Southwest Indian Relief Council
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A Program of PWNA

Success Stories

 Bessie and Sarah's Stories


The Whippoorwill community in Arizona was selected for a previous rotation of our Winter Fuel service. Our Program Partner for the service was the Whipporwill Senior Center. When we visited, Kaven, Senior Center director, was proud to share that the home deliveries were completed and the remaining wood was scheduled for distribution the following week. After arriving at the Senior Center, Kaven plotted the driver's route for the mornings' wood deliveries.

All of the Elders receiving this gift of warmth were thankful and expressed their gratitude. Most of the Elders had family living with them and half of the Elders already had started their wood stoves because of the cold evenings arriving sooner than later. Bessie and Sarah, just two of the Elders that received wood on this crisp day, shared their stories.

Bessie lives alone in a one room house situated next to a traditional Hogan. She lived in the Hogan before moving into the more "contemporary" home, but doesn't recall when she moved. Although she has running water, there are no kitchen appliances or bathroom. The wood provided was unloaded just outside the house and this pile would fill Bessie's wood box several times over to keep her warm for many weeks. Bessie's caregiver visits each morning, five days a week. Besides preparing the fire, the caregiver cooks breakfast, cleans and does laundry if needed. The wood stove is used for the cooking, but there are times the caregiver will bring her electric skillet and cook on that as well. Bessie receives her lunches daily from the Whippoorwill Senior Center via their home delivery service and she also has family living nearby to check in on her. Bessie was thankful for the wood. She said it would typically cost her a lot to receive a cord of wood comparable to that provided this day and it was very helpful.

Bessie Wood Stove

Sarah is a 72 year old Elder and shares her home with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Sarah met the volunteers in the driveway and showed them where to unload the gift of wood. It was evident from looking at the roof of the house, that the chimney would need to be repaired before the wood stove could be used for heating. Sarah was pleased with the donation of wood as the savings would allow her to purchase the items needed to repair the roof. She said, "The older we get — we need more wood." Sarah was appreciative of the delivery made by her friend Kaven and his entourage of volunteers.

Sarah and Kaven Chimney

The purpose of the this Winter Fuel service is to help Elders in need during the cold winter months. The smiles and thanks received during the deliveries showed that this was accomplished!

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