Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Tue, Sept. 22

Arizona nurses stand in solidarity with Navajo and Hopi neighbors in pandemic

Justin Tapaha from the Special Diabetes program helps offload supplies donated by Arizona nurses from the Navajo and Hopi Community Relief. The supplies were flown into Kayenta, Arizona by the Airserv and Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund Navajo Airbridge program. (Photo courtesy of Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund)

Justin Tapaha from the Special Diabetes program helps offload supplies donated by Arizona nurses from the Navajo and Hopi Community Relief. The supplies were flown into Kayenta, Arizona by the Airserv and Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund Navajo Airbridge program. (Photo courtesy of Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund)

TUBA CITY, Ariz. — The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund recently received a donation of $50,000 donated by four Phoenix nurse counter-protesters.

The donation represents the combined efforts of thousands of Arizonans who saw these nurses stand up for vulnerable patients at the Arizona State Capitol during ‘freedom’ marches in support of an early state reopening.

The nurses — Lauren Leander, Brittany Schilling, Jasmine Bhatti and Jade Juriansz Hicks were photographed at the Capitol wearing their workday scrubs and face masks.

Now they bring that same dignity and solidarity, originally shown during their march at the Capitol to their effort to help Navajo and Hopi families.

Their $50,000 donation will be used by the relief organization to purchase approximately 60 COVID plus isolation kits for Navajo and Hopi individuals diagnosed with virus. The kits contain two weeks’ worth of easy-to-prepare food and vitamins and items to help the recipient better weather symptoms.

Because of overcrowded housing and lack of electricity or running water, the kits also include tents, sleeping bags, hand washing stations, ice chests and battery-operated fans.

“I started the GoFundMe to use the power of our movement to support a patient population that is near and dear to my heart: the people of Navajo Nation.,” said Lauren Leander, lead spokeswoman for the nurse counter-protesters.

Leander said patients at Banner University Medical Center Phoenix’s COVID-19 critical care unit are flown to the hospital from all over the Southwest. She said the nurses have seen how hard the Navajo and Hopi communitis have been impacted by the virus and how much they need the support of their state.

“I hope these funds give Navajo and Hopi families the support and resources they need to continue to self-isolate, hand wash and protect themselves against COVID-19,” she said.

Leander said the power of an organization like the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund is that there is a unique opportunity to even the playing field.

“We have an opportunity to give vulnerable groups an equal chance to fight and survive. We have an opportunity to make health and wellness available to all,” she said.

Just as Leander, Schilling, Bhatti, and Juriansz didn’t anticipate that their day at the Capitol, spent standing up for their patients would inspire thousands to donate.

Likewise, 12 women from the Navajo and Hopi Nations who began organizing to protect their communities from COVID-19 in March had no idea their effort would blossom into the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has funded more than $5.5 million and is backed by nearly 93,000 supporters around the world.

“The only way through this pandemic is by helping each other,” said Cassandra Begay, deputy director for the fund. “And every person has the ability to be a positive agent for change right now, no matter our differences.

Begay said there are communities like the Navajo and Hopi Nations that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic because of what she said is systemic racism and oppression.

“We need more folks to say what these nurses showed with their actions, which is ‘The humanity in me recognizes the humanity in you,’ and then take action,” she said.

In addition to donating 1,000 gowns to the fund, the nurses purchased a total of 80,000 isolation gowns, 40,000 scrub caps and compassionate care items for their fellow medical staff on the front line at Tuba City Regional Health Care Facility, Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility and Kayenta Health Center.

Additionally, chair massagers, Keurigs, coffee pods, clipboards and other items from the nurses were transported to Navajo nurses and doctors through the Navajo & Hopi Families’ Air Bridge Program.

More information or to donate to the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief effort is available on their GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/NHFC19Relief. Donations can also be made via checks made out to Nonprofit Fiscal Services (our new fiscal sponsor as of June 18). Please note in the check subject line that the donation is for “Navajo/Hopi Relief” or “Navajo/Hopi Relief Isolation Kits.” Nonprofit Fiscal Services is located at 623 East 2100 South, Suite B1, Salt Lake City, UT 84106.

Information provided by Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief

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