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Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

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As of today (November 23, 2020), there are 15,039 positive cases of COVID-19 and 631 total confirmed deaths on the Navajo Reservation. This marks a spike of over 2,200 cases in 12 days on Navajo.  Numbers are also on the rise on the Hopi Reservation, and both tribal governments have placed their communities in lockdown again. Our relief effort is the primary relief effort providing assistance on both reservations.  We have already deployed roughly $6 million in direct relief in both communities, which has us nearing depletion of existing GoFundMe donations.  We need a second wave of donations to help us meet the second wave--tsunami, really--of COVID that is inundating our communities. 

To date, the Relief Fund has raised over $6 million, and has spent almost all of that on bringing vital resources to Navajo and Hopi communities to help shield them from COVID. The team and a legion of hundreds of Navajo and Hopi volunteers all over the two nations has provided food and water to over 46,000 households (each roughly averaging 4 persons per household, and amounting to over 186,000 people served—which is more than the combined population of the Navajo and Hopi Reservations) in 335 distributions in over 530 Navajo communities and Hopi Villages.

The Relief Fund currently seeks to raise enough funding to carry Navajo and Hopi families through this second wave, through the cold and flu season, and to the end of the COVID pandemic in these communities. We estimate needing $6.5 million in order to meet that goal, so we have now adjusted our GoFundMe campaign goal to $13 million total.

By donating, you will help the most heavily impacted community in the USA.  For $100, you will help a family of four by providing them with 2 weeks’ worth of food and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  For as little as $10, you can help feed a family of 4 for an entire day.  Donate today to the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.

The Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation are extreme food deserts with only 14 grocery stores on the two reservations to serve some 180,000 people who live in a territory larger than West Virginia, or larger than the combined area of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.  These communities have high numbers of elderly, diabetic, asthmatic, and cancer-afflicted (i.e., high risk) individuals.  One-third of the people living on these two reservations do not have running water, and another third don't have electricity.  These communities could be devastated by COVID-19.  

Our relief effort prioritizes those at highest risk of complications if they contract COVID, and the most vulnerable:  the elderly, immunocompromised, mobility impaired, and families with children but inadequate income (roughly half of the people living on the two reservations are unemployed; 45.5 percent of Navajo families with children live in poverty, and 14.9 percent live in extreme poverty). 

We provide our beneficiaries with food, water, PPE, health supplies, cleaning supplies and other essential items (like toiletries) they need to weather this pandemic.  The need is so great.  Please give if you can.  

Each week since April 12 we have consistently brought $150,000 to $200,000 worth of food, water, PPE, and cleaning supplies to 15 to 20 Navajo and Hopi communities (each Kinship Care Package we hand out consists of 2 weeks’ worth of these materials). We have deployed over $4,060,196 in direct purchases of food and over $565,500 in PPE in Navajo and Hopi communities. We are currently in the process of deploying another $800,000 in PPE Kit supplies and 17 tons of coal for an elders heating program and will continue distributing the PPE Kits through the end of February.

We sanitize all items before we distribute them, and we have a rigorous health and safety training for all of our staff and volunteers.  We are mostly all volunteers with 33 team leaders that each lead a team of 5-8 volunteers in the Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona portions of the Navajo Nation and on Hopi (located in Arizona).   Our 6 staff members are compensated through use of grant funding.  We do not use any of our individual donations through GoFundMe or made through our fiscal sponsor to compensate staff. 

We bring our direct relief items by truck to Navajo and Hopi where our teams sanitize them and assemble Kinship Care Packages (include 2 weeks of food, water, PPE, health items, and cleaning supplies) or PPE Kits (include a container of 75-count Clorox wipes, 50-count 3-ply masks, and 8 oz. of gel hand sanitizer).  We distribute our food through contactless drive-thru or home deliveries.  We also provide immediate assistance to COVID-positive families in isolation or COVID-exposed families in quarantine by providing food and Isolation Kits (the Isolation Kits are extensive and include things like vitamins, tissue paper, cough drops, sleeping bags, etc.).

We are also helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 on these reservations by engaging some 300 volunteers to sew masks for medical workers and first responders on Navajo and Hopi. We use donated funds to help purchase the fabric for these masks.  Through the masterful coordination of our Super Volunteer and now Logistics Coordinator, Theresa Hatathlie-Delmar, we have facilitated the transfer of some 73,441 masks, surgical gowns, bunny suits, and bootie covers to Navajo and Hopi community members and first responders. 

We also receive and distribute in-kind donations.  For example, 48,000 cans of water from Jason Momoa and Mananalu, and 8 tons of canned water from Can’d Aid.  Through the Airbridge program held in collaboration with Air Serv International (in their first domestic relief operation) we were able to fly over 48,000 pounds of PPE and other relief items to remote Navajo and Hopi communities in July and August.

We also use your donations to run a public education campaign urging folks to stay home, socially distance, and take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  These materials are on posters displayed in places of business all over the Navajo Nation and regularly run in 1-page ads in the Navajo Times.  Our Hopi material is under development and is poised for circulation in early December.

We are a grassroots indigenous women-led group; we are not a government.  Given the amazing support for this effort, and the need to combat future pandemics and climate change threats to our communities, we formed a nonprofit under Utah state law (Yee Ha'olnii Doo d/b/a Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund) and are in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status.  Yee Ha'onii Doo expends our funds and operates under the supervision of a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor (Nonprofit Legal Services of Utah d/b/a Nonprofit Fiscal Services).  All funds raised prior to September 25th were deposited with Rural Utah Project (our original fiscal sponsor).  The funds from this campaign will be used to make direct purchases, or reimbursement of purchases by volunteers, of bulk food and medical items, and other purchases made on behalf of our beneficiaries, such as water, food from supermarkets, PPE, and other items necessary to keep our beneficiaries socially distanced, and our public education campaign.  This campaign is not associated with the Navajo Nation government (or the official Navajo Nation government’s fundraising campaign on GoFundMe) or the Hopi Tribe.  Instead, this fundraiser is an initiative of Yee Ha'oolniidoo, a grassroots, indigenous-led, nonprofit organization.   As of two weeks ago, the Navajo Nation had not expended any of its private donations raised through GoFundMe.

Fundraising team (4)

Ethel Branch
Flagstaff, AZ
Mary Francis
Cassandra Begay
Team member
Vanessa Tulley
Team member

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