Kenneth Miller bought his 13-year-old grandson Blake new shoes when school was dismissed for the summer. By the time school started back in August, they were already too small. Outfitting a growing boy can get expensive for the Stilwell, Oklahoma, retiree, but he has help through the Cherokee Nation school clothing voucher.
“As much as we have to spend on clothes, it’s a big help,” said Miller, a Cherokee Nation citizen. “The tribe does a lot for our people, and they do great things for the schools.”
Under the program, families receive a $100 gift card for clothes for each eligible child. Qualified students must be in kindergarten through 12th grade, live in the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation, and meet family income guidelines.
Providing for Blake means the world to Miller. Retired after 34 years at Whirlpool, he and his late wife, Betty, raised Blake like a son from the time he was an infant. Miller most enjoyed playing sports with Blake, but a severe heart attack three years ago left him unable to play as they used to. Still, Miller cares for Blake on his own.
“I never thought I could do it,” Miller said. “When I went to the hospital last, they thought I was dying, but somebody had different ideas. I still have a purpose here, and Blake is that purpose.”
The Cherokee Nation is helping Miller fulfill that purpose, which makes Blake happy as well.
Cherokee Nation Entertainment reinvests 35 percent of its gaming profits annually into services and programs for Cherokee Nation citizens. In 2017, that investment was $49.4 million plus an additional $11 million for construction of medical facilities for Cherokees.