THE MISSION & PROGRAM SERVICESWhat is the purpose of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program? Why does it exist? What sets it apart from other humanitarian organizations that exist to help the Navajo and other Native American tribes?
The Program got its start in the 1980's during the turbulent years of the Hopi-Navajo land dispute which ultimately resulted in 10,000 Navajos being relocated from their traditional homelands. During those times there were many Elders facing severe hardships and deprivations. When Linda Myers became aware of this desperate situation it was food more than anything else that these people needed for their survival. With the assistance of Grace Smith Yellowhammer, Linda began to help.
As Linda's solo trips to the reservation with food and clothing gradually evolved over the years into the complex logistical endeavor of today's food runs, food has remained the core focus of how the Program assists the Elders. But in addition to the challenges of survival there were also challenges to the traditional lifestyle of the Elders, including dislocation and the ever-increasing influences of Anglo culture.
Linda's commitment from the outset was to provide what assistance she could for the basic survival of the Elders as well as to honor and respect their traditional culture and lifestyle. These are among of the principal values that differentiate A.N.E. from other humanitarian organizations. We wish to honor and respect the Elders as they are and have no agenda to try to change them in any way. These are resilient people, and as long as they have their basic needs of food, heat, and shelter met, they will survive as they have for hundreds of years.
THE NATIVE AMERICAN GIVEAWAYWe give our best and give it freely with no expectation of return. The Elders feel gratitude for these gifts, often expressing it through their shy smiles. Some give small gifts such as necklaces and jewelry in return. Many are too poor to be able to make such a gift. Their gift is to touch our hands and our hearts and to offer their prayers. That is enough.
The Giveaway Circle is a central principal of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program. We give of ourselves and our possessions, and we give our best, while we hold no expectation of anything in return. This thought underlies everything we do for the Elders in our Program. However, despite the fact that these people have very little themselves, they are often moved to give in return.
During the Program at each Foodrun there is a point where Linda asks the Elders if there is anything they wish to donate to the Program. Some of the Elders or their families always come forward at this point and present things they have made, typically rugs and jewelry such as necklaces. Sometimes the gifts are specifically made for people such as Linda or the Elder’s sponsor, while most are given for the use of the Program. Many of these gifts, particularly the rugs, are used by A.N.E. to honor individuals who have made special contributions to further the work of the Program.
ADOPT AN ELDERAdopting an Elder is one of the many ways in which you can participate in the Giveaway Circle. A.N E. is designed to build a bridge between individuals and cultures through opportunites to “adopt” Elders and help provide their basic needs.
You choose the way that best fits your specific interest and ability to give.
When you adopt, you commit to providing your Elder with two sets of Rainbow Food Boxes annually. A.N.E. provides and delivers the food. The cost is $200 per year for the two sets of food boxes. If you’re able, additional Elder support is available for Foodruns and support throughout the year.
For more information on adopting an Elder, please visit our Adopt An Elder page.
SUPPORTING ELDERS IN OTHER WAYSMany people would like to support the Elders but, for one reason or another, prefer not to commit to an individual Elder. The Program has a variety of ways that you can support the Elders.
Critical Need: BECOME A 6-OR 12-MONTH FOOD CERTIFICATE SPONSORWhen you touch an Elder's life with the gift of food, you feed their spirits and their hearts. As one Elder told us,
"Because you bring me food, you wish my life to continue for another day."
Living in remote locations, it is vitally important that the Elders have an adequate food supply. You may purchase food certificates for Elders in need. Elders can use the certificates at Bashas’ grocery stores on the Reservation. The certificates may be used only to purchase food and over-the-counter medical items.
Becoming a Food Certificate Sponsor is a six-month or one-year commitment and a one-time billing. To enroll as a Foof Certificate Sponsor. click here
Critical Need: GIVE THE GIFT OF WARMTHA load of firewood is one of the gifts the Elders appreciate most. Most Elders live in hogans or simple homes heated only with firewood. Many Elders cook over wood. As they get older, gathering firewood becomes more difficult Most wood must be hauled down from the mountains. During the winter months, many roads are inaccessible. A supply of firewood is vital for the Elders. 100% of your firewood donations go directly to an Elder. To order an essential load of firewood for an Elder, please visit our Donate/Order page.
TWICE YEARLY FOODRUNS TO THE NAVAJO RESERVATIONThese core needs are met through the delivery of food through the Foodruns, and, particularly in winter time, the distribution of food certificates and checks for firewood. Food certificates are a particularly effective way of aiding families in the winter since they are simple to deliver and provide Elders with a resource to acquire whatever they might need at the moment. To learn more about the Foodruns and how you can participate either through donations or by attending, please visit our Foodruns page.
THE RUG PROGRAMDespite the urge to want to try to help in any way possible, the reality is that our Program has limited resources, and thus, we continue to remain committed to the core mission. We can't become substitutes for the role of the family in caring for their Elders; we can't become their healthcare system; we can't provide the resources that are more appropriately derived from the Navajo Nation and Chapter Houses’
However, one important way that we support traditional Elders is by facilitating a market for their weavings. For many weavers this has been their sole means of supporting their families. Through the annual rug show at Deer Valley, smaller shows and markets, as well as online rug sales via our web site, A.N.E. is able to offer a significant amount of income to our Elders who are weavers. This, in turn, provides them with additional resources for food, shelter, and transportation. To purchase a beautiful, one-of-a-kind handwoven rug, please visit our Buy A Handwoven Rug page. You may also visit us to purchase a beautiful rug and meet many of our weavers in person by joining us at our Annual Rug Show & Sale held in Park City, Utah every November. For more information, please visit our Navajo Rug Show & Sale page.
THE FEATHERS FOR THE FORGOTTEN ONES PROGRAMAnother essential need of the Program is donations for Elders who are too old, in poor health, homebound or in nursing homes, or who are otherwise not adoptable as a part of our regular Program. We typically have about 35 Elders who are 90 to over 100 years old in this portion of our Program. We call these Elders the “Eagles” of the Program. They represent the ones who are closest to Spirit.
Many of these Elders are blind or bedridden and live in very remote portions of the Reservation. Their needs are simple: food, a blanket or set of sheets, and often we receive requests for special medical needs such as incontinent products, antibiotic ointments, hearing aids, etc. Many of the Elderly on the Reservation have diabetes and other health-related complications. Please visit our General Donations page.
THE CHILDREN'S PROGRAMWhen asked how we can help them, many Elders indicate that helping their grandchildren is an important way we can assist them. The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program maintains several Programs to assist the children living on the Reservation.
Additionally, every early fall, we deliver filled backpacks to several of the Reservation elementary schools. You may support this Program either by making a donation to the Children’s Backpack Program on the Donate/Order page. You may also choose to drop off or mail items such as backpacks and school supplies directly to our Salt Lake City warehouse and we will fill and deliver the backpacks to the schools.
To give to the Children's Program visit our General Donations page.
CHRISTMAS STOCKING PROGRAMWe also provide a little joy for the children through our Christmas Stocking Program. Stockings filled with small toys and treats and topped with a warm hand-knit cap are delivered to several Reservation elementary schools every year. You may support this Program through knitting caps, mailing or dropping off small toys, items, and treats that would fit in a Christmas stocking to our Salt Lake City warehouse. Stockings must arrive at our warehouse before November 1st for us to deliver to the schools on the Reservation. If you have a truck and would like to volunteer to deliver the stockings, please contact our office at: 801-474-0535.
How you can participate:
Stockings can be homemade or purchased. They should be 12-14 inches wide to fit items inside. All stockings MUST BE LABELED with a tag and be appropriate for the following:
- Boy Preschool 4-6 years
Boy 6-8 years
Boy 8-10 years
Boy 12-14 years
- Girl Preschool 4-6 years
Girl 6-8 years
Girl 8-10 years
Girl 12-14 years
Suggestions for Preschool: Golden books, small toy, Cracker Jacks, coloring book, stickers, candy cA.N.E.s, crayons.
Suggestions for Grade School: crayons, notebooks (small), stickers, card games, flashcards, paints, lotion, new socks, pocket toys, and gender specific toys, gloves, toothbrush and toothpaste, Rice Krispie bars, activity books.
Suggestions for girls: hair barrettes, ponytail holders, jacks, jump ropes.
Suggestions for boys: toy cars, toy trucks, baseballs or other small balls.
CEREMONY FUNDThe Program assists Elders and their families to maintain a traditional way of life in other ways as well. A.N.E., through the Ceremony Fund, provides funds to help families that need help with traditional healing ceremonies. We also help families who need financial support for funeral expenses when one of our Elders passes away. To give a donation to the Ceremony Fund, visit our General Donations page.
Our mission statement refers to "mending the broken circle" of our relationship with Native Americans and the Land. This is another unique aspect of our Program. It is important to educate ourselves about Native American culture as well as bring the cultures in contact with one another. This happens extensively through the food runs and the annual rug show.
WHAT THE PROGRAM MEANS TO THE ELDERS WE SERVELinda receives many letters expressing the gratitude of the Elders and their families. For many, the assistance we provide, especially through the winter months, makes survival possible.
The logo of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program illustrates the key elements of our vision. The rainbow arc represents the Program under which two cultures are reaching out to each other. With the power of prayers, represented by the eagle feather, the broken circle is mended.