous: Countless times when I said yes to an artist when there weren’t enough funds in the account, only to have an order or donation come in later that day to cover the cost. Many days when we have been blessed to be able to truly help someone, at least for the moment, not with a handout, but by providing income that they have earned through work they love to do. Perhaps the phrase “wing and a prayer” describes it best.

Earlier this year, the nonprofit experienced some setbacks and you could say that we found ourselves face to face with the harshest of harsh realities of the Pine Ridge Reservation. It is tempting to give up when you are not only faced with a situation that seems hopeless, but also have people actually telling you to quit, some of them because they don’t want you to succeed and some because they themselves have given up any hope of seeing real change for the people.

But isn’t it at exactly those times when we have to dig the deepest - reach the farthest to find the way out of the pit of despair - squint the hardest to see the light at the end of the tunnel? And isn’t it also during difficult times when even the smallest kindness can seem so profound?

And so, imagine how moving it was for me to receive not one, but four calls out of the blue from people who saw what Seven Fires Art is doing and asked to get on board: Four strong, educated, experienced women leaders who recognize the need and our Mission to respond to that need.

First, Maretta Afraid of Bear sent a message saying she would love to fill the spot on our board. Then Tamara LaPlante called to say she saw what we’re doing and wanted to help. Then two others, Bethany Reed and Guneeta Singh-Bah called within days of each other from opposite ends of the continent, with similar stories of how they recognized the need, thought about starting their own nonprofit, but instead did a search and found in Seven Fires a Mission they could support.

I couldn’t be more grateful, encouraged and excited about the future of Seven Fires Art. Thank you all for your continued support. Watch for announcements highlighting our new members … and for news of our growth … in the days and weeks to come. It is truly exciting to think where we can go from here!

Lovingly and gratefully ... and hopefully submitted,
Natalie Hilleman