Each day, Caterpillar employees and dealers all over the world live Our Values in Action in tangible ways that make a real difference in people’s lives. To fully appreciate how this happens requires a trip to remote Oglala County, South Dakota – one of the most impoverished counties in the United States – where the Chanku Waste ministry is working to address the needs of at risk youth and their families.
There, one late afternoon, as Chanku Waste Ranch camp leader Matt Hadden was driving a bus full of kids home for the day, Matt was astonished to see a brand-new Cat® 416 backhoe loader roll in – a much-needed donation that is helping create better living conditions and opportunities for the community.
Chanku Waste Ranch is a summer camp for kids on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the South Dakota Badlands. Life on the reservation can be hard, with an estimated 60 percent of the homes severely substandard without one or more basic necessities such as running water, electricity and operational sewage systems. The camp’s outreach to Lakota families inspired Caterpillar employee Brad Kough to start looking for a way to help. Soon, Brad, along with other employees and their families, had raised donations for the ranch, but it wasn’t until Brad was connected with a fellow employee, Todd Lange, that everything came together. Through Todd and the contribution of Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division, the group purchased a brand new backhoe loader. Then Cat® dealer Butler Equipment stepped in to donate delivery expenses and some pre-delivery work.
Kough recalls the enthusiasm that surrounded the machine’s arrival: “The kids couldn’t believe that it was for them and the camp. Normally donations tend to have seen better days, but this beauty was brand new! News spread fast throughout the community and it was humbling to see the excitement it brought.”
In addition to helping bring much needed repair and basic necessities to local homes, the camp is also using the backhoe loader to train young people on the operation and maintenance of heavy machinery. For some, like Ilijah, the first young man to receive this training, it is an eye-opening experience to learn about job opportunities around the world for someone who knows how to operate a machine like the Cat 416. Kough said, “His eyes lit up as you could see him begin to dream about the possibilities this might open up for his life. It was a very proud moment for me and the other Caterpillar employees who were there. We feel blessed to be a part of this special project.”
Find out more about Chanku Waste Ranch here.