Cherokee Rainbow House helps people in need

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
10/13/2009 08:17 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Main Cherokee Phoenix
CherokeeNation citizen Becky Armes from Locust Grove, Okla., picks through clothing atthe Rainbow House in Locust Grove. (Photoby Jami Custer)
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – With the economy suffering, many people have asked charitable organizations for food, clothing and other necessary items. For many people within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction, the Cherokee Rainbow House is their answer.

The Rainbow House is a non-profit charitable organization started in 1996 by the Cherokee Elder Council to help needy people obtain household items they may not be able to buy regularly.

Not associated with the CN, the Cherokee Elder Council operates the Rainbow House entirely from donations, while volunteers sort and stock items and maintain the facility. Everything in the store is provided free to customers, and as of October, the facility had helped more than 11,000 people this year.

“Our Rainbow House was originally started as a project to help people. We didn’t really know what that was going to amount to,” said chief elder Jack Hummingbird. “It was kind of a learning process.”

He said the original plan was to take clothing donations, but that grew to taking household items such as appliances, furniture and anything else families might need.

“We found out a long time ago that this area is what I would consider and impoverished area,” he said. “We found out a long time ago that people needed a lot of things here. It could be food, clothing or appliances.”

Hummingbird said clothing is the most-needed item and that the Rainbow House frequently runs out of clothing as cold weathers moves in.

“We try to put stuff back on reserve just for that purpose. It seems like we have a call for that quite a few times during the year…especially during the winter, seems like it’s the worst time,” he said.

MORE INFORMATION

Contact the Cherokee Rainbow House at (918) 479-5118 or 1-800-337-9084 or visit the Cherokee Elders Council Web site.
The facility is located at 117 Harold Andrews Blvd., the same building it started in 13 years ago. However, Hummingbird said the organization needs a larger building.

“We are trying to find a new location or a better location that would be more suited to us,” he said. “This building is quite old, and it’s too small. We have outgrown this facility.”

Cherokee Elder Council Treasurer Audrey Selken said the store serves all people, not just Cherokees, who come from Tulsa, Spavinaw, Jay and other areas.

“We have no criteria. We feel that it’s not a crime to be poor, and we feel it’s enough to come in our door and ask for help. They don’t even have to ask,” she said.

CN citizen and Rainbow House client Becky Armes said she visits the store twice a week because it provides quality clothes.

“I live right here in Locust Grove, and I come to the Rainbow House usually every Tuesday and Thursday because anybody can come down here who doesn’t have a lot of money and get real nice clothes,” she said.

Armes said she has donated to the organization before and suggests that anybody with unwanted clothes should donate them to the Rainbow House because people “could use them.”

According to cherokeeelderscouncil.cherokee.org, funds to operate the Rainbow House come from Cherokee elder contributions, customers, the United Way and local church groups, including contributions from people around the United States.

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