The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Stove Exchange Program in the northeast part of the Navajo Nation, halting nearly every aspect of the program. However, wherever possible, we have found innovative ways to continue helping, such as delivering N95 masks to families in need- dropping them off while staying safely in our vehicle. We have also ramped up our efforts to address questions about the program via the phone, recognizing that this is not an ideal solution for elders and those who have unreliable phone service at their homes.
Families are still grateful for the limited services we can provide. Many still invite us into their homes, but we must sadly decline due to the risks. Recently, an elder resident of Upper Fruitland, NM told me that she lost her daughter, who was a nurse, to the virus. Despite this, she still wanted to thank me for bringing her masks to help stay safe. She was humbled that someone she did not know had the kind heart to help. She explained that even though it was a small amount of money, she just did not have the income to purchase any for herself.
This sharing of kindness and care for one another reminds us that even our simplest acts of service are of great importance and have the power to impact lives. That is the gift that we keep with us, giving us strength as we help others, and ourselves, through times of fear, sadness and loss.