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Grassroots advocate named 2016 Distinguished Alumnus

St. Joseph’s Indian School is proud to recognize Julee Richards as our 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. Julee will be accepting her award during St. Joseph’s 8th Grade Graduation Ceremony in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel Friday, May 20.

“My candidate should receive the Distinguished Alumni Award because of her involvement in her community!” stated her nomination, submitted by Andy, St. Joseph’s Alumni Associate.

Richards discovered her daughter was involved in methamphetamines in 2013. She didn’t wait for someone to help her, but tackled this problem head on… even to the point of having a gun pointed at her. Richards is the founder of ‘Mothers Against Meth Alliance,’ which is a grassroots organization fighting meth on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“She is a true hero in my book,” said Andy.

Julee Richards founded the Mothers Against Meth Alliance to fight meth on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Julee Richards founded the Mothers Against Meth Alliance to fight meth on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Julee attended St. Joseph’s from 1979 to 1987, when she completed eighth grade. After eighth grade graduation, Julee went on to graduate from Pine Ridge High School in 1991.

In 2013, Julee decided to stand up and fight against meth after learning one of her daughters was addicted to the dangerous drug. “By the time I came out of denial and realized we had a problem, she was already a full-blown meth addict. She was already into the meth world… there was nowhere to turn for help.”

Instead of taking a back seat, Richards decided to take a stand and form a group — so the Mothers Against Meth Alliance was born. In addition to hosting meth awareness presentations for youth on the reservation and coordinating outreach and awareness events, she also developed a Mothers Against Meth Alliance Facebook page. The social media page answers questions and responds to calls for help from families with loved ones who are addicted to meth.

“I’m going to fight this with everything I have because it’s such a strong, evil spirit,” Richards said. “And I’m going to get other people involved so it’s a big, community, reservation-wide effort, so we can all get involved. Because that’s what it’s going to take to overcome, to beat this meth.”

Julee currently lives in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She celebrates life with her four children and three grandbabies.

“Julee is working hard to fight the drug problem on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She started a group — Mothers Against Meth Alliance — and they work to keep the youth on the reservation safe. With little money of her own, she still opens her doors to those in need.” — Jean, Registrar/Program Evaluation Associate

St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.


Previous award winners include:

 

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