Navajo Santa School Delivery and Family Interviews
September 5-6, 2014
Navajo Santa board members and volunteer "elves" distributed backpacks, school supplies and school logoed sweatshirts to 246 students in grades K-6 at the Montezuma Creek Elementary School on September 5, 2014. Elves Marty and Darrell Thomas provided dental hygiene kits and an entertaining presentation on dental care. The Eye Care 4 Kids mobile unit from Salt Lake City was also at the school conducting vision tests. The students and teachers were so excited and genuinely appreciative. A check for $5,000 was presented to Alvina Tsotsie, a counselor from Red Mesa High School. The check will be used to take Red Mesa high school students on a field trip to Flagstaff, Arizona next spring. They will visit the University of Arizona and engage in a cultural exchange with people from the Havasupai tribe.
While in the area, a few board members visited the Homer Dale Farm located at St. Christopher's Mission to observe the progress on the garden and to see if they were using the tools, tool shed and outhouse provided by Navajo Santa last December. The garden is progressing and growing. The tools and tool shed are being used. The outhouse was not built yet. Irrigation piping and pumps will be installed after the harvest or in the spring. Navajo Santa funded some of the irrigation supplies.
The next day's journey was to the Navajo Mountain Chapter. Board member, Marianne Felt arranged a meeting with Ruby Burns the director of the Senior Center to plan logistics and activities for a luncheon with the elders and their families to coincide with the December family deliveries. Marianne also presented her with early Keshmish presents from her wish list for a window air conditioner and room fan.
Board member Patrick Juhlin coordinated the Family Delivery interviews with Chapter representatives who chose the families and volunteered as the guides and interpreters for the interviews that day. After long hours of driving on rugged roads and steep climbs to remote locations, 18 families were interviewed. Most of the families were elders, many of whom were living in hogans with no electricity or running water. Most did not speak English, they herded sheep and some were weavers and basket makers. Despite the challenges for this delivery, it will be a chance for our volunteers to see how Navajos once all lived. This will be a vanishing way of life once these elders pass on.
In addition to the family and senior center interviews, board member Mike Dahl drove a trailer full of lumber and building supplies to construct two rain catchers. The materials were donated by Dell Phillips of Phillips Marble and Dave Stringham of Stringham Lumber. The materials were delivered to Hank Stevens, a local Navajo, who obtains grants and donations to build rain catchers and irrigation systems for the Navajos who live in or near Navajo Mountain. Hank was thrilled with the donation and will find good homes in need of the rain catchers. Rain catchers are used to feed livestock and to store water for culinary purposes and gardens.
Kudos to: Ann Johnson for coordinating the School Delivery; Vicky Hoagland and Marcia Thompson who helped shop for school supplies; Patrick Juhlin for his work organizing the Family Delivery interviews with the Chapter representatives; Marianne Felt for setting up the Senior Center December luncheon and obtaining their wish list; Mike Dahl for procuring and delivering the rain catcher construction materials and for ordering the school sweatshirts; and to Phillip's Marble and Stringham Lumber for donating the materials. Special thanks to the eight board members and Toni Dee, our NS liaison, and elves Kanista Juhlin, Phil Johnson, Dell and Debbie Phillips and Marty and Darrell Thomas for their time and dedication in making this a very productive and gratifying weekend.