assists Navajo elders
Salt Lake Tribune
20 years ago, Linda Myers met Rose Hulligan, a young
Navajo woman who collected day-old bread and canned
goods to support the older members of her tribe.
artist, donated the proceeds of an art sale to fund
a large shopping spree to Sam's Club and trip to the
that would be a nice thing and be the end of it,"
says Myers, who lives in Park City.
it would be the start of a lifelong journey of love,
friendship and effort on behalf of a people ravaged
by poverty, disease, and unemployment and who fight
to maintain their traditional ways and ceremonies.
Patton, Myers co-founded the Adopt-A-Native Elder program
(ANE) in 1993.
simplicity of these people and their daily struggles
drive me," Myers says. "When I'm with them,
I think, 'How can I make a difference in a simple way?'
. . . Sometimes it's the small things that have great
significance to them."
and Myers' charitable endeavors grew from a few food
runs from the back of four-wheel drive vehicles to an
organization with 450 volunteers from as near as Riverton
and far away as Australia donating goods, time and services.
The donated goods are stored at ANE's South Salt Lake
offices at about 3100 S. 300 West.
a Riverton volunteer who labors at the ANE warehouse,
enjoyed her recent 1,000-mile round trip to work with
was a feeling of peace I got out of being there,"
she says. "I didn't have to be something I wasn't.
It made me feel so good about the program."
are still the heart of the assistance program. In April
alone, volunteers distributed 1,460 boxes - valued from
$35 to $65 apiece -in 10 small southern Utah and northern
Arizona settlements, including Tsaile, Bird Springs,
Dilkon and Leupp, according to Ed Keane, ANE's warehouse
based upon the receiving elder's age, gender and needs,
and may contain standard items such as clothing, foodstuffs
and over-the-counter medicine, among other items. Another
2,000 boxes are planned for delivery this October.
- men and women, many between 95 and 105 - must be at
least 70 to be eligible for the program.
try to serve the very oldest and neediest," Myers
She and her
staff assess each elder's health, home status, food
stability and eating habits, then see how best to meet
one has needs, they or their children will write to
us and the program will try to assist them," Myers
an ANE translator, says the elders appreciate the help
is a really nice lady," Benally says. "She
goes and helps and is really close with them."
are financed by donors, who adopt an elder by donating
at least $25 and two food boxes each year. To assure
quality and maintain equity, food is purchased, stocked
and packed at ANE's warehouse.
who are unable to "adopt," other volunteer
shop, sort and pack food and clothing items, or work
on the organization's newsletter, which comes out five
times a year and contains thank-you letters from the
elders and recognition for the donors.
in desperate need right now for volunteers who have
vans, SUVs or trucks for our food runs," Myers
For her Girl
Scout project, 17-year-old Laura Mason of Salt Lake
City donated 150 school boxes to children and 20 to
30 fleece quilts to send to teen mothers in Tsaile,
Ariz. About seven troops assembled the quilts as a part
of baby boxes, which included receiving blankets, knitted
and sewn hats, diapers, outfits and a photo album for
each mother. Mason also worked on Christmas stockings
for Diné children.
like doing things for people and seeing the kids' reactions
in the newsletter," Mason says.
furnishes 500 backpacks stuffed with school supplies
and 2,500 Christmas stockings filled with caps, gloves,
crayons and other practical items to Navajo children
walk a fine line between tradition and the celebration
of Christmas," says Myers, whose organization is
careful not to impose religious or political agendas
upon those it serves.
For 17 years,
Adopt-A-Native Elder has put on an annual rug show to
finance the elders during the harsh winter months and
highlight the beauty of their art and culture. Proceeds
are used to buy firewood and give elders a $60 grocery
certificate. Last year's rug show at Deer Valley yielded
$284,000 to 75 weavers.
we give them wool, they'll weave a rug because they
know it will help them," Myers says. "They're
not a society where they don't help themselves."
by weavers between 85 and 105, these "heart rugs"
may be crooked or imperfect, but they are no less prized.
Myers recently bought several.
weren't perfect, but my gosh, she did a pretty good
job," Myers says about the rug she bought from
a 103-year-old elder.
about how you can help, call 801-474-0535 or consult
the Web at http://www.anelder.org.