Local veterans hit snag with hurricane donations

SMITH LAKE, N.M.

Veterans stand near donations ready to be dispensed

Navajo Times | Christopher S. Pineo
To’Hajiilee Veterans Organization Secretary Jimmy Sacatero Sr., Director of Cornerstone Ministries Inc. Pete Belon, Smith Lake Veterans Organization Vice Commander and Cornerstone Ministry Board President Pastor Bobby Willie, pose alongside To’Hajiilee Navajo Veterans Commander Gilbert Platero with 45 cases of bottled water and other supplies that he delivered to Cornerstone Ministries in Smith Lake on Nov. 3.

With enough bottled water donated by various veterans groups to fill up his living room, To’Hajiilee Veterans Commander Gilbert Platero found himself with no place to accept the donations until he found out about the Navajo Nation Christian Response Team.

When Platero first started gathering donations in September, veterans joined to help people impacted by recent natural disasters in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. To’Hajiilee Chapter, To’Hajiilee Navajo Veterans Organization and Eastern Navajo Veterans Organization donated water, food and some clothing. “After calling the American Red Cross, the United Way, and several other organizations, I was really unable to get this water out,” Platero said. “I finally contacted Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque and they referred me to several people down the line, and at the end of that line I got in touch with Mr. Pete Belon here in Smith Lake.”

Belon, director of Cornerstone Ministries Inc., said the church is working with the Navajo Nation president’s office to send teams to Houston. The Navajo Nation Christian Response Team will make its third trip on Nov. 4. “The team leaves early, 7 o’clock in the morning,” Belon said. “They’ll be in Albuquerque probably around about eight tomorrow, and then we’ll be staying in Dallas at one of the churches, and then be in Houston.” He said multiple denominations and preachers participated to organize the volunteers, who will help with the damage to homes as a result of the storm and flooding.

“We are going to help rebuild drywalls and floors and maybe what they call ‘mud out’, where we have to do the demolition and take out all the belongings, whatever was damaged from the water, so we have to decontaminate that stuff,” Belon said. ‘We have to gut the whole house, and help remodel, and help fix what they need to fix.”


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Categories: News
Tags: veterans day

About Author

Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo’s beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at Chrisp@navajotimes.com.