Giving Back

Zach, Amélie and Lakota kids on the Pine Ridge reservation

For a long time now, I have been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity. I have often wondered how in the world I could reciprocate and felt lost at how to do this. I finally realized while giving back directly might not be needed, giving back indirectly is definitely needed. One morning a few weeks ago, the executive director of a non-profit called Conscious Alliance invited me and the kids to go help feed 850 families on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This was not totally random. Lance had been on the board of Conscious Alliance (, which helps Native Americans in some of the most impoverished communities in the country.

This was a symbolic pilgrimage because it felt like a way of honoring Lance (he had been there too) and doing something meaningful and eye opening for the kids. Pine Ridge is the poorest reservation in the country. It’s population is 30,000. The average lifespan is 50 years old. 80% of the people are unemployed. The people are riddled with diabetes, heart disease, and alcoholism. People live in total destitution and hunger. They live in a world of no hope. A world that was taken away from them with no means to make money. It is just plain sad. Nothing like perspective to give your life a lot of meaning.

The awesome Justin’s Nut Butter team.

Our job? To bag and distribute 850 turkeys (brought up from Boulder in a huge penske truck) as well as veggies, potatoes, corn, stuffing and of course Justin’s Nut Butter. We did this both by people coming to us and by driving and delivering door to door. The Chief and his wife have been doing this for 16 years.



I’ve been to my fair share of third world countries but this felt somehow sadder than anything I have ever seen. Somehow the people in India don’t feel as if they have completely given up hope but this is what it felt like on Pine Ridge. And it’s right in our back yard…right here in our very own FIRST?! world country.

Amélie delivering a turkey and food

My kids LOVED this opportunity. In fact, Amélie could have stayed for a week. They loved the communal feeling of working together. They loved interacting with the people…just trying to make a small gesture of kindness. It made them feel good. It made me feel good. Nothing like community work to get you out of your head.

Lance and I had a shared dream of exposing our children to eye opening experiences and give them perspective on how many people in the world live. One thing I have promised myself is I will make this dream come true.

I greatly encourage you to go out and help. It can feel defeating to see the disparity of a situation but if we were ALL doing a little bit here and there, it could really make a difference…and you don’t have to go all the way to South Dakota. I am sure there are plenty of opportunities right in your home town.

I felt honored to be asked to go to Pine Ridge, grateful to be with the Conscious Alliance and Justin’s Nut Butter teams and humbled for the individuals who opened their homes and allowed us to help.



17 thoughts on “Giving Back

  1. Oh yay! O yay! Good for you Nancy! I am so continually in awe of you my dear beautiful friend! I thought of you last night as I watch a program about new generation spiritual pioneers- their message, like yours, was so simple and strong- Be of service! With your gratitude, off you went, with your gorgeous Zachy & Ama, and were of service- to the people of Pine Ridge and to your children- what a gift for all of you. And I continue to be grateful for our friendship…how lucky I am to have you in my life. We will talk very soon!! Please. XOXO I love you, Kelly

  2. Hi Nancy,

    What a wonderful thing you and your children did by helping to distribute much needed food to the Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation! I volunteer here in Southern Utah at both the Utah Food Bank, where we stuff cardboard boxes with food, and at a church-sponsored soup kitchen, where we prepare lunches for less fortunate members of St. George. These are definitely “feel-good” activities and a way of giving support to those in need.

    Love, Greg

  3. Inspirational! What a beautiful experience and how cool that you, Zach and Amalie are creating your own stories in the same way that Lance discusses the idea in one of his blog entries last year. I so clearly remember reading it and thinking what is my family’s story and how do I interweave the importance of kindness, compassion and giving into our story? Thanks for the motivation and inspiration….love the blog! xxm

  4. I want to go next year!! It sounds amazing and looks like a life changing event for you and your kids. Thanks for writing about it and sharing it with us. Loved the photos – especially you looking so joyous and soaring!!!

  5. What an amazing experience for you and the kids Nancy. As always, you inspire and amaze me. I hope to do something similar with my family someday. I love you Nance…may you and the kids have a beautiful Thanksgiving. Xoxo

  6. I appreciate your post and for the well-stated words! So glad to see you all out there doing beautiful work.

    Thanks for giving….



  7. Lance and Neil… lovin the Indians! (I loved the Neil song at the end of the video btw – that is when I pretty much turned into a puddle.. you have just been so brilliant through all of this). Anyway this is amazing!

    I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Nancy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is so FANTASTIC and Just what the doctor ordered! the way to help heal a soul is to GIVE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I did not know this until I moved back to SF for good and my new job was with a non – profit and believe me I needed them way more than they needed me…You are so brilliant to expose your children to such good work and you have inspired me to get back out there roll up my sleeves and give bacK!
    so Thank you!
    lots of Love
    Susan B

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