From left: Waylon Rogers, Tribal Council (Ashland, Montana) Elderly Liaison; Mrs. Janet Scott, Vanna Schwamb, and Katherine Haugen, Elderly Program Administrative Assistant and local volunteer in Sheridan , Wyoming. Photo by Clara Caufield / Native Sun News Today

Never count out the elderly ladies

#BorderTownLife: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

SHERIDAN, Wyoming -- In September, two elderly ladies, Janet Scott (82) and Vanna Schwamb (93), both of Sheridan, WY, teamed up for a labor of love and philanthropy to benefit elders of the Shoulderblade Center on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana.

This was the donation of many contents of a large thrift store: bags and bags of very good, clean and high-end clothing (many with prices tags), blankets, shoes and many other treasures, including youth clothes since many elders are now raising grandchildren. The give-away held for elders in September on the reservation was highly attended and greatly appreciated by the elders said Roberta Bigback, Shoulderblade Center Director.

“It only took a couple of hours for them to clean us out,” she laughed. “Each one went home with sacks and sacks of goodies.”

The background for this event was almost serendipitous. Vanna, an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe has for years dedicated herself to collecting items for the Everything Beautiful Thrift Store, in Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, a labor of love at her own personal expense.

About once a month, Pastor Willis Buzentiz, White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church and also chairman of the non-profit thrift store board, brings a U-Haul truck to Sheridan to collect the very useful treasures which Vanna has amassed, filling up a three-car garage about once a month. In the process Vanna has become well known to thrift store managers in the Sheridan area who well know she will drive a hard deal on behalf of the Northern Cheyenne.

Recently Vanna’s attention has turned to the Elderly Shoulderblade Center after learning that one old residents ha to wash one of his only two pairs of jeans in the bathtub every other day, not having enough for laundry machines or soap.

“They need some help too,” she decided.

Bill Mason, Northern Cheyenne tribal member and Everything Beautiful Thrift Store Board member said, “At our Board meetings, we often thank and praise Vanna for all the things she has donated over the years, amounting to a considerable personal investment on her part. We are very, very thankful of everything she has done and donated to the people. Her name is very well known among our board, but perhaps not the people, as Vanna prefers to stay in the background.”

At any rate, when Vanna learned that the Next To New Thrift Store, a 38 year institution was closing, she descended, hoping for some screaming bargains, such as towels, blankets and men’s’ jeans in good condition, all hard to come by. There she met a kindred spirit, Janet Scott, who had dedicated 38 years to a similar mission, her store benefiting the Sheridan Children’s Center which serves more than 200 kids in Sheridan, providing pre-school and after-school services, especially for the low-income.

“Nobody is ever denied admittance,” she explained. “And if they cannot pay, the parents work one Saturday each month, pulling weeds, washing windows and toys, etc.”


Support Native media!

Read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today: Never count out the elderly ladies

Clara Caufield can be reached at

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

Join the Conversation