Apache Co. senior centers get new vans

By Glenda Rae Davis
Navajo Times

FORT DEFIANCE, April 26, 2012

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(Times photo - Glenda Rae Davis)

Nazlini Chapter senior citizens and center supervisor JoAnn Dedman pose in front of their new 2012 suburban at Apache County District 2's Elderly Appreciation Day April 12 in Fort Defiance.

Apache County District 2 once again expressed its appreciation for elders with the donation of new vehicles to the six senior citizen centers in the district.

As it has for the past 14 years, the district will donate the vehicles to replace vehicles it donated four years ago, and commemorated the gift by holding an Elder Appreciation Day at the district administration office in Fort Defiance.

Slightly over 300 people, most from the lucky senior centers, attended the April 12 event, which consisted of a half-mile wellness walk, distribution of 100 free pairs of eyeglasses from Bishop Optical, and lunch.

The six centers will receive their new vehicle once the Navajo Nation approves the paperwork, and each will get a vehicle suited to local conditions.

The Tselani-Cottonwood, Fort Defiance and Ganado centers will get a 2012 GM van that seats 15 passengers and has "stabilitrak" technology to detect and reduce loss of traction on slippery roads.

The Sawmill, Tsaile-Wheatfields and Nazlini centers will get a 2012 4x4 Chevy Suburban that can seat nine.

All vehicles will be equipped with FlexFuel technology to allow the driver to switch from six to four cylinders, which could reduce gas consumption.

"We're very happy we're getting a Suburban," said JoAnn Dedman, supervisor of the Nazlini senior center. "I know that the Navajo Nation doesn't have all the resources to support all of its programs. That is when Apache County district 2 steps in."

For many of the chapters, the new vehicles will be immediately put to use.

"We're operating on a Trailblazer, which only accommodates four clients at a time," said Minnie Tsosie of Tsaile-Wheatfields Chapter. "We're very fortunate to have the district donate a larger vehicle, it is something that is very much needed in our area."

Each chapter intends to use the vehicles to not only transport elders but also to take hot meals to them, a necessity for many who no longer can cook for themselves.

"Our meals for the elders may be the only one that they get that day," said Phyllis Yazzie of Ganado Chapter. "We serve a large area. We don't only cater to Ganado, we also go to Kinlichee, Klagetoh, Cornfields, Steamboat and Greasewood. We serve about 60 to 70 seniors a day, so the vehicle is very much needed."

District 2 Supervisor Tom White, who originated the vehicle donations, was delighted with how things were going.

"We're happy about the turnout. It's all about and for the seniors," he said.

He explained that the vehicles were purchased from Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix using state transit funds, and that this could be the last such donations.

"This was supposed to be the final year that the transit funds will be available," White said. "This was just my way of using those funds."

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