The Catholic Social Services Outreach Project

Every volume of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Anthology contains a chapter that gives a close-up view of a single small project. It is our way of presenting the human side of grantmaking and the people who are behind some of the most interesting projects that the Foundation supports. While much of the Foundation’s work involves initiatives that attempt to affect policy and systems change, a significant portion of its grantmaking goes toward funding new ways that committed individuals have developed to improve health in disadvantaged communities. Past Anthology volumes have featured chapters on an Albuquerque high school for addicted teenagers, health services for homeless pregnant women in San Francisco, training inner-city teenagers in Los Angeles to run the marathon as a way to build self-esteem, using traditional Indian techniques to reduce alcohol abuse among Native Americans in Gallup, N.M., and adopting a public health approach to curbing violence in poor neighborhoods of Chicago.

In this chapter, Digby Diehl, a freelance writer and frequent Anthology contributor, chronicles the work of Catholic Social Services to bring mental health and substance abuse counseling to the Lakota Sioux living on or near reservations in rural South Dakota. Like many of the up-close-and-personal stories featured in the Anthology, this project was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Local Initiative Funding Partners program.