Thankful Amidst a Pandemic
The Pisinemo Senior Center Staff loading Individual Thanksgiving Meal Boxes to be delivered to Elders.
When Mike heard the Pisinemo Senior Center (the facility he supervises) had been approved to receive Partnership With Native American’s (PWNA's) SouthWwest Reservation Aid (SWRA) Thanksgiving meals for his Seniors, he was excited to receive this special service. “Thank you — that is GREAT NEWS. God bless you all for the great work and caring hearts you have for Native Americans. This will be greatly appreciated.”
The Pisinemo Senior Center has been a regular partner of PWNA over the years and in the last five years alone, they have received an average of 10 shipments each year from the trucks traveling to the southern Arizona/Mexico border. The services are a bit different this year, but the need is greater when protecting the residents of a remote tribal community faced with double the hospitalization rate (16%) compared with the state (Arizona) rate of 8%. The tribe is also experiencing double the COVID-19 death rates compared to the state: 4% to 2% respectively. The difference between 2020, and all the years prior of being a PWNA program partner, is 40% of their shipments have been requested to support their COVID-19 related activities. This is in an effort to protect their most cherished resource, their Elders.
Elders were grateful to be able to still have a Thanksgiving meal while staying safe.
The attempt of protection comes from not just the small community of Pisinemo, but the Tohono O’odham Nation itself. In a pre-empt effort to protect their nation, the tribal government issued a Memorandum on November 10th: Thanksgiving Holiday Restrictions and Exceptions. It reaffirmed the prohibition of a previous executive order on Social Gatherings, except for those attendees that reside in the same household. The tribe also recognized that there may be some that are alone during the holidays and provided an exception to make sure those individuals would have a meal or have an invite that would follow COVID-19 distancing guidelines. The tribe acknowledges that one day they will be able to “engage and embrace again” but, for now, “the health of our people remains our top priority”.
After Mike received the approval for turkeys and the fixings in late September, the birds and accompaniments were delivered to the senior center on November 20th and the food items were assembled and delivered by Mike and his cadre of dedicated staff and volunteers.
Mike shared, “the elders have a hard time expressing themselves, but they are very grateful and appreciative.”
Along with the Thanksgiving holiday meal boxes, SWRA provided "reflection sheets" for the Elders to voluntarily complete. You can read the Elder's responses to the Reflection sheets here: Pisinemo Reflections. Mike submitted the completed sheets and some photos right before the holiday and sent a message to SWRA in his report:
The note reads : "Thank you PWNA you made so many of our Elders smile in a time of difficulty. I appreciate all of your hard work. It does not go unnoticed-God Bless You All"