Monday, August 3, 2015

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes - 8/1/15

by John Aldrich

Saturday it was time to once more pack Rainbow Food Boxes. There's no better sign that food runs are approaching than this semiannual event. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day and in response we had an excellent turnout of volunteers. At 8:00 everyone gathered in the parking lot for an opening circle including a Navajo prayer by Rodger Williams.

Then we moved inside to begin packing the first half of the boxes for the fall runs. This photo shows how things were laid out in the warehouse. The picture was actually taken toward the end of the morning when there were far fewer empty boxes to obstruct the view.

As we move around the room in a clockwise fashion two boxes in each cart are filled with the designated items and then delivered to the taping tables. Some volunteers man the carts and pack the boxes while others hand out food items as the carts go by.

The last stop is the taping area where a stalwart crew lifted the boxes from the carts, taped them closed, and stacked them along the wall arranged by food run area.

We were also graced with royalty. Our Shi Yazhi princess, Delaina Becenti, made the trip from Green River with her mother. They have been very busy this summer representing ANE at a variety of pow wows and events throughout the West.

One of the more specialized jobs at food packing is compacting the cardboard in the dumpster as it builds up. Marci and Cody tackled this task with the enthusiasm of youngsters on a trampoline.

Here are just a few of the other volunteers who came to help.

And as always, our gratitude goes to CJ, our ever-amiable organizer, for making the whole thing fall into place. There is a myriad of details that must be tended to for everything to come off without a hitch. And that's just how it happened.

We will complete the remaining food boxes this coming Saturday, August 8th. If you missed out on the fun last Saturday please join us at 8:00 at the warehouse.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Walk In Beauty Sneaker Delivery - Spring 2015

by Melyssa Holbrook

There are weeks of preparation in getting ready for a sneaker delivery.  About 6 to 8 weeks before the actual deliveries, I get in touch with each of the coordinators at the 17 Navajo Reservation schools that Adopt-A-Native-Elder works with.  I email and call the school coordinators to reconnect after the 5 to 6 month break between sneaker deliveries.  We discuss how the school year or summer break has been and talk of the upcoming sneaker delivery and how many sneakers we are able to bring to that particular school.  Throughout the next 4 weeks or so, the school coordinator works on identifying the students that are in the biggest need of brand new sneakers.  Once I receive that list …..  I go shopping!

It’s not as easy as it may seem.  Each spring and fall, we deliver 300 to 400 pairs of sneakers.  Each pair is bought with a particular child in mind.  The list that I receive from the school coordinators tells me the child's name, sneaker size, and color preference.  I go to some stores because they offer a variety of half sizes, others I know will be good for finding wide sizes, both of which are difficult to find.  It is not a one stop shopping experience!  It is many hours and many days, bordering on weeks, of sneaker shopping.

I have a room that I call “My Shoe Room”.

This is where I organize, sort and store all the sneakers and socks that are purchased.  All of the sneakers get put into different bins.  One side of the room is for girl sneakers.  One side of the room is for boy sneakers.  Each and every half size gets its own bin, starting from toddler size 8, all the way up to Mens and Womens size 13.  After the shopping and sorting, I go through each of the schools order forms, and start picking through the bins to find a pair that will be perfect for each child.  Each pair of sneakers then gets a brand new pair of socks put inside, and a tag gets put on each pair that states the childs’ name, grade, and sneaker size.  Once each school order is complete, they get put into a large tote bag, and that bag gets a tag that reads the name of the school that will be this bag of sneaker’s final destination.

Once I have all of the school orders organized into tote bags, I load them all into my truck.  I put the school that I will deliver to last, in first, and continue in backwards order from there.  Until the last bag that is put into the truck is the first school I will deliver to.  Then I also fill bags with extra sneakers (these are for when the sneaker size requested isn’t really the perfect size for the child, especially since every brand of sneaker doesn’t measure sizes the same).  I bring 2 or 3 pairs of every size (including half and wide sizes) in both boys and girls.  This adds up to an extra 140 pair of sneakers, on top of the 300 to 400 pair that are tagged with the name of a child.  That’s a lot of sneakers to squeeze into one F-350 Super Duty!

Its all worth it!

Day 1 (Monday):  Bluff Elementary.  Bluff is in Utah.  A town of 250 people.  Bluff is one of the southern-most towns in the State of Utah.

Day 2 (Tuesday ):  Aneth and Monument Valley.  Aneth Community School is a new school to our program this year.   The town of Aneth is within the Navajo nation, has a population of about 600 people, and the school serves approximately 160 students.  Monument Valley Elementary School is located just outside of the Park, and has amazing and very large Navajo Rugs on display, just inside the lobby area.

Day 3 (Wednesday):  Rock Point and Tsaile.  Rock Point Community School is another new school to our program.  Rock Point is located just over the border of Utah, in Northern Arizona.  Rock Point is named for the point where Chinle Creek enters an area of high sandstone cliffs.  Tsaile, Arizona has a population of 1200 and is home to the main campus of the Dine College.

Day 4 (Thursday):  Mesa View and Many Farms.  Mesa View Elementary is one of 3 elementary schools within the town of Chinle.  Chinle is the gateway to Canyon de Chelly.  Many Farms Public School is one of the larger schools that Walk In Beauty delivers to, with a population of 425 students in grades K thru 8th.

Day 5 (Friday):  Pinon and Black Mesa.  Pinon Elementary is the largest school that we provide sneakers for.  This school has a population of 560 students in grades  Pre-K thru the 5th grade.  Black Mesa Community  is one of the most remote schools, which requires travel over miles of dirt road to reach.  It is also the smallest school, with 65 students in grades K thru 8th
After the first 5 days of sneaker deliveries …  it is finally the weekend!!!!!!  We are beat …exhausted … drained, but also full of gratitude and appreciation from the children.   We hope to rejuvenate with some rest and relaxation, before we start all over again in 2 days.

We were lucky enough to be offered a Hogan to stay in, in the area of the Hard Rock Chapter of Arizona.  That wasn’t the only amazing thing that came our way … we were fortunate to be able to watch and participate in sheering some sheep (well, ok … one sheep ….ummmm … maybe it was just the shoulder of one sheep, but still …. :), it was a sheep and we sheered it!)  We also witnessed twin goats being born!  So amazing!!!!

Day 6 (Monday):  Rocky Ridge and Cottonwood.  Rocky Ridge Boarding School is located near the Hopi Partition Area.  Cottonwood Day School is located in the heart of the Navajo Reservation, about 30 miles west of Chinle.

Day 7 (Tuesday):  Seba Dalkai and Dilcon.  Seba Dalkai is the second smallest school that we serve, with 105 students in grades K thru 9th grade.  Dilcon Community School can be found in the southern area of the Navajo Nation, not far from Winslow.  Dilcon is said to mean “smooth black surface” or “bare rock”.  Dilcon is also known for being the Native American community that challenged and defeated a company claiming to want to build a recycling plant but actually wanting to build a toxic waste dump.  The environmental movement in Dilkon, Arizona was featured in the People of Color Environmental Leadership Conference Resource Tape, 15 minutes long, the tape features five different communities of color and their struggle with environmental injustices.

Final Day 8 (Wednesday):  Leupp and Little Singer.  Leupp Boarding School is not far from Interstate 40, in Arizona, in the southwest corner of the Navajo Nation.  Leupp is one of 5 Navajo areas that existed before the year 1936.  Little Singer Elementary school may one of the cutest and quaintest schools on the entire Navajo Reservation (That might be just our opinion, but lets just pretend it’s a fact!).  The school consists of 7 geodesic dome buildings that each house classrooms, and a giant dome that is the gymnasium.  There are 120 students here.  So adorable!

In total, we delivered 471 pair of brand new socks and sneakers to 15 elementary schools!  This was a record breaking amount in the history of the Walk In Beauty Program.  471 pairs is the largest amount of sneakers ever delivered and 15 schools is also the highest number of schools delivered to in one season.  It is an amazing accomplishment!  It feels great to do great!!!!

The Spring 2015 Walk In Beauty delivery was a major success!  13 days on the road.  1670 miles traveled.

We can't wait to do it again in September!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weaving Ceremonial Blankets - Rug Show Theme For 2015

by Linda Myers

In the Navajo culture Pendleton blankets are used in many ceremonies and are presented as special gifts to honor dignitaries and leaders as well as birthdays and special occasions.

The traditional Elders wear these blankets during ceremonies, and many of the Pendleton blanket designs come from the patterns found in Navajo rugs.

Many of the symbols that are used in Pendleton blankets come from the different symbols of many tribes. Each tribe has a blanket that carries their own sacred symbols - mountains, birds, baskets, animals, and totems.

This year's rug show will feature Navajo rugs that the Elders have woven from Pendleton blanket designs. Some of the Elders chose to weave the pattern of the blanket that they wear during ceremonies. Others have chosen some of the newer designs.

We have received many beautiful rugs featuring their choice of designs and symbols which they have woven into their creations.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes 3/7/15

by John Aldrich

When it's time to begin packing the Rainbow Food Boxes, we know that the spring food runs can't be far off. Saturday was the first of two Saturdays where this task will be completed. After delivery of the food several weeks ago there was still much work to be done to prepare the warehouse for food packing. There were giveaway projects to complete as well as rearranging things in the warehouse. On top of that, when volunteers arrived on Saturday they found that C.J. had engineered a new box loading procedure. The routine we have been used to for many years had changed. Would we be up to the challenge of learning a new way of doing things?

With an outstanding turnout of volunteers, both old and new, we found that old volunteers can indeed learn new tricks - quickly and easily.

The morning began with a Navajo prayer and a few instructions:


The above time-lapse video shows how it all worked as 10 minutes of warehouse activity is compressed into 12 seconds.

Our hero who made all this happen is C.J. Robb, assistant director of ANE. He spent countless hours preparing the warehouse for the day as well as designing the logistics. And it all worked beautifully. Near the end of the morning he paused next to the boxes that had been packed for the Many Farms and Tsaile food runs.

Given that "many hands make light work", we finished about an hour earlier than projected. This photo shows most of the group that provided all those hands.

Here is a collection of pictures taken throughout the morning:

If it looks like people are having fun, it's because they were. Come and be part of the fun as we complete the project of packing all the Rainbow Food Boxes next Saturday morning starting at 8:00 a.m. at the warehouse.

For more details visit the Volunteers Activities Page of our web site.