Monday, October 11, 2010

Day One - The Volunteers Gather

I'm blogging my experiences in voluntourism. I'm with the Adopt a Native Elder Program in Winslow, Arizona. We have come here, to this simple motel on the edge of town to set up a base. Our rental truck has arrived from Salt Lake City with food boxes, medical equipment, Blue Bird Flour, give-aways, yarn boxes and more. Today we will go to Wal Mart and pick up produce to add to the bounty.

Last night, as one of our traditions, we gathered in the motel meeting room for a briefing and simple dinner. It is a wonderful time as I get to see friends from previous food runs and meet new ones. As we went around and introduced ourselves, I noticed people from Georgia, Oregon, Arizona and, of course, Utah, where the program is based.

It sounds like our work is cut out for us. Last Food Run, in the Spring, we had a large group of young people from a Unitarian church in Salt Lake City join us. They were so enthusiastic, our work was literally lifted from us each day.

Linda, the program founder, reminded us of our "harvest theme" this Fall food run. We come in the Spring and in the Fall.... significant times for those who live on The Land. In the Spring there is planting and in the Fall, the harvest. We are here to help the elders get ready for the winter. Last winter was very harsh on the reservation. Many were snowed in. Our prayers were sent out to them from afar as we worried about their welfare.

Last night, also, we were reminded of the growth of the program which now serves 500 elders ranging in age from 70 - 108 years of age. The program started small. In fact the Wednesday food run will be to the Big Mountain area which is where it all started.

It's an exciting time both for the volunteers and the elders who look forward to our coming twice each year.