Monday, May 6, 2013

Food Run Report - Birdsprings 4/26/13

by John Aldrich

Our final food run of the week took us to Birdsprings. Since we have been routinely using the chapter house rather than Sadie Curley's homeland for the food runs, we have been able to expand the number of Elders that we serve here. We now have 38 in the Program at this location, up from the low 20's before.

Although we weren't transporting food boxes, we still found ourselves short of hauling capacity not long before the food run was to start. This was because of the relatively small number of volunteers, many of whom were from out of state and weren't able to bring things from the warehouse. Beverly Benally was one who stepped up, and with her 3/4 ton pickup she helped greatly to see that there were adequate resources.

During the unloading of vehicles after our arrival, C.J. demonstrates his virtuosity with loaded dollies.

As the start of the program neared, Linda found herself without her expected interpreter. Fortunately, Alice Robertson Running Hawk was there and agreed to fill in. She was a little apprehensive at first but did a fine job and did it with her typical happy countenance.

During introductions, our three Dutch volunteers offered a greeting in their native language, one that seems as equally unintelligible as Navajo.

Oren Shephard was one of the volunteers on his first food run. Although he's 80, you would never guess it from his boundless energy and outgoing personality. As part of his enthusiasm he ended up adopting two Elders at Birdsprings - Betty Yazzie,

and Harold Wagner.

Sadie Curley, who hosted the food run at her homeland until the past two years, received a gift basket.

Sadie's family is always a big help in preparing for the food runs, but her daughter Toni, in particular, devotes an enormous amount of time and energy. Toni lives in Santa Fe but travels to Birdsprings to help. Her special touch is seen primarily in the delicious food that is always served at this food run.

Toni also received a gift basket for her efforts.

The reason Toni isn't using her hands in this photo is because they have been busy with food preparation. In addition to the regular meal served to everyone (delicious in its own right) Toni makes a special treat for the volunteers. This time is was spring rolls.

There was lots of prep work before the final product could be assembled.

During the giveaways, Betty Ann Nez donated this beautiful storm pattern rug.

And during the Program giveaways, Jaki Helgeson from Winconsis, passes out these beautifully assembled gifts.

Although it's unusual to see a traditional Elder wearing her hair down, that's the style for Gertrude Hijoe. It's silver color and flowing texture is striking against her burgundy top.

When it's time to serve the meal to the Elders, volunteers line up to have styrofoam food containers filled for delivery to the tables.

After the meal there's time for shopping. Pam Berg admires this beautiful necklace at Lillie Curley's table.

And then, C.J. bids farewell to Lillie until the next visit in September.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Food Run Report - Leupp 4/25/13

by John Aldrich

We had beautiful weather for the Dilkon food run and the following day started out equally clement. We had a smooth ride to Leupp, about 35 miles from Winslow, and again unloaded our vehicles in the parking lot next to the Senior Center.

Fientje Allis along with her cousin Tineke Pols from Holland and husband Piet demonstrate the carrying capacity of a Toyota Rav4. It seems rather impressive to me.

There is generally a fair amount of time after our arrival before the formal proceedings of the food run begin. During this time Linda has an opportunity to visit with the Elders and assess how they are doing. With the interpretive assistance of Mary Begay she chats with Ellen Curley.

During this period there is also time for Elders to visit with one another. Victoria Begay and Mary Cody may not have seen each other since the previous food run last September.

During this time Mary Klismith, a volunteer on her first food run, sorts all of the Rainbow Food Certificates into alphabetical order.

After the display of Program giveaways is set up we see the impressive stack of canned sardines which were a big hit with the Elders. This giveaway was arranged by ANE volunteer Cindy Devers of San Diego who works for a fish packing company.

I'm always fascinated by the beautifully creative ways that traditional Navajo women wear their hair. Flora Smith's hair bun with decoration was discretely veiled by her scarf.

It's always heart warming to see volunteers who sponsor Elders have a chance to visit during food runs. Shirley Upchurch regularly travels from Georgia to see her Elders, Alice and Austin Tso.

Pam Berg came from Wisconsin to see Delores McCabe whom she hadn't seen for several years.

Lola Bahe is an institution at Leupp where she supervises the Senior Center and also serves as our food run coordinator. She accomplishes these functions with a combination of organizational skill, humility, and good humor. She's clearly loved by everyone, both Bilagaana and Dine'. Linda presented her with a gift basket.

And then Al and Mary Anne Sanborn presented her with an ANE Pendleton blanket.

When it came time for Elders to present giveaways there was an outpouring of gifts. Betty Kelly honors Tineke and Piet Pols with these pillows.

Tineke and Piet are from Holland and spent two months in Kanab. This extended stay allowed them to attend two food runs - they had previously been to Oljato and Navajo Mountain.

Here is Betty again along with Flora Smith with additional giveaways for the Program and individual volunteers.

Later, Lola teamed up with her husband, Dean, to sing a Navajo rendition of Amazing Grace. It was very moving for everyone.

During the Program giveaways each of the weavers has a chance to choose a bundle of yarn in the colors of their choice.

One of our main goals is to encourage those Elders who weave to continue to do so as much as possible. This encourages one of their traditional means of self-support.

At the end of the program, Woody Smith rose to speak of his gratitude to the Program and for what it has done for the Elders. He also praised the volunteers for having a spirit much different than most Bilagaanas that the Navajo encounter.

Who would believe that someone could look this good in an outfit made from flour sacks. Sheila McKinney shows it's possible.

As the food run program was nearing an end, some ominous clouds appeared that seemed to threaten us with rain. Although it never happened, we were reminded never to take weather on the reservation for granted.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Food Run Report - Dilkon 4/24/13

by John Aldrich

Last week we were part of the set of food runs that went to Dilkon, Leupp, and Birdsprings. These were the first food runs where there were no Rainbow Food Boxes. Four locations have elected to receive a Rainbow Food Certificate of comparable value in lieu of the boxes. The other food run which won't receive boxes is Pinon. The $100 food certificate can be used at Basha's grocery stores and allows the Elder to make a choice of what they would like to purchase.

Although the absence of food boxes made the logistics much simpler, there were still many things that needed to be transported to each food run site. Thus, volunteers still needed to fill their vehicles with a variety of boxes containing Program giveaways, gift boxes for the Elders, and home care products. The new approach did allow us to forgo the cost of a rental truck, however.

We met in Winslow, as usual, and again were at the same motel, but it's now a Rodeway Inn rather than a Super 8. On the first evening we gathered at the Winslow visitor center for the ceremony that begins each food run.

Boyd Mitchell is smudging each volunteer as they enter the building to form the circle for the ceremony. The visitor center provides a nice venue for this event, and the staff are very obliging to keep the building open for us.

During the ceremony, Boyd was honored with an ANE limited edition Pendleton blanket. This honor was featured in our previous blog.

The next morning, after our breakfast meeting and orientation, we were off to Dilkon, roughly 40 miles away on the reservation. Our food run again used the local Mormon meeting house. It's the only building large enough to hold our event, and even then, it's a tight squeeze.

There were 25 volunteers on this food run which seemed like just the right number to get the job done but not overcrowd the space.

You'll see that our numbers are swelled by the three Mormon missionaries who were assigned to Dilkon.

These young men were gracious hosts as well as good sports when they were called upon to participate in some of our "games". They also pitched in to help move and load boxes.

As the Elders arrived, they were met by our "greeting committee" consisting of Virginia Aldrich and Tineke Pols. Here is Eva Billy on her arrival.

One of the major setup jobs is organizing all of the Program giveaways. Wendy Sanborn heads the group of ladies who accomplished this task and created a beautiful and colorful display for the front of the room.

The Program giveaways are assembled in the ANE warehouse in Salt Lake by a large group of volunteers. Wendy always acknowledges this "unseen" group who make such a difference.

After the food run program got underway, each Elder received their Rainbow Food Certificate.

And the, C.J. Rob explained that even though there were no food boxes to pick up, each Elders would still be receiving gift boxes and some would also have home care products.

This is what the circle of boxes looked like outside.

Those readers who have been on food runs and are used to seeing a much larger assortment of boxes and produce will be struck by the difference.

Lauria Bell-Huges (right in the photo) has been associated with ANE for many years but hadn't been on a food run for some time. She was thrilled to see her Elder, Lillie Paddock, again.

Her friend Linda Passarelli from Tucson (left) was making her first food run. They were able to take Lillie home after the food run.

The missionaries got into the act again when it was time for the Happy Birthday - Crackerjacks event. We sing happy birthday to all the Elders and then award a box of Crackerjacks to the oldest.

 One of the oldest is Madeline Begay who always has a cheerful smile for everyone.

Handing out Program giveaways provided an opportunity for several of our first-time volunteers to interact with the Elders. Here Bruce Schow hands out lanterns to the men,

while Catherine Smith lets Elders choose jackets in the size and color of their choice.

After the food run is over, volunteers return to Winslow where that evening we gather at the Chinese restaurant across the street from the motel. This is a tradition for every food run based in Winslow and provides a opportunity for fellowship and a chance to share experiences  from the food run.

The buffet offers a colorful choice of entrees of which these are just a few.

Then it's time for a good night's rest before the food run to Leupp the following day.