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Success Stories

 Mr. Jim and the Forgotten

SWIRC Winter Fuel - The Forgotten 2
Many frail Elders live in unsafe,
sub-standard housing.

Fran is a local outreach worker with the Highlands Navajo Outreach program located in Thoreau (NM).  In the late fall, she requested a wood distribution for  Elders of the Highlands/Thoreau community through the Southwest Indian Relief Council Program's Winter Fuel service.  When the home deliveries were made, Fran found a couple of families that were burning old clothing to cook and warm up the house.  There were 4 to 5 people living in each house.

At one home, this was the story Fran was told: 

The land where Jim lives in Borago Pass is dry. Jim, an elderly Navajo man, was out picking desert shrubs to burn in his wood stove. But this was pitiful. He told Fran that the shrubs he picked were so dry that they burned up before the house even got warm. He did not know what else to do. So when Jim’s wood was delivered, he broke down and cried. And then he said to her:

“I have been praying and I prayed to the white man’s God (meaning
‘the father and God in heaven over all’) and my prayers are answered.”

Some time later, Fran sent a fuel worker back out to visit Jim. He had been very careful not to waste the wood that he was given. He would only put in 2 pieces of wood at a time and then add coal to make it last longer.

Afterward, Fran reported that Jim just celebrated his 89th birthday. He had diabetes and a disease of the joints. His wife was even worse and he worried about her more than his own condition. She received dialysis every other day. One daughter lived next door and she helped out her parents. But Jim was a very quiet man and in the humble Navajo way, he would not ask for help even when he needed it. He was very, very thankful when the wood showed up.

The Forgotten
Fran said that through their efforts of working with SWIRC programs, Highlands Navajo Outreach became aware of Elders such as “Mr. Jim” who were in need but so remote that no one even knew about them. Since Highland found out Jim Jona was there, they sent someone daily to check on him and his wife, who both were in poor health. She said:

“NRC has opened doors for us, to be able to go a little bit further
 in healthy living, daily checkups, and reducing isolation” for our elders.
Fran also said that Navajo is the largest Indian nation. The population has been growing and the need tremendous. They have received funding from the state and the tribe, but this was not enough for every person to get help. Fran says it is like this:

 “If you live in an isolated area and are not vocal, like Mr. Jim, you are forgotten.”

At the end of this interview, we thanked this Program Partner for being there and for caring so much about her people. The efforts she has made in this needed wood distribution helped a lot of people and opened the door for future care.

SWIRC Winter Fuel - The Forgotten 1 SWIRC Winter Fuel - Hardwood or Hardship 1

SWIRC services provided winter fuel to communities so their Elders would be more comfortable during the long, cold winter months. 

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