by Mark Hall
It’s been a busy spring and summer for Red Feather. We’ve been making a meaningful impact with our case management program, the Native Home Resource Network. The program attempts to help families with their housing needs, leveraging as many resources as possible that exist within the family and community before supplementing those with resources Red Feather and its network can locate outside the community. Please read Joe’s articles about some of the successes we are seeing with this program and others.
This Memorial Day we took a small break from helping with housing to join our partner, Western Navajo Agency Veterans Administration, hosting an event to honor departed veterans. Native Americans have the highest percentage of people serving in the military - more than any other ethnic group in the United States. This is partly because of lack of jobs in their communities, but also because of their strong warrior traditions. There is a tremendous amount of respect and honor bestowed upon those that are willing to sacrifice their own lives for others.
Thanks to a grant from APS, material donations from Home Depot, and labor and planning support from a group of Honor Riders and other members of the Tuba City community, we repainted the exterior of the Veterans office, spruced up the surrounding area, and hosted a memorial ceremony and lunch for Veterans and their families.
The ceremony that began with a sunrise prayer and raising of flags, included over 200 names of deceased Veterans being added to a memorial wall. It was a day filled with emotional speeches. Tears could be seen on even the most stoic faces.
With so many from these Native communities making the ultimate sacrifice - for us -it gives me even greater resolve to help with their urgent housing needs. My hope by sharing this is that it will compel you to ask yourself what more you can do. Would you consider putting Red Feather in your estate plans? If you are interested in discussing this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
by Joe Seidenberg
Many hands make light work at the sight of the Sherlock's new home.
Over the course of the past year Red Feather staff have been busy developing and delivering our Native Home Resource Network (NHRN). NHRN is a case management program that helps Navajo and Hopi families resolve their own home health and safety risks. Case managers work directly with the families to first prioritize the most urgent housing needs and then determine what resources the family is able to provide. Once the needed resources are identified we leverage our national network of materials manufacturers, government agencies, and individual donors for funding; and we leverage our local network of professional contractors for implementation.
The primary benefit of the program is to empower families to make their own homes safer and healthier. The other benefit of the program is that by hiring or referring professional tradespeople from the community to implement the repairs, we are assisting with economic development.
Thanks to grants from Arizona Community Foundation and Wells Fargo we have completed the following:
Jeanette's new roof
From left: Bradford, Delridge and Wilfred, the Hopi weatherization crew
by Ellary Kramka
The task of summing up my year with Red Feather in one article (it’s already been one year?!) seems nearly impossible to do. So, rather than try to cover everything, I will share a few highlights of what it was like to serve with this organization for the last year.
When I started my Americorps VISTA service with Red Feather, they were knee deep in the renovation of Bilford Curley’s home. I had spent the weeks leading up to my first day researching the connection between the home environment and holistic health, and seeing the transformation in the life of the Curley family after the project was completed only confirmed what I already knew: that a home can change everything. I saw firsthand (through repeated follow up visits with the family) the way the four Curley children flourished in a new way in their home, and witnessing this fueled my passion for Red Feather’s work for the remainder of my year of service.
It was this passion that pushed me to spend a lot of time producing an annual report for Red Feather. It was the first annual report to be released since 2013, and I felt strongly that the stories of the last two years needed to be shared. Producing an annual report that covered two plus years was difficult, but it was completely worth my while. The best part? The grateful, excited, joyful response from our partners and supporters. After the annual report was mailed, Red Feather received note after note rejoicing with us over the small victories we have humbly been a part of in the fight for healthy homes on reservations. Many notes acknowledged what we at Red Feather also know to be true: weatherization, do-it-yourself repairs, and home renovations are important work. Again, my passion was fueled for my work.
In January, I helped facilitate a partnership between Red Feather and Energy Corps. I was privileged to spend a few days on the Northern Cheyenne reservation with 13 Energy Corps members as they weatherized 26 homes for the winter. Yes, the chance to provide 26 families with tools to stay warmer in the winter was amazing, but that wasn’t the best part of the Weatherization Blitz. The best part was sitting with the Energy Corps members in the kitchens of the homes we weatherized, talking with moms and dads and kids. We were served cookies and coffee and story after story of temporary housing with no insulation (in Montana!) being declared a sufficient permanent home. These stories stuck not only with me, but with the Energy Corps members. I know that they carry these stories in their hearts, and that they now share my passion for this work.
Overall, whether I was in someone’s home installing outlet gaskets, or sitting in the office compiling data metrics, my year with Red Feather has taught me that quiet, humble work can achieve great things, and that perseverance and adaptability are paramount to the fight for a more just world.
It has been a life changing year for me with Red Feather, and I have learned so much. What a gift it was to serve with this organization, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to take what I have learned and use it in my next life chapter.
by Mark Hall
Thanks to funding from APS, we delivered another successful Women’s Do-It-Yourself Home Repair Workshop to 14 Hopi and Tewa women in Kykotsmovi this June. The class is so popular that it quickly filled up to capacity with only word-of-mouth advertising. In fact, there was so much interest, we created a waiting list and are now looking for additional funding to offer the class again this fall.
The first day of the class was spent in the classroom learning about tool and construction safety, how to take measurements, and some basic carpentry skills. The ladies each constructed a wooden toolbox to practice their skills and to carry the $200 worth of tools that each student received upon completion of the class.
The second day of the workshop was spent at one student’s home in the nearby Village of Bacavi. The 14 students, 2 professional weatherization experts from Cozy Home LLC, and 2 instructors from Red Feather, visited Melva Calnimptewa’s home to learn how to perform real and practical home repairs. The projects not only provided an opportunity for the students to learn, but were also a tremendous benefit to Melva and her family. Among the projects completed, we replaced the decking on a wheelchair ramp, fixed her broken front stairs and handrails, put up a large shade screen to block the afternoon sun from entering the main living area, repaired a roof leak, replaced some damaged drywall, and sealed numerous air leaks throughout the home.
The next day when asked whether the shade screen was helping, Melva said it was a little difficult for her to notice, because the temperatures that day were well over 100, but that all the neighborhood dogs were now sleeping on her shaded porch.
Photos courtesy of APS and Loren Anderson www.lorenandersonphoto.com
by Eli Chamberlain
Summer is here and its hotter than ever. Keeping your home cool in the summer can be a real challenge, particularly if you don’t have air conditioning. At Hopi and Navajo very few households have air conditioning so it’s important to know how to keep cool without AC.
It may sound obvious but the most important way to keep your house cool is to keep the heat out during the day. Heat enters the home through two primary pathways, windows and attic spaces. Windows allow wanted daylight in but can also let heat in when they are in direct sunlight. Shading the window on the exterior is the most cost effective option for reducing solar heat gain. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways but shade screens are the most popular. Shade screens look like normal screens but they cover the entire window on the outside. The screen material is a little thicker than a normal screen which helps block up to 80% of the solar energy striking the window but still allows good visibility looking out. Shade screens are also removable to allow wanted solar heat gain in winter. Windows that use Low-E or Low Emissivity coatings reflect the solar energy striking the window to keep the house cooler. Low-E windows will also block wanted solar heat gain during the winter months so they may not be the best option for year round comfort. Using blinds and other interior window coverings do not help nearly as much as exterior shading. By the time the solar energy reaches the interior window covering it is already inside the window and is heating the house up. Other ways to shade windows on the exterior are with awnings, exterior shutters or even plants.
Attic temperatures can reach 150 degrees during hot summer days. If there is not an adequate thermal barrier between the inside of your house and the attic space much of this heat will transfer to the interior of the house. Insulation provides this thermal barrier to keep the attic heat out during the summer and the warm air inside your home during the winter. As a general rule of thumb you should have at least one foot of insulation in your attic and it should be evenly distributed. Compressed or missing insulation can create easy pathways for heat transfer to bypass other areas that are well insulated. Skylight shafts, attic accesses, and vertical “knee walls” that separate attic space from living space are all frequently over looked when insulating. An infrared camera on a hot day is a great tool to locate insufficient or missing insulation. A properly installed layer of insulation can make a dramatic effect on the comfort of your home year round.
Airing your house out in the evenings and then closing the windows during the day can help to keep the heat out. A simple box fan placed in a window pointing out will do a great job of cooling the house off at night. Ceiling fans also help to keep you cooler but they don’t actually cool the room down. As the ceiling fan pushes air across your skin it makes you feel cooler by pulling heat off of your body. This can also be a very cost effective way to feel cooler but remember to shut the ceiling fan off when you leave the room because it won’t actually cool the room off.
If upgrading your attic insulation and shading your windows is still not enough to keep your house cool, then you might want to consider an AC unit. The most economical option is a window unit that is easily to install and remove. Central AC units are much more expensive but do a better job of keeping temperatures even throughout the house. Air conditioners have SEER ratings which show how efficient they are at removing heat from your home. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit is.
It is sometimes difficult to determine what the best and most cost-effective options are to keep your house cool. A professional Home Energy Auditor can help you make these decisions so you don’t waste your money on something that won’t help you.
Photos courtesy of APS and Loren Anderson www.lorenandersonphoto.com
by Joe Seidenberg
In our last newsletter, we highlighted Red Feather’s recent efforts to help elders live their remaining years in their own homes. The project is enabled thanks to a strong partnership we have with Dr Lisa Jane Hardy and her department at Northern Arizona Univertisty, the Center for American Indian Resilience. We are working together with the Hopi Office of Aging and Adult Services, Village Elder Programs, and interested community members to deliver a pilot of the program across Hopi. Funding was provided through a grant we won from Kendal Charitable Foundation. We are very honored and grateful to have been selected out of nearly 100 applicants for this grant.
Our objectives for this pilot are to develop a training that teaches those taking care of elders how to assess homes for aging in place needs and instruct occupants on how to remedy basic problems. After the training, 24 households will receive comprehensive assessments along with $250 to spend on do-it-yourself home interventions, such as mobility and bathroom accessibility enhancements, or measures to improve indoor air quality. Families will also be provided with a series of educational resources that empower them to create healthier living environments. Red Feather plans to leverage our Native Home Resource Network for households that have repairs that go beyond DIY interventions and/or lack the resources to manage their own home repairs.
Red Feather believes that community engagement is critical to developing effective programs. In a recent listening session with over 70 Hopi elders we asked about the most pressing housing needs they have that inhibit their ability to age in place. We also asked them to list things that help them to be happy and well in their homes. A few of the highlights from this discussion included:
· When elders think about the challenges they face they consider structural needs like accessible bathing and mobility ramps in addition to major repair needs like leaking roofs, mold remediation or stove replacement.
· Bathing can be difficult for all elders, but even more so for those living without running water or electricity in their homes. Walk-in showers, tall toilets, plumbing, grab bars, etc. are needed at public bathing facilities to provide increased independence and safety.
· Many elders talked about the social aspects of their lives, like having friends and family come to visit, being even more important to aging in place than improvements to the home environment.