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Helping Hands: Navajo-Hopi relief fund receives awards, shifts focus

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In June, the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund was recognized by the Arizona House and Senate.

Ethel Branch, founder and director of the fund, said, “We appreciate representatives Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren and Myron Tsosie, and Senator Jamescita Peshlakai for their efforts in this regard.”

The fund also received the Community Service and Leadership Award from the Diné Studies Conference, which Branch said was a tremendous honor.

Also, Branch was named Woman of the Year by the Phoenix Indian Center for her work with the fund.

“These accolades are a tribute to the tremendous collective work of our volunteers, staff, leadership and fellow community members,” Branch said.

She said the relief fund closed out its food distribution program at the end of May and tapered off its distribution of personal protective equipment.

“Overall, we provided relief to over 500,000 Navajo and Hopi people,” she said. “This tremendous effort would not have been possible without the support of all of our donors and volunteers. Thank you for your contributions to this work!”

While the pandemic is not over, she added, the fund’s work will transition to long-term, resiliency-based efforts centered on making communities pandemic proof and climate change resilient.
“To that end,” she said, “we will launch our inaugural community center in Monument Valley on Aug. 2.”

The center will serve as an innovation hub and a welcoming community space.

“Through endeavors like this,” Branch said, “we hope to continue sparking the fire of leadership and problem solving with our communities.”

Partnership delivers resources to Navajo students

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah – Heart of America and the Young Living Foundation have installed education and solar home kits for 75 Navajo families with students who are without electricity.
These families were identified by the San Juan School District.

The education kit includes school and art supplies, books and games. The solar power station kit powers electronic devices, lights and small appliances.

Young Living Foundation will also provide 100 Chromebook computers to be distributed by the San Juan School District.

The multi-phase partnership between the two organizations began in May 2021 as Young Living and HOA assembled 1,000 distance-learning packs to offset challenges of learning on the reservation, where access to electricity is limited.

The project culminated Wednesday with a Wellness Center transformation at Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek, Utah, as the school prepares for back-to-school.

In a news release, the organizations said students, whether they live in a city, rural community, or on a reservation, deserve as many social, emotional, and physical supports as possible as they embrace the myriad learning changes brought on by COVID-19.

Jill Heath, Heart of America president and CEO, said, “Providing the critical education spaces and resources students and families need to thrive is our goal, and partners like Young Living help make it happen.”

Since 2009, the Young Living Foundation has donated a total of $23 million to address the needs of communities around the world.


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