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Grand opening at Tree of Life

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Al Roll, misssional impact coach, and Rev. Rebecca Trefz, director of ministries and Southeast District Superintendent

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The Tree of Life Boutique where the "price is right," Shoppers spin the wheel for a discount during the grand opening. Photos by Al Roll and Rebecca Trefz.

"Come on down. The price is right at the Tree of Life Boutique!" These were the staff's words at Tree of Life during the grand opening. As people entered the store, they registered for one of three 30-second shopping sprees with three different-sized carts. View one of the shopping sprees.

People also enjoyed a meal of pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and barbequed beans. It was a chance to see the progress on the new building that houses the Tree of Life Boutique and the Warm Welcome, where everyone is invited to "come on down" a phrase coined by Bob Barker, a native son of Mission, South Dakota.

Tree of Life Ministry is located on the Rosebud Reservation in Mission, South Dakota. The Rosebud Reservation has an 80% unemployment rate. The winters are cold, the summers are hot, and the economy is unforgiving, but the love of Jesus is moving throughout the neighborhood. The ministries of Tree of Life include the Warm Welcome, a free hot meal program, Tree of Life Boutique, a thrift store offering clothing and other household items, a food pantry, and a construction ministry for residential repairs.

The Indigenous botanical gardens are a new ministry that has taken root in the past three years. The vision is to have food at the Warm Welcome from the gardens at Tree of Life.

"We have a new soup kitchen. There is a food shortage and distribution problem," said Linda Garriott, director at Tree of Life. "We have grown lots of things in the past. We want to teach people to sustain themselves. To grow food on God's land."

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Dennis Unkenholz, right, chairperson for the Tree of Life board looks over the outdoor garden.

The outdoor garden is doing well but is dependent on the weather. The hope is to build an underground greenhouse to harvest all year round.

Steve Meister, from Grace United Methodist Church in Joliet, Illinois, is a new board member at Tree of Life. He has been coming with a Volunteers in Mission (VIM) team since 2002. Steve has helped to build many of the buildings that are part of the Tree of Life Ministry. The timing of the grand opening allowed Steve to be in attendance. 

Steve and other board members are anxious to get the kitchen up and running in the new building. A significant need is to hire a certified electrician and plumber to finish the soup kitchen. So far, they have been unable to find anyone willing to travel to Mission to do the work.  

As a director, Linda Garriot is proud of the continued ministry at Tree of Life. The ministry has met the needs of many people through the pandemic and a fire that demolished the kitchen in May 2020. The grand opening day was a true celebration for the entire community.

"Tree of Life is an ever presence of who God is. We work to meet the needs of the people and sustain them. We are just tapping into God's goodness," said Linda. "The Lakota Nation is alive and well because of the prayers and the call of God to so many. God has called different individuals to place their blessings at the Tree of Life here on the Rosebud Reservation."

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The new kitchen that is waiting for an electrician and plumber.

Garriot shares that the Thrift Store is like no other. Everything is donated. It is life-changing for many. Some people always stay on the reservation. They have limited means of tranrsportation. The Thrift Store allows people to come and get the things they need locally,  at one-half the price they would find at a Goodwill store.

"We are blessed to be able to offer quality products to our community," she said.

Linda shares three things for you can do to be  in ministry at Tree of Life. "Pray for us and our ministry. Prayer helps us all connect and believe in God's call for the people. Bless us with your gifts. We need financial gifts and donations of quality items. Come here and work. We are a very small team. We need you. We are tired and exhausted. You are welcome here."


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