The warmth of Drake’s heart went beyond his school, his church, and his community. The Durkees became supporters of the Tree of Life Ministries located in Mission, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south central South Dakota, Melissa’s home state.
The Lakota in South Dakota are the poorest racial group in the USA with a median income of $7,400 annually. They are forced to live in unhealthy dwellings, which is coupled with acute poverty marked by 80% unemployment. They lack access to a proper diet and suffer from a 70% alcoholism rate and teenage suicide rates eight times the national average. Tree of Life Ministries was created in 1985 to provide free repairs to the substandard housing. The Ministry added a food pantry so that no child would go to bed hungry. The meal program developed from feeding 25 families a week to providing meals for 1,000 each week. The Thrift Shop provides warm and adequate clothing for families. Tree of Life also participates in special programs such as remedial reading, dental-care, eyeglasses programs, nurse-care, suicide prevention and alcohol recovery. Tree of Life Ministry has worked hard to overcome the negative attitudes held between cultures, and has become a respected Christian voice among the Lakota people.
In 2014 Drake, along with his family, spent Thanksgiving vacation on the Rosebud Reservation volunteering. Drake, his dad, his brother, and his grandfather worked on restoring a substandard house so that a grandmother and her five grandchildren could move into adequate housing. His family purchased, prepared and served 400 Thanksgiving meals to residents. Drake loved serving the dessert to the folks there.
If you would like to support this organization in Drake’s name follow this link. http://treeofliferelief.org/