Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by John Aldrich

At Adopt-A-Native-Elder we like to get a head start on the Thanksgiving holiday and hold our special event on the Sunday before the official day.

Last evening one hundred volunteers and assorted royalty gathered to share in a celebration to honor all of the people who have put in many dedicated hours over the past year on behalf of our Elders. All of the major events in the ANE calendar are over for the year following the successful rug show which ended 2 weeks ago. So it was time to relax and enjoy everyone's company one more time before the year is over.

Our Thanksgiving event is a potluck dinner organized by Virginia Aldrich. The suggestion was made some years ago that we should produce a cookbook of dishes brought by our many volunteers who are also talented cooks. The suggestion was never implemented but the thought behind it remains just as valid. In addition to turkey and ham, there was a cornucopia of other delights - and plenty to go around.

Prior to the meal there was ample time for visiting while we were being soothed by beautiful flute music played by Scott Bitter. C.J. made a presentation to Virginia and Rodger Williams offered a prayer. Linda wasn't able to be with us this year since she had hip replacement surgery a week ago. But Rodger reported that she was doing well and sorry that she couldn't be with us.

Following the meal C.J. reported on the results of the rug show, which were excellent. Eileen Quintana presented four finalists from the Shi Yazhi Princess/Ambassador event at the rug show. These girls presented themselves with great poise as they introduced themselves in Navajo and related what the ANE experience meant to them. These girls work beautifully as a team and had attended a pow wow at UVU following the rug show where they were able to collect donations on behalf of the program.

The evening concluded with some words about the Christmas stocking program by Joan Reid. As we look ahead now to our own Thanksgiving travels and dinners, we wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Keshmish.

Without further comment, here is a collection of photos from the evening:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dedication. A Tribute To Shirley Stephens

by John Aldrich

I think as we age and retire many of us look for something meaningful to occupy our time after our careers are over. Volunteering is an obvious choice. A person who embraced this choice unreservedly was Shirley Stephens. Fortunately for us, her choice for volunteering was the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program. Shirley passed away two days ago and leaves a legacy of memories that will long remain with us.

I am not sure exactly how long Shirley was affiliated with the program My first photograph of her dates to the 2007 food run to Sanders-Big Mountain-Teesto, but I suspect her involvement precedes this.

In this photo, Shirley stands on the far right. Her son Lee is on the back row towards the left. From the same food run at Sanders, here is Shirley with her son Lee behind her.

Shirley's principle focus, however, was the warehouse where she was a devoted volunteer for many years. In fact, I suspect she had a lot to do with bolstering the retention rate for volunteers at the warehouse.

There's no question that many of us looked forward every Tuesday and Friday to one of Shirley's scones. Her generous contribution of these delicacies provided a highlight for anyone who tasted one. She was a fine baker and shared her talents with us as generously as she did with the Elders.

Besides coming faithfully on Tuesdays and Fridays, Shirley was usually in attendance when there were special functions at the warehouse. Craft day, where we make Christmas ornament for the Elders, was one such event where she was usually present.

In this photo, taken in 2008, her daughter Kathy is also present. Kathy now works for ANE in the office.

In 2012 she shows an ornament that she created on behalf of Sally Tah at Many Farms.

In addition to regular volunteer days and craft day, Shirley was typically present for the semiannual packing of Rainbow Food Boxes for the food runs.

This photo from 2011 shows Shirley with a number of family members many of whom were as devoted to the program as she. Her daughter Kathy is fourth from the right, and her daughter-in-law Kate is third from the left.

In more recent years, Shirley's health began to fail and she had siginificant problems with her vision which meant she could no longer drive. Other volunteers, however, would faithfully pick her up and bring her to the warehouse and return her to her home. When she reached a point where it was necessary for her to move to a retirement facility, her attendance at the warehouse necessarily dropped off. But she did make one more appearance at craft day this past June with her daughter Kathy.

Shirley's example of dedication and service is one we can all admire and aspire to follow.

We extend our sympathies to her family.