Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Honoring Our Weavers - Rug Show Theme for 2014

by Linda Myers

This year will be the 25th anniversary of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program's annual rug show. We are very proud to have held this event successfully over this period of time. Some of our Elders have been attending the show every year since it first began. Because of the ages of many of our weavers we decided that this year's show should be a special celebration honoring our weavers, especially since we felt some wouldn't be with us for the 30th year. As a part of this honoring we created a photo of all the weavers who come and participate each year at the show.

Each year we choose a special theme for the weavers to do a special rug for the following year's rug show. I thought it would be nice if each of the weavers could weave a self-portrait of themselves at the loom. For inspiration we showed them pictures as well as beaded necklaces of weavers sitting at their looms. For weavers that have passed, we asked their families to bring their mother's last rug to display this year. Ten weavers who have attended the show have passed on now.

As we began to receive the theme rugs in early January, I was deeply touched by how each Elder perceived themselves. We sent a form asking them questions about what the rug show means to them and what activities they enjoy. It was good to hear their responses. Sometimes it's just a small thing we do that will help a weaver sell her rug. The rug show sponsors over 70 traditional Navajo weavers and gives them all proceeds from the sale of their rugs.

We are proud of carrying on the traditions of weaving. And we also celebrate all the support we have received from our volunteers as well as the weavers and their families and the many wonderful people who attend the show each year and buy the rugs.

It is a great honor to help them sell their rugs.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes - March 2014

by John Aldrich

Yesterday we began the process of packing the Rainbow Food Boxes for the spring food runs. This will continue next Saturday as well ( - - - hint) and will have us ready with most of what we need to begin the spring food runs later this month.

It was a beautiful March day which allowed us to step outside to have an opening circle and Navajo prayer. C.J. Robb had done his usual outstanding job of seeing that everything we needed for the day was in place - - - the food was there, the boxes were made, and other extraneous things cleared out of the warehouse.

The box packing procedure followed the long-standing tradition of circling the warehouse with shopping carts and filling the boxes with the prescribed items that were lined up along the periphery.

New volunteers teamed up with veterans to learn the process.

Packing the boxes can be a challenge because everything must fit so that the box lid will close flat for final taping. There was a genial air of competitiveness among some of the teams to see who could create the most perfect packing job.

Tony and Kathie were quite certain that they had come up with a winner.

After the boxes were filled, each set received a set of labels designating the ultimate recipient. Alaine Merz fulfilled her traditional role of seeing that the labels were distributed properly.

And finally each box was taped shut and the label affixed to the outside.

As the store of food items is depleted, the cartons and boxes in which they came had to be broken down for recycling. Ellsworth Corum seems to be having a challenging time with this carton but ultimately won out.

ANE has always provided donuts to help fuel the volunteers efforts on food packing days. This year Ellsworth generously spent the early morning hours making individual small quiches for the volunteers. Cheryl enjoys one of his delicious creations.

To help preserve a record of the event Juanita shot some video footage with her tablet computer.

Even though the overall process described thus far is fairly consistent from one food packing day to the next, each of these events is also unique. The makeup of volunteers is what contributes to a special atmosphere for each of these days, and yesterday was no exception. Shortly after we began loading boxes, a large group of new volunteers started to file into the warehouse. It became quickly obvious that there was a unique degree of diversity among these people.

I spoke a little later with Fernando who was responsible for organizing this group. Fernando is associated with a school known as the Wizard Language School that specializes in English as a second language. People come from all over the world to learn English through an immersion program that can last for 2 or 3 years. Some then return home while others remain here and pursue higher education or careers.

The group that Fernando brought was delightfully diverse and mostly in family groups. They were positioned around the periphery of the warehouse and handed out the needed amount of food items for each box as it went by. Thus the volunteers managing the carts got to meet these international visitors with each circling of the warehouse.

The most striking group was a Muslim family.

The youngest, Aseel, made sure that boxes of tea were properly distributed.

A family from South Korea was in charge of passing out cereal boxes, oats and corn flakes.

From Bolivia, Indira and her two girls handed out vegetable soup.

There were many other new volunteers in addition to the group from the Wizard School. Kate Maxwell-Stephens typically is responsible for a number of students from Salt Lake Community College who need to fulfill a certain number of volunteer hours for her classes there. Katie and Dallas were two such people.

Although not new to the Program, Linda took her turn circling the warehouse and here receives cans of fruit cocktail from the Muslim girls.

Packing Rainbow Boxes can be quite a job, but all went smoothly yesterday. And just as important, everyone seemed to be having fun. As we make the rounds of food run sites this spring, the Elders will appreciate the love and warm feelings that went into each box along with the food.