Tokata Youth Center facility receives $3,000 in cooperative support

Tokata Youth Center and Central Electric 2017

Ken Schlimgen (far left), Central Electric general manager, presenting a check on behalf of the cooperatives.

The Tokata Youth Center in Fort Thompson, SD, received $1,000 from Basin Electric Class C member, Central Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Mitchell, SD, with additional matching donations of $1,000 from Basin Electric’s Charitable Giving program and $1,000 from CoBank’s Sharing Success program, towards the construction of a new, permanent Tokata Youth Center facility in the heart of Fort Thompson. This $3,000 cooperative donation will in turn be matched by a private donor for the Tokata Youth Center Capital Campaign.

The center currently operates out of a small, temporary building which is inadequate to meet the growing needs of the center and community. The location of the new center is within walking distance to a majority of the youth and families. Tokata Youth Center Director Aaron Vaughn says the facility will not only be a home to the center but establish a “sense of community” in Fort Thompson as a local gathering place for various programs.

Vaughn projected construction to begin later this year or early 2018, contingent upon funding.

Diamond Willow Ministries in Fort Thompson began operating Tokata Youth Center in January 2015 after the local Boys and Girls Club ceased operation. The Tokata Youth Center provides a positive environment for tribal youth aged 6 to 18 years to develop culturally relevant character qualities, receive scholastic assistance and support in overcoming daily obstacles.

“I’m trying to work myself out of a job as fast as I can,” Vaughn says. His focus for the center is to form the next generation of community leaders. Teaching children how to share, resolve arguments, or even lose a friendly soccer game will help them develop the life skills needed for future leadership positions, he says.

Fort Thompson is the primary community of the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation, where the poverty rate is 56 percent and the annual per capita income is $11,405. Forty-four percent of the tribal members are under the age of 18.

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