Correction: We’d previously published this article with Ms. Roth’s name misspelled as Ross. We apologize for the error and have since edited the piece to correct that mistake. (My bad! – The Editor)
GRAND JUNCTION, CO – When Teri Roth and Tim Kral of Loma connected with some friends in Silverton, they had no idea that those friends would introduce them to another couple, Lucy and Jack, who would change their lives. Lucy and Jack are Navajo and live in the Navajo Nation, located in the Four Corners area overlapping Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
Covid-19 has ravaged large parts of the United States in the past couple of weeks, and one of the most devastated regions is the Navajo reservation.
“[Our friends] introduced us to Lucy and Jack,” Roth recalled, “and because of the Covid-19, it has hit the Navajo Nation horribly hard.”
As of today, the Navajo Nation has a total of 7,981 positive cases. They’ve recorded 382 Covid-related deaths. Starting Easter weekend, Navajo officials had instituted weekend-long curfews that imposed strict limits on movement outside one’s home. On top of that is their ongoing struggle to access basic amenities like clean running water, paved roads, and electricity. Partly because of American officials’ disregard for tribal water rights, the lack of water access has exacerbated the tragedy of the pandemic. After all, when one of the most basic methods of virus prevention is washing one’s hands, not having adequate water supplies can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Roth and her husband may not have much influence over these longstanding fights over water, but they do have access to something else: abundant supplies that are in short supply in the locked-down reservation.
“Because of the dynamics of where they’re at, their shopping is very limited,” Roth said. “They don’t have access to a lot of the supplies that they need, so we kind of took it upon ourselves to help. Last month we took a van load down to Jack and Lucy.”
Roth and Kral had filled their white van to the brim with supplies they purchased themselves and some that they’d received from local donations. Think of all the things that were once so scarce at grocery and big box stores just two months ago, but which are now mostly back on the shelves: toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, liquid soaps.
“We’re all doing our social distancing — no contact with them whatsoever. They had like the size of a half of a card table out ready for supplies.”
According to Roth, when Lucy delivered some supplies to the tribal elders, “they were very curious about why we want to help them because nobody’s helping them.”
With the reservation still in lockdown, Roth and Kral make the trip — roughly five hours in each direction — in one day.
The couple plan to make the roughly five-hour one-way trip again on July 15 and continue to collect donations. They also hope to pay another visit in August, just in time to deliver school supplies, and maybe one more “before the snows come back.”
“You talk about heartwarming and gut wrenching and touching your heart and making you feel good,” Roth said. “I guess for me nothing has touched me like this, ever.”
If you’d like to make a donation, here’s a list of the most-needed supplies:
- Ben Gay or an equivalent
- Vicks Rub or an equivalent
- Disinfectant spray
- Cough Drops
- Hand Sanitizer
- Disposable gloves (sizes M, L)
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Trash bags
- Clorox wipes
- Liquid hand soap
- Baby wipes for sensitive skin
- Any type of wipes
- 81 mg Aspirin
Donations can be dropped off at the Western Colorado Area Health Education Center, 2938 North Ave. #B Grand Junction, Colorado 81504, but they must be received by Friday, July 10. The Downtown Vineyard Church at 402 Grand Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501, is also collecting donations for the trip.