Monday, January 24, 2011

Upcoming Special Events

by John Aldrich

Two special events will take place at the ANE warehouse within the next several weeks, and all are invited to attend.

The first is the annual Winter Stories Night on January 30th. This event, organized by Rodger Williams, has been a popular occasion in recent years and honors the Navajo tradition of sharing stories among family and friends during the winter season.

Prior to last year's event, Rodger wrote a blog about the importance of these stories in Navajo culture.

This year Winter Stories Night will take place at the warehouse on January 30th at 5:00 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

The second event will be a special evening devoted to volunteers sharing stories about food run experiences.

The event flyer explains the details, but if you have additional questions, feel free to call Linda or call the warehouse at 801-474-0535.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Linda's Vision

by Linda Myers

(note: Linda wrote this piece for the recent ANE newsletter. As we start a new year it serves as a reminder of the power of Linda's vision and the strength of her purpose to help the Elders.)

Twenty-five years ago my life changed after watching a documentary called Broken Rainbow and listening to a young Navajo woman speak about the plight of her people. I didn't know what to do - but I knew I had to do something.

When I traveled to the land with Grace Smith Yellowhammer, she said something to me that I still remember. "The people are so despondent and helpless. They're giving up caring. They need someone to care about them, even a hairbrush or a jacket, something that would make them feel good about themselves." As I looked at the condition of their homes and the simple lives, I knew I had a voice and somehow I would find a way to share with others about their simple needs.

As I look back, I think of so many people who offered help to me. When I would get home from work at night I would sort through donations and pack food in any boxes I could find. We have come a long way since those days, and even though times are challenging for us now, they haven't changed very much on the land for the Elders over the last twenty-five years.

Many of the original Elders twenty-five years ago relocated and were given new homes. Many more were displaced and left the homes and returned back to their homelands.

Poverty on the reservation is hard to rise out of - education is the greatest way out and presents many challenges to students because of lack of funds and support. My goal with the old ones is still the same - to help them live out their lives in their traditional ways.

Food is the greatest gift I know -firewood has helped relieve their greatest worry of freezing to death. Drinking water in many areas is only safe by buying bottled water. The Elders have taught me a lot about survival. To sell their rugs for them is to touch each of them daily, to feel their hands in the rugs, to know even in their old age they will weave to eat and feed their families. They have shown me how giving and generous they are with so little.

Their strength has kept me going many times when I am tired and overwhelmed. I have experienced a different kind of love not in words but in the gentle touch of holding their hands and feeling their prayers. They have blessed me and all the volunteers who help them.

With five hundred Elders we assist now, it isn't often I visit each of their homes. We send letters to them from the program letting them know we are thinking of them and, through donations, include Food Certificates or Firewood Checks, and boxes of yarn to weave their rugs with.

When I visit their homes, I often see the letters taped to the wall that show the pictures of the volunteers or the families that sponsor them. I look forward to the New Year and to the blessings it will bring. We have struggled to keep many things going as simply as we can, to help the money donate to go to the Elders directly.

I have so much gratitude for all the volunteers and supporters who come into my life daily with working hands to give their time, such a precious gift, and to all of you who adopt Elders  and generously give to help them.

We send you our Heartfelt Blessings.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Bond

by John Aldrich

A close bond is created when a sponsor adopts an Elder. Heartfelt feelings flow in both directions. The extent to which an Elder is able to express those feelings is frequently limited by their ability to communicate. As many Elders do not speak or write English they find themselves dependent on other family members, often grandchildren, to create those words for them. Some Elders are more fortunate than others in having someone willing to take on this task.

On the March 2009 food run to Navajo Mountain the stars crossed for Emma Seaton, an Elder newly enrolled in the Program, and Gina Zimmerer, a volunteer on her first food run. After adopting Emma, Gina returned to Navajo Mountain in August where the following picture was taken.

Gina had made a quilt to present to Emma. Here are their hands resting on it. A bond was created.

During the recent holiday season, Gina was thrilled and surprised to receive a gift from Emma - - - a hand woven rug.

Along with the rug was  the following note created on Emma's behalf  by her granddaughter.

This exchange embodies the spirit of the Program!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Spring Food Run Dates Posted

Following in the same general time frames as in recent years, the dates for the spring food runs are as follows:
  • March 29-31: Oljato-Navajo Mountain food run.
  • April 26-29: Dilkon-Leupp-Birdsprings food run.
  • May 3-7: Many Farms-Tsaile-Pinon food run.
  • May 8-12: Sanders-Big Mountain-Teesto food run.
For further information and specifics about these food runs please see the pertinent section of the Volunteer Activities Page of our web site.