The “Helping Our Relatives” Project is a unique internal organization effort to engage all staff in direct giving and supporting those in need. A modest amount was given to each staff member to use as they see fit to support youth, elders and families. The manner and method staff choose, the people they choose and what they choose to purchase or support is completely up to them.
Here is one story from staff member Renee Goldtooth-Halwood and her use of funds:
“Helping Our Relatives” funding was shared via groceries to Whippoorwill community elders on Navajo Nation. The area is in a rural part of the Nation and homesteads are quite distant from paved road. Some families may have vehicles but are not reliable and other community members are fiercely protecting their families. The process to strategically plan how to share essentials was quite involved: standing in line at Bashas (local grocery store), getting my temperature checked by security, having to stand to the side until my temperature cooled, filling my cart, purchasing, loading, unloading, disinfecting each item, washing produce, repacking in clean sanitized bags, then driving rough roads to deliver.
I traveled with my mother who was adamant to join me and said, “I’ll stay in the car.” She was a wonderful companion, sitting in the front seat, with her mask and gloves on. Between the car where she sat, me standing to the side and relative’s eastern facing doorways, we shared tears full of love for each other and also for the unknown future. We wanted to communicate with action that we are thinking of them through prayer, through song that takes us from sunrise, sunset, twilight, darkness then back again. Taking the pandemic one day at a time.
In addition to the groceries, the Helping Our Relatives funding fed the people by contributing to a lunch for the team’s at the Apache County and Navajo Community Health Representative (CHR) for assisting NB3 Foundation with unloading and storing 300 boxes of food, thousands of gallons of water, and then keeping them safe until the CHR’s can deliver. In addition to all these wonderful points of light, I was quite impressed with the collaborative efforts of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service Chinle Service Unit, NAIHS CSU (federal), Navajo CHR Program (tribal), Apache County (county) and Notah Begay III Foundation (native-led non-profit). This NAIHS CSU Division of Public Health team was so organized they created and printed recipes using ingredients in the NB3 Foundation boxes. In unloading boxes at Apache County, I learned more about how the CHR’s are delivering firewood and coal to community and how local young people making care packages for community. Many stories to tell but I’ll end with saying that we were honored to hear the Navajo sun song after unloading boxes, a reminder about the reciprocity that reverberates through all of our collective work whether it’s funding, food, water, masks, and time.
The generosity of donors helped us move with urgency to protect our people, thank you for that.