While the South Dakota Child Identification Program has had over 25,000 South Dakota children go through our program since its inception, this past year with the COVID pandemic, we were forced to suspend the program. We have been in close contact with our partners at the South Dakota Academy of Physicians Assistants and have followed their direction and protocols throughout the pandemic. We are confident, given the current climate, that we will be able to resume scheduling SD Child ID events this fall as life returns to normal.
As we start to gear up for the fall schedule of our program, please understand the need for our program is more important than ever; the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children say that in 2020 they received more than 17,000 reports of possible child sex trafficking, with those reports coming from all 50 states. They also reported 26,500 cases of children reported missing in 2020 as well. We hope that each lodge will add a SD Child ID event to their activities plan for the upcoming Masonic year. It is our hope that we are able to keep kids in every South Dakota community safe through our program.
We would like to thank our partners in the South Dakota Child Identification Program, including the South Dakota Attorney General, the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association, the South Dakota Dental Association, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the South Dakota Academy of Physicians Assistants. We are also grateful to Kevin Karley, Director of the 911 Center in Rapid City for his assistance by attending the Nation Center’s in-depth training program and providing that expertise to us. We, as Masons, would not have the success with this program without the dedication of these other wonderful organizations.
We were able to give out two very well-deserved SD Child ID awards this spring.
On April 7th, RWB Jeff VanCuren, PGM Harold Ireland, and SD Chip committee members Mike Rodman, Jack Welker and Herb Cook presented Joan Knutson, former Miss South Dakota Job’s Daughter her award of recognition at the Olive Branch Lodge #47. Joan has been a long-time volunteer at many SD Child Id events, coordinated Job’s Daughters volunteers, spearheaded Job’s Daughter’s fundraisers for the SD Child Id program and also organized and managed two SD Child ID events.
On May 7th, SD Chip committee members Mike Rodman and Jack Welker presented Lt. Col. (Ret.) Marc Miller of the Douglas High School Jr. ROTC his award of recognition in Rapid City in front of the entire Douglas high school Jr. ROTC class. Col. Miller has organized Jr, ROTC volunteers for the SD Chip ID program since its inception. The Douglas Jr. ROTC volunteers have logged more volunteer hours than any other organization helping with our program.
We thank the Masons of South Dakota for their ongoing support of this important program and look forward to working with each of you in the future to keep South Dakota kids safe.
Mike Rodman, PGM
South Dakota Child Identification Program Chairman