by Fientje Allis
One thing is for sure: when you drive the ANE van (otherwise known as Wilhelmina Manyboxes) you get noticed, sometimes in surprising ways.
It started in Nephi. I had grabbed a quick coffee for the road on my way to the reservation to do a backpack delivery for the schools recently. As I climbed into the van and took a quick sip ready to go, I noticed three women standing in front of the van looking, pointing, and discussing something amongst themselves. Finally one of them came up to my window and told me that there was a lot of fluid coming from the van they felt I needed to know about. I figured it was probably water from the air conditioner as it was a hot day, but got out to check just in case. The women proceeded to tell me they had recognized the logo on the van and were concerned for my safe travel.
One of the women introduced herself as the owner of the former weaving shop in Salt Lake City and asked after Linda. She shared fond memories of Linda bringing Elders to her shop and the special time she had with them-now many years ago. Several stories followed. I thanked the women for their concerns and assured them I thought the van was o.k., but that I would make sure I kept an eye on my dials on the dashboard indicators for any sign of trouble. I got back on the road some 30 minutes later.
Once on the reservation it didn’t take long either. Parked at Bashas in Dilkon and later at the swap meet in Leupp people instantly recognized the ANE logo on the van. It was like we had driven into our hometown. We were greeted by: “Are you guys in town?” (meaning: are you here on a food run?) “No”; Or: “my grandma is in the program” or “do you know so and so, she is my grandma?” Since that has been my regular food run area for years I did know some of the Elders mentioned and conversations followed.
To be greeted in that way was very special. It wasn’t that long ago that Linda was spat at when she first started the program. And I feel both proud and humbled that we can go on the reservation and be treated like friends. As I look at the ANE logo I give thanks for her vision and how far the program has come in mending the broken circle.