Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sat, Dec. 14

Diné College hosts elderly appreciation celebration

Miss Dine College, Mercede Johnson of Tsaile, Arizona, talks with a senior citizen during Dine College's second annual Elderly Appreciation Day. (Photo/Dine College)

Miss Dine College, Mercede Johnson of Tsaile, Arizona, talks with a senior citizen during Dine College's second annual Elderly Appreciation Day. (Photo/Dine College)

TSAILE, Ariz — Carmelita Litson wove her way through a throng of student and administrative helpers Nov. 20 as they talked and mingled with dozens of senior citizens gathered for the 2nd annual Elder Appreciation Celebration.

The First-Year Experience (FYE) program at the college, under the direction of Stephanne Jim, hosted the three-hour event at the Student Union Building (SUB).

More than 120 senior citizens from as far away as Rock Point, Lukachukai and Kayenta attended — and took part in mug creations, button making crafts, bird house making, magnet coloring and drawing, bingo and word search games.

“We enjoy and have tremendous love and respect for our grandparents,” Jim said. “The teachings, prayers and love that they give us keep our lives healthy and provide motivation for us to continue with our daily goals and to see a beautiful future. We wanted our students to feel that kind of compassion and energy with the elders.”

The purpose of the event is in line with the college’s observation of the annual Family Day, Jim said. And through her work with the event, Jim said she works with student volunteers in planning and carrying out the event.

Miss Diné College 2019 Mercede Johnson, a freshman public health major from Tsaile, partnered with the FYE program in doing a coat drive for the elders. The participating seniors received gift baskets filled with items such as soap, lip balm, nail clippers, toothpaste and toothbrushes, cleaning wipes, denture adhesive, cleanser and holders.

“It’s something that’s a good thing to do,” Johnson said. “I think the elders very much appreciated being around and talking with the students.”

Event speakers included community veteran David Tsosie.

Tsosie transported a few area community veterans and performed the posting of the colors. Diné College Diné Studies Instructor Wilson Aronilth gave a prayer and song at the event.

Litson, who is from Black Rock, Arizona, said she enjoyed the event and liked communicating with the students and fellow seniors.

“I liked that I got a chance to talk to people who live near me, but I don’t get the chance to see them very often,” she said. Litson is a retired school librarian. “Overall, this was a good experience.”

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