ADOPT A NATIVE ELDER PROGRAM
Monday, February 3, 2020, 2-4pm
Santa Fe Community Foundation
501 Halona Street
A Bridge of Hope - Adopt-A-Native-Elder (A.N.E.) Program. Judy Rhodes and myself decided to participate and sponsor a Navajo Elder last summer after meeting the founder of A.N.E., Linda Myers. It was the beginning of a very special journey that would change our lives in unique and significant ways. In early October, we took off on a 5-day journey to the Navajo Nation – Chinle, Arizona and Canyon de Chelly to participate in three food runs and giveaway ceremonies. There were over 30 volunteers from 5 different states, including Judy and myself, two Santa Fe Village Elders helping Navajo Native Elders, whose age ranged from 75 to 98.
We were eager to help, to experience this intriguing culture, and to share ourselves and our stories. Despite a communication barrier, we all understood warm hugs and meaningful actions. We worked with a variety of assignments and laughed with abandon as we learned Navajo protocol and humor! We met our Elder, Esther Jane Herbert, discovering that her hogan’s roof had just caved in and she was sharing a hogan with her granddaughter on their ancestral land. What memories remain with me to this day? A man in his late 90’s who lit up with a smile as I gave him a small gift, who held my hand in his and said thank you, only to discover that he died that very evening. Watching Esther as she stood using her walker to balance but with incredible agility choosing warm clothes to survive the winter. Ester showed me how to hold her bag as she "grinned from ear to ear” and chose three pleated skirts and two velvet blouses, proudly holding them up to her body to show me how fine she looked. Receiving a beautiful necklace from Esther as she removed it from her neck and put it around mine at a giving ceremony. Seeing the beaming faces and listening to the chuckles of the Elders as we performed humorous skits and sang songs they easily recognized as birthday greetings. Seeing the joy as they ate with abandon plentiful, delicious food easily digestible for so many without teeth and watching a very old, bent-over elder man walk around the entire room hugging each volunteer and saying Ya’at’eeh (hello) and Ahe’ hee’ (thank you).
Please join us on Feb 3 from 2-4pm to hear our stories, see our visual presentation, learn how A.N.E. distributes more than 325,00 pounds of assistance to more than 650 Elders, meet Sharon Lewis, a volunteer of nearly 30 years who lives here in Tesuque and is full of life and enthusiasm, and shop our small rug and jewelry sale - items all made by the Elders who receive 100% of the profit.