The Story of the White Earth Mission
When Kids Quest was asked to be part of the White Earth Mission in 2011, the decision to do so took mere seconds. As a business serving families, taking part in a program to benefit children was a natural fit for us. Founded in 2006 by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, a leader in casino finance, the mission was created to serve individuals, young and old, who were under-served by existing government and Tribal programs.
What began as a small group consisting primarily of Valerie’s family members, has now grown to an annual event with over 100 men, women and youth gathering together each summer to make a difference in the lives of others. Volunteers are recruited from within the casino vendor community, as well as a good share coming from local and regional church programs. In addition to manpower, other vendors and corporations contribute financially to the fund that makes this yearly endeavor possible.
The White Earth Mission has two divisions of action—the first was designed to impact Native youth through a program that focuses on mentoring, core values development, and enhanced self-esteem. Children in the program benefit from healthy breakfasts and snacks, and spend their days enjoying art and music activities, and as well as discussion groups, skits and physical challenges. In addition to that, the children receive “fully loaded” backpacks at the end of the week to successfully equip them for the coming school year.
The second facet of the mission provides construction expertise for much-needed repairs and structural upgrades for the homes of Tribal elders—protecting them from harsh Minnesota winters and sweltering summers. Side projects have included construction on a chemical dependency treatment center and sober living facility, as well as a transitional living shelter for homeless families and individuals. Throughout the week, roofs and windows are replaced, ramps are built, siding is repaired, painting is done, and bathrooms and kitchens are updated by teams fueled by faith and compassion.
Kids Quest officially took over the planning for the children’s programming in 2013. Content was created to specifically address relevant problems and provide relatable lessons each day. In 2014, inspired by Valerie’s work, Kids Quest co-workers Ann Zenor and Rachel Perez created the annual “Frozen Free Market” that takes place each fall, delivering warm clothing, personal care items and household goods to the families in Cass Lake and surrounding communities. In 2016, Kids Quest received a special truckload of donations generated by the congregation at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Buffalo, MN for this event. This summer, that same church will be sending volunteers!
The long-term goal is to bring “Red-Horse Missions” to other reservation-based communities throughout Indian Country. Where there is a need, there is potential for this mission work to make an impact! Programs are currently being discussed for South Dakota and Arizona.