Northern Plains Reservation Aid (formerly American Indian Relief Council)
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Success Stories

AIRC Winter Fuel

Waiting for Spring
The wind chill is minus 11 degrees.  Gusts of wind are whipping the still-falling snow into a stinging blur.  This weather is normal on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, home of Rubena and Melinda.

Propane Truck

The AIRC Winter Fuel service helped Rubena pay for a propane delivery to keep her family warm.

Rubena, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, lives in a two-bedroom trailer with her son, daughter-in-law, and 6 children.  Rubena works 12 to 16 hours a day during the summer as a flagger for the highway department.  The pay is good, but it's not enough to keep her through the long winter when little work is available.

The family's trailer has no insulation or skirting, so only a thin wall separates them from the cold, wind, and ice.  The water pipes are exposed and vulnerable to freezing and bursting.  Old tires weigh down the tin roof to help ensure that it doesn't blow off.  By February, Rubena's propane tank is running low, and there isn't enough cash to pay the $200 minimum order required by the delivery company.

When Rubena qualified to receive a $100 AIRC Winter Fuel voucher, she was able to refill her propane supply.  This allowed her family to stay warm and also bathe without heating water on the stove.

Melinda wearing coat inside to keep warm

Melinda used her voucher to buy wood pellets, so she no longer has to wear her coat indoors.

Melinda, a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, lives on the other side of the Wind River Reservation.  Like many Native American Elders, Melinda cares for a baby while its parents are away.

When AIRC visited her to talk about the Winter Fuel service, she and the little one were huddled under coats and blankets to stay warm.  Struggling Elders like Melinda must often forego heating fuel to buy food, clothing, or medicine.

Melinda spent her voucher on economical and clean-burning wood pellets. Her tribe buys the pellets in bulk for about half of the normal price.  This way, Melinda's $100 would stretch to heat her home for nearly two months instead of one.

No Elder should have to fear freezing to death. Won't you help AIRC protect vulnerable Elders this winter?

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