Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food Run Report - Teesto 5/10/12

by John Aldrich

Teesto is the last food run in the spring sequence. It's a bitter sweet experience - - - those who have been on the road for over three weeks are exhausted and ready to return home, but yet it's another food run and each is a unique, rewarding, and wonderful occasion. As we headed down the road to Anita Jackson's homeland, we were greeted by this scarecrow.

Anita is a regular at the rug show as well as a gracious hostess for the food run. She has a cute sense of humor which is indicated by this scarecrow. Here is Anita beside her loom where she has just started one of her signature snow flake rugs (come to the rug show and you might be able to acquire it).

This is also the last stop for Howard and Beverly Benally who drove the big Penske truck loaded with boxes and gifts from the warehouse in Salt Lake for the last week of food runs.

Howard must use vacation time to come on the food runs but does so because of his generosity and love for the Elders. On their return trip they made a stop in Gallup to pick up a load of special pickles for the Native American Trading Post in Salt Lake where Beverly works.

The box crew made short work of setting up the Rainbow Circle.

While waiting for the program to start, Dennis Lewis appears to be giving Cindy Devers some advice.

Rez Vet, aka Dr. Adrienne Ruby, was a colorful visitor at the food run. She sponsors Frances Bahe and actually lives nearby on the Hopi reservation in a home with no power or running water. She maintains a veterinary practice that covers much of the western portion of the reservation.

Seeing grandchildren interacting with their Elders is always a delight.

During the giveaways, Dan Villa presents a package of cornmeal to his Elder, Lena Begay, who was the oldest Elder at the food run.

The food at the Teesto run is always a treat thanks to the work of Anita's family. This spring they cooked several turkeys in deep fryers, and members of her family later helped to serve the meal.

The last photo shows the wind kicking up a bit of dust just before the conclusion of the food run. It seemed to be a reminder that although we were lucky to have no major windy days during the food runs this spring, it's always a force that can surface at any time.

In the end, we had a very successful spring food run season, delivering our food and gifts to eleven locations. In return all the volunteers attending these runs felt the blessings of being in the presence of the Elders once more.

To see more of what's happening at ANE, visit us on FaceBook.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Walk In Beauty - Spring 2012

by Cindy Cook and Ray Coleman

(Note: Cindy and Ray head the Walk In Beauty Program, delivering much-needed shoes to school children across the reservation. For more information visit the Walk In Beauty page of our web site.)

Look how we’ve grown!
Walk In Beauty celebrated 5 years of service this spring.  Five years ago, 10 pairs of shoes were delivered to 1 school.  This spring, nearly 400 pairs were delivered to 13 schools across the Navajo reservation.

The spring delivery started where it all began, 5 years ago, at Monument Valley Elementary (formally Mexican Hat Elementary).  After signing in at the office, we were escorted to the faculty room to set up.
There we set the shoes out in anticipation of the children’s arrival.
Then the children began filtering in to try on their new shoes.
At each of the 13 schools, the scene was similar.  We have developed close relationships with our school coordinators and were greeted with hugs and smiles.  In honor of the program’s 5th year, we gave each of them a certificate of appreciation and a lapel pin with the program’s red tennis shoe logo.
As full as the schools are, our coordinators always find a space for us to use.  We’ve tried shoes on children in classrooms, offices, libraries, cafeterias, storage areas and even hogans.

When the children are trying on their new shoes they laugh, whisper, giggle, tease and make comments that warm our hearts.

When he saw his new shoes this boy said, “I’m taking off these girl shoes.  Today is my lucky day!
“My new socks smell sooooo fresh!
“It feels like a cushion.”
“These fit!”
“Do these look good on me?”
“Hey, these shoes are stylish!”

Questions about Walk In Beauty?  E-mail us at:
Click here to see more photos.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Food Run Report - Big Mountain 5/9/12

by John Aldrich

It always feels good to return to Big Mountain, the site of the original food runs for ANE and by far the largest of our events. Since it is an outdoor run we are at the mercy of the elements, but they cooperated nicely this year. We had sun initially and then threatening clouds, but no rain or wind until we were on our way back to Winslow.

The Penske truck loaded with all the boxes left Winslow early, and, thanks to a number of local Navajos at Big Mountain, the truck had been unloaded by the time the rest of us arrived. The crew got right to work setting up the Rainbow Circle. The first job is setting out the rope that defines the arc of the circle and has markers where each of the boxes should be placed. Harry Begay does this with a practiced eye.

The result of this, plus a bit of lifting and carrying, is a neat presentation of food boxes, gift boxes, and produce.

It's a little hard to see here, but there are over 80 sets in the arc. The layout also anticipates the loading process at the end of the food run when Elders can easily drive their vehicles by to receive their things.

Another truck to be unloaded is the pickup belonging to Devoice and Marilyn Medford who drove from North Carolina with a large number of giveaways for the Elders.

At the ceremony  to initiate this food run, Devoice was honored with an ANE Pendelton blanket. She brought the blanket to Big Mountain so we could take a photograph on the Land.

Devoice and Marilyn spent months preparing for the food run. They knitted and crocheted, held fundraisers, solicited help from friends and fellow church members, and then drove for three days across the country to bring it all to the Elders.

Here is the tarp committee headed by Judy Keane. Since this food run is so big, the tarp is correspondingly large, and it was hard work for these ladies to get everything out and neatly arranged before the program began.

Here is a view once things are pretty much ready to go. We see the giveaway table in the foreground and a portion of the circle of Elders in the background. A corner of the tarp can be seen on the right.

While they await the start of the program, Grace Smith Yellowhammer, co-founder of ANE, visits with May Shay, one of the original Elders in the Big Mountain food run.

There were a number of quilts given away at this food run. Sam and Rena Yazzie were the happy recipients of one of them.

Preparing the meal for the hundreds in attendance at the gathering was a big job. Here are three of the four Robertson sisters who help host the food run and do much of the cooking. Rena, Ella, and Alice are joined by Sharon Prescott who headed the food committee of volunteers who also helped with this huge project.

The fourth Robertson sister, Mary, serves as translator and here is seen here sharing a moment with Wendy Sanborn.

One of the food options was mutton stew with hominy.

Given the number of Elders at this food run, it's no surprise that there is a large number of rugs and lots of jewelry available for volunteers to purchase at the end of the program. Louise Altsisi sets out her wares for display.

Smiles are abundant when Elders and their sponsors get to meet at a food run. Louise Helen Goh and Loretta Melvin are pleased to have some time together.

And smiles were found on the children's faces as well when they received tooth brushes and tooth paste from New York volunteer John del Campo.

To see more of what's happening at ANE, visit us on FaceBook.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A School Program At The Warehouse

by April Wilsey

On May 1, 2012, while the Many Farms, Tsaile, and Pinon food runs were taking place, the third grade classes from Wasatch Peak Academy in North Salt Lake joined our office manager, Joyce Trapman, and several volunteers for a presentation about what preparations are necessary to have the food runs, as well as what happens on a food run.

The students brought in many canned goods and other items for us to take to the Elders.  Since the Big Mountain, Teesto, and Sanders food runs hadn’t taken place yet, the 48 third graders, 2 teachers and 8 parents were able to see all of the boxes that were still in the warehouse and going out to the Navajo locations on Friday.
April Wilsey welcomed the students and adults to the warehouse and told them how the program started 24 years ago when Linda Myers took her first load of canned goods to Big Mountain.  She also shared some hand woven rugs and Navajo jewelry.  This was followed up with Joyce talking about the many volunteers and Elder sponsors that help from around the world.  She had also put up an enlarged map of the Navajo Reservation and marked the areas where we take the food on the food runs.

Art Sleeper talked about how the food is boxed at the warehouse and then taken by volunteers to the Navajo food run locations, and Sandy Sleeper showed pictures of Elders at the food runs.  These pictures included shots of the land and the food boxes in the Rainbow arc.

Beverly Benally explained the meaning of the juniper berry necklaces and how they offer protection for people wearing them.  Then we passed out juniper berry necklaces, as giveaways, to all of the students and adults.  Of course, they put them on immediately and shared them with their friends.

After the presentation, we broke up the students into 3 groups.  The groups rotated to these activities:

The students made cards for the Elders to be sent with their donations.
Beverly showed the students some raw wool and how to spin it.  She also shared her mother’s double weave rug.
Art was able to show the students how to weave and then had them do some weaving on the double- sided loom.
Bobbi Lees read Navajo stories to the students and shared her experiences on the food runs, as well as played Rodger Williams’ Navajo Language CD where the students were able to count to ten in Navajo.
We, at ANE, were very happy to have Wasatch Peak Academy join us, and want to thank them for all that they did in gathering donations for the Elders.

(Note: April is head of the Amasani program at ANE. Learn more about what ANE has to offer for children.)


Monday, May 14, 2012

Food Run Report - Sanders 5/8/12

by John Aldrich

Sanders is the first food run in the last sequence for the spring season. It's one of the smaller runs and serves a group of Elders who were relocated from their traditional homelands as a result of the Hopi-Navajo land dispute. This brings a touch of sadness to the occasion, but these families seem to be making the best of it.

As we prepare to leave the motel in Winslow, we line up to have our vehicles smudged for a safe journey.

It's a long drive from Winslow to Sanders, but it's mostly freeway. Once there, we paused for the group picture before moving on to our assigned tasks.

There are 43 volunteers in this group and most are veterans of many prior food runs. In fact, there were only two new people on this run. The number was more than enough for Sanders, but everyone was needed later when we got to Big Mountain and then Teesto.

As the box crew got to work, new volunteer Lance Morris, on the right, helped Steve McGeeney move Rainbow Boxes through the sand on a dolly.

After the boxes are out on the line, the Blue Bird flour comes next. Again we see Lance in the thick of things. He was so eager to help that Ed Keane later awarded him the Energizer Bunny Award for the food run.

And here's a shot of the whole box crew plus Beverly Benally who happened to be in the vicinity.

At each Sanders run there is a fire going with food and coffee on the grate. It's a touch of hospitality from the White family who host the food run.

The medical committee, under Kate Stephens, assesses the special needs of the Elders on each food run. This week the committee consists of nurse Kathy Wilde and "runner" Mary Weinzirl in addition to Kate.

This shot provides a glimpse of what it's like inside the shade house where the food run program is conducted. A portion of the volunteers lines the wall in front of the giveaways and the first row of Elders who are in wheelchairs.

During the program, Ella White, our coordinator at Sanders, and her husband Jack were honored with newly designed ANE T-shirts.

When it came time for the meal, everyone was relieved to move outside. It was such a nice day that it seemed only logical to set up the tables in the open air.

And after the meal Elders brought out their rugs and jewelry in hopes of a sale to help support themselves through the coming months.

In the end, a happy Mary Badonie shakes hands with the volunteer who has just loaded her truck before she heads home.

To see more of what's happening at ANE, visit us on FaceBook.