No cold elders on Navajo land is the goal. To achieve that it takes team work, git and dedication. Chizh For Cheii (which means: firewood for grandpa in Navajo) has begun it’s 9th season. CFC not only strives to help high risk elders with firewood, we also help out grandma too. Other volunteer CFC initiatives have included yard clean up and small home improvements repairs to winterize for the cold season along with firewood caretaking for the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers and their widow families. Chizh For Cheii began as an idea that turned into a movement of love, hope and inspiration. Last year’s season has never stopped for CFC, as our wood hauling ended covid began to hit Navajo land and communities hard. CFC members quickly transitioned to providing mutual aid in form of giving out hundreds of food boxes, water and cleaning supplies for weeks on end. For several months the CFC team has been preparing for its biggest wood hauling effort in its history. Chizh For Cheii has collaborated with many other non profits to become more efficient in aiding our communities hit by covid and prepare for the winter season. One of our biggest collaboration is with the great people at the Cottonwood Gulch Expeditions organization. During normal circumstances the Cottonwood Gulch provides a variety of services for youth with adventure based team building and life skills. The other big collaboration is with our creator who has provided these great opportunities to join forces with organizations like the Cottonwood Gulch. There organization sits on 550 acres of mountain land with endless amount of trees needing to be cleared. So we are helping one another by reducing fire risk, increasing the conservation of the land while providing a mind blowing amount of firewood for our elders. Nothing has been coincidental in our CFC journey this year. We’ve kept to ourselves and worked hard in silence during the first half of 2020. CFC reason behind that was to protect the peace of our crew and keep the work respectable and honorable. Even those we struggled financially we managed to get to make it through the year. Every week for the past four months we’ve been stockpiling firewood to prepare for distribution. There are no words to truly describe how much physical work goes into building these massive stockpiles. To imply conservation to the land, we must climb mountains sides, hand carry logs or bundles of wood from anywhere to 100 or 400 yards to our stockpile. The “Gulch” is a big area of land with much work to be done. Our group of volunteers have ranged at the most to 30 people but on average we have a solid 9 team members every week. We venture out three days a week and try to do our best to get as much done. We already begun several distribution days to areas like Tohajiilee NM, Pinedale, NM, Tohatchi NM, Lukachukai AZ, Church Rock NM, Shiprock NM and Thoreau NM with over 250 cords of firewood. For those that have been following and supporting CFC over the years, know that years before we’ve taken care of at least 150 elders and families. So already we have surpassed our yearly quota. Which means we’re going above and beyond this season. We collectively like to service all of the eastern and northern agencies of the Navajo reservation with firewood. But we will also help others in need in other parts of the reservation. To do this we need your help. On top of our yearly operational needs we need new equipment to helps us with efficiency and safety. One of the bigger goals is to purchase a much needed work truck that’s reliable and can handle the work duty. We also need a trailer to help move more firewood out to surrounding communities. We are always underfunded but with our creator we have also remained active. When those hard days hit, we are reminded that we are saving lives by keep our relatives warm during the winter. Every contribution and donation is a part of that effort to bring warmth to our elders and families in need. It’s uncertain if we will hit our go fund me goal but just like every season before, we have maximize every dollar to keep us going. would like to thank everyone who has donated in the past, sent us their well wishes and prayers. 2020 has challenged us with so much. Our goal to have no cold elders is a “we” effort. This is our movement. We are in this together.
CFC has always been resourceful and making ends meet no matter the circumstances. Over the years we’ve maximized every donation to its fullest potential. Our needs for this season are similar to the seasons before. Operational cost of fuel, food and repairs have been a daily need for our crew. There’s a breakdown at what we are needing and how your contributions help keep us going this winter season:
Daily Operational Average: $350 per day which includes food and water for our crew, fuel to get to our stockpile sites for a group of 8 crew members.
Days that we have more than that our financial cost rises to $450.
$350 per day multiplied by five work day is $1,750 every week and $7,000 every month. (Note: we’ve been operating since June 2020 for this season, these number don’t count towards the mutual aid we were providing from March 2020 to end of May 2020)
our go fund me as been blowing up recently thanks to all who believe in this direct action of keeping elders warm. Since June until September we’ve been operating underfunded. That’s 3 solid months of providing firewood to elders on our own before this go fund me was created.
we have a long season head of us, our project is to stay in motion until March of 2021. So that’s 6 months of much needed funding which totals $42,000.
Other cost is supplies, we need to stay warm ourselves along with reliable equipment such as chainsaws, axes, sledgehammers, wedges, safety gear like gloves, shields, masks and sanitation supplies. These items aren’t cheap, a new chainsaw alone can run from $700 to $1,200. So our team does need these items. It’s a combine cost of $7,000
another cost we desperately need is a trailer at the very least. We were aiming for a work truck but the clock is ticking and we have tons of wood we need to move out. A new truck, would run the total of $20,000 but if we fix up a few of our older haulers it be about $3000 to maintenance them up to par. Plus getting a trailer to haul wood to residence on the Navajo Nation would be $4000 not included the registration and insurance. We’re hopeful to get something we can use.
even before our go fund me was set up, we have been keeping track of our expenditures via google docs which our core team reviews and we keepupdates on our collaborations. 9 years of transparency has led us to having this trust and support of thousands. For those that donate and want to have more reporting and meet with our team via zoom, sky is the limit. This is a “WE” movement, we are in this together. Thank you everyone for all your support, prayers and just overall reading our mission. Please follow us on Instagram, check out our stories and see the progress.
- Lynette Bonar
- Lee Morgan
- Alva Karlsen
- Karyn S Laitis
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