Cherokee Nation gives nearly $9,000 for mental health, food services

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/17/2020 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials recently donated nearly $9,000 to mental health and substance abuse support programs as well as food pantry services in Rogers County.

According to a CN release, the tribe contributed nearly $8,000 to the Rogers County district attorney’s office and $700 to Light of Hope when Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Keith Austin visited the groups on Sept. 11.

“The Cherokee Nation has long been a supporter of organizations in northeastern Oklahoma and around the state that provide our tribal citizens and all community citizens with valuable resources,” Hoskin said. “Mental health awareness programs as well as food security programs are changing the lives of our people, and I commend the work these great organizations do every single day in and around the Cherokee Nation.” 

The release states that contributions to the agencies were provided through the tribe’s annual donations and charitable contribution funds, which are set aside to assist advocacy groups, food pantries, shelters, churches and other organizations.  

“I am thankful for our partnership on this project,” said Austin. “We all must work together to help connect students who need support with mental health and substance abuse issues.” 

The Rogers County district attorney’s office in partnership with the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office and the nonprofit organization Light of Hope created a program to bring awareness to issues surrounding mental health and sexual abuse in youth, states the release. It also states the CN donation will be used to create an education program that will open conversation in families, resulting in better awareness and knowledge of the long-term impact that untreated sexual abuse can have on mental health. 

“I really appreciate the cooperation in getting this public education piece out on such an important issue and we just really appreciate the tribe working with us to do that,” said Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard. “It’s important to the community, it’s important to everyone that we deal with these issues and the tribe’s assistance with this is very appreciated.” 

According to the release, in addition to being a support center for families and individuals struggling with addiction and life difficulties, Light of Hope provides food assistance through its community food bank. The release states the organization distributes food boxes each week to churches and organizations so that they can distribute to families and individuals in need. Light of Hope will use the funding for their food pantry to purchase a pallet jack.  

“We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Cherokee Nation. We are so grateful that we can work alongside each other, to build a better community together,” Layla Freeman, Light of Hope founder and CEO, said. “We love how Cherokee Nation understands the immediate needs, and always helps to meet those needs as we bring them to their attention. Collaboration is the key, and Cherokee Nation is a great collaborative partner. We are so grateful for Keith Austin and Chief Hoskin, and the impact they are having in our community.” 

Hoskin and Austin also visited the Boys & Girls Club of Chelsea to present a proclamation declaring Sept. 11, 2020, as Chelsea Boys & Girls Club Day in the CN. They also presented a $1,000 donation to the club for its community leadership and service through the COVID-19 pandemic, which included distributing about 12,000 meals to those in need in Chelsea and Vinita.

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