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.


  1. God bless Shirley's family and friends and may you feel peace in your hearts today and always. My thoughts and prayers are with you. God keep you and heal your grieving hearts. Prayers from Lauria Bell-Hughes

  2. Thank you so much for honoring our mother. It is greatly appreciated.