The center usually had a crowd of 40 congregate and 20 home-delivered meals that went out to homebound Elders.
We recently visited with Alberta, supervisor of the Cove Senior Center.
According to the Chapter’s webpage, “The Cove Community is located in a remote and isolated area, surrounded by the Lukachukai and Carrizo Mountains. The Chapter is located in one of the most scenic areas of the Navajo Nation. The Chapter House is about 42 Miles from U.S. Highway 491 and 10 miles West of Red Valley, Arizona on Navajo Route 33.”
The webpage description does not disappoint! It is so vibrant — and the people are as kind and generous as the landscape is scenic.
The drive through the Lukachukai Mountains climbs steadily to the highest point over 8,400’ above sea level. The road then winds down the mountain and lands in Red Valley, AZ (formerly Red Rock). It’s clear to see where Red Valley got its name. Cove is another 10 minutes from the intersection that connects the small community to the Red Valley trading post and gas station. A full grocery store is further away in Shiprock, more than 40 minutes away from Cove.
Mutton and vegetable soup, wheat frybread, and melon were on the menu for the day.
Alberta was busy cooking the lunchtime meal when we arrived. The menu: Mutton and vegetable soup, wheat frybread, and melon. The center had over 110 Elders who are signed up for services. They usually had a crowd of 40 congregate and 20 home-delivered meals that went out to homebound Elders. We arrived too late to get in the pre-meal walk that the Elders enjoyed with one of the staff, but stayed for the bingo game that followed the delicious meal using the meat of choice among many Navajo.
Irvin is the bus driver who picks up and returns the Elders to and from their home. He used to be Cove Chapter President, following in the footsteps of his father, but likes the job he has now being of service to the Elders of his community. He drives a suburban-like vehicle to get Elders through the red dirt/clay roads that are scattered throughout the area, branching off the main paved highway like spokes in a wheel.
A large map in the center provided additional warnings to residents of the wells that had been sampled and exceeded the maximum contaminant levels for safe consumption.
The conversation with the Elders centered around another meeting that would be held that following day at the Chapter House which sat adjacent to the Senior Center.
The EPA would be present to give an update of the water issues that have plagued the community due to Uranium mining.
Alberta pointed out a couple of Elder women and shared that they were “Uranium Widows” — meaning that their husbands had passed because of the tragic health consequences of working the mines. Many of the Elders that were at the center were going to attend the meeting.
Signs were posted at both the Chapter house, the Senior Center and even a sign on the intersection on the paved road. Another large map in the center provided additional warnings to residents of the wells that had been sampled and exceeded the maximum contaminant levels for safe consumption. Unfortunately, these types of maps were evident in most Senior Centers.
Somehow, even with these health warnings, the center were a safe and cozy place to find comfort and nutrition among friends and family.
Thank you for helping to make this service possible!