Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Food Run to the Navajo Reservation - Adopt a Native Elder Program

It's that time of year again. In both spring and fall, I join other volunteers and support the Adopt a Native Elder Program by taking a week to drive, transport food and clothing and bring cheer to the traditional Navajo elders in the program.

I've written about the Adopt a Native Elder Program before. It has become part of my life. Our group of volunteers meets in Winslow, Arizona and coordinates three food runs. One to Sanders, one to Big Mountain and the last to Teesto. We purchase the fresh food to add to the packaged food boxes from Salt Lake City, load the trucks and SUVs with the food and flour and decide which volunteers will drive.

We caravan out to a central location on the reservation to distribute the boxes and small presents, termed "giveaways", and enjoy a meal and celebration with the elders while our volunteer nurses assess their medical needs.

This time I am loading my car with used sweaters, coats and blankets that I am donating and that have been gathered from friends who wish to support the effort. I'll tuck in some jars of tasty jams and jellies as a special gift to co-founder Grace Smith Yellowhammer. If it wasn't for her efforts, we would not be serving these elders.

The Volunteers

Another joy of the program is seeing and spending time with the good people that volunteer, some on a regular basis, to support the elders. They join with the Navajo families in making and serving lunch at our three stops, they unpack and distribute giveaways and the lovingly unpack the used clothing and blankets and place them on "the tarp."

The guys do the heaviest work. The unpack the trucks and stack the food boxes, medicine boxes and Bluebird flour in a carefully constructed "Rainbow Circle."

We have some special volunteers who return to each Food Run to help. John and Penny are the sole picture takers allowed. John B. makes sure we are able to purchase rugs and jewelry made by the Elders and their families by serving as mobile ATM. The nurses go from elder to elder assessing their needs and distribute such important things as wheelchairs and canes.

We go to meetings, we have a lengthy ceremony and we line up in a car caravan to depart early each morning. It's work, yes, but it is joyful work.

Enjoying the Journey

I always enjoy stopping in to La Posada, a fully restored Harvey House hotel in Winslow, AZ. On our visit to Sanders, we go by Burnham's Trading Post to have an ice cream, visit with Burnham's and, perhaps, select a Native American made piece of jewelry or rug to take home.

This year I am going to Winslow early so that I can visit the artists on the Hopi Arts Trail. I've always heard about it but it just didn't fit into my schedule to go.

More Information

Adopt a Native Elder Program

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