Rita, front center, poses with Navajo friends and new friends from Los Alamos. Photo by Kateri Morris
Navajo resident Rita welcomes Rotary Club President Oliver Morris, in Rotary shirt, as he and others deliver several wagonloads of supplies. Photo by Linda Hull
Spike and Stormy eagerly await deliveries and visitors at Rita’s house on the Navajo Nation. Photo by Linda Hull
BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
Early on the morning of November 20, Rotary Club members from Los Alamos caravanned to Lake Valley and White Rock Chapter Houses in the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation. The first vehicle, a pick-up truck towing a trailer filled with food, water, and general supplies for area residents, led the way toward Farmington. The purchase of the trailer’s cargo was provided through a Rotary District 5520 grant of almost $4000 allocated to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos’s Navajo Nation Recovery Project.
Upon entering Navajo land, Rotarians met with Navajo Councilman Mark Freeland and followed him and other Navajo officials to the homes of individuals determined to be among the most vulnerable and at risk. Among those officials were Norman Henry, the White Rock Chapter President; Shawn Jim, the Senior Center Supervisor; and Leroy Joe, the Senior Center driver.
Club President Oliver Morris,with wife Kateri and children by his side, skillfully navigated challenging roads with the truck and trailer. Jim O’Donnell was next in the caravan, and then Chris Sierk with Alison Pannell, Linda Hull, and Meals of Hope volunteer Lian Williams. Kateri Morris’s father, Larry Rodgers, who presented a Rotary program in September on Navajo land distribution, also joined the caravan when the Rotarians arrived.
Although there were occasional stretches of highways and less-travelled paved roads,much of the trip covered great distances on nearly impassable, rutted roads that could easily be best described as washboards and arroyos. These byways reached deep into desolate parts of the eastern Navajo Nation. In one case, supplies were transferred from the trailer into the other vehicles because the clearance beneath the trailer wasn’t high enough.
At each residence–whether at the end of jarring roads or in small neighborhoods of subsidized housing–Rotarians found grateful and humble residents, most of them elderly, and many living alone. Only a few had running water.
The Rotary caravan returned to Los Alamos after a 14-hour day that was both rewarding and revealing in countless ways.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos would like to thank the community for its support of its summer fundraiser, Brews, Band, and BBQ, which provided funding for October’s Meals of Hope event. Many of those packaged meals were included with supplies taken to the Navajo Nation.