On Monday, May 16, the Chinle Chapter Government hosted an appreciation luncheon to recognize the Phase I and Phase II relief efforts of the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.
“Chinle Chapter wanted to say thank you and show our appreciation to the staff from Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund,” said Chinle Chapter President Rosanna Jumbo-Fitch. “We’re very appreciative of the staff who participated in helping our community and surrounding chapters.”
During the Relief Fund’s Phase I and Phase II relief efforts, the Chinle Chapter Government stepped forward as a critical partner to assist relief efforts by mobilizing volunteers through their partnership with AmeriCorps, serving as a central distribution hub, and organizing food and PPE distributions throughout their Chapter region and beyond.
At the luncheon, Relief Fund Executive Director Ethel Branch told the Chapter that it was an honor to work with them.
“You are the best examples of what it means to be Diné. You were our frontline warriors putting your health on the line,” Branch said. “What you did was historic and selfless. You committed to taking care of our health and wellbeing, our children, our elders, and our immunocompromised. All of this wouldn’t have happened without Chinle Chapter.”
According to Relief Fund Deputy Director Cassandra Begay, much of the success of the relief effort can be attributed to the Chinle Chapter, who helped organize and lead food and PPE distributions.
“Honestly, they are the MVPs and heroes who helped protect and save many Navajo and Hopi lives during the pandemic,” Begay said. “I’m truly honored to have worked together with Chinle Chapter for two years. The work of the Relief Fund wouldn’t have been possible without this strategic partnership, their selfless acts of service to our community, hard work, and dedication.”
Chinle Chapter Vice President Shawna Claw said that everyone who assisted the relief efforts as a volunteer became a leader.
“You saw the need, you knew the people, and you cared enough to deliver food and PPE to them,” Claw said. “People look up to you as leaders in your community.”
Relief Fund Logistics Coordinator and Arizona Senator for Legislative District 7, Theresa Hatathlie spoke virtually at the luncheon and said the Relief Fund started with one goal.
“We wanted to make sure that our relatives, our children, parents, and grandchildren would be safe,” Senator Hatathlie said. “Our matrilineal teachings and our ancestral knowledge had been brought forth.”
Claw recognized the role of indigenous matriarchy in the foundation of the Relief Fund.
“It was the women who organized everyone. That’s the role of the woman,” she said. “That’s what we do in the home, and it came naturally for these women to take on these roles.”
Branch commended Chinle Chapter for their high-service delivery approach to dispersing food and PPE to the communities.
“You all gave 200% and it was non-stop,” she said. “You made it happen and you were there in the trenches. Thank you for giving me the honor of serving our people.”