Navajo Strong – Empowering the citizens of the Navajo Nation with essential supplies
Last weekend, like the two previous weekends before, Bud Frazier was out delivering critical supplies to dozens of families in the Navajo Nation.
Without physical addresses in very remote places, it was difficult to find the families who had reached out to Frazier for help. But when he finds them, he knows the effort – donations brought in from across the state, volunteers assembling and sanitizing supplies, and the far distances traveled – is all worth it.
“What I love about what we’re doing is we’re taking it right to the people who need it,” said Frazier. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s satisfying to drop the stuff off. People have tears of joy, and they’re very thankful. I’m so happy we can help.”
The process starts back up as soon as he returns to Utah Valley. Word of the critical supply drops he’s organized has spread through communities in the Navajo Nation. Many people message him for help, including Chapter Officials.
The messages are heartbreaking, he says. So many people are short on food, water, and basic necessities.
One family didn’t have a car, and no one would pick up hitchhikers because of the virus. The family didn’t have a way to get groceries and basic necessities while quarantined.
Frazier’s own family has been profoundly affected by COVID-19. His mother, Blanding resident Teresa Frazier, has lost two uncles and an aunt to the virus.
Many family members have battled the illness and others have been quarantined without electricity or running water.
Bud Frazier messaged his former employer, Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS), and asked if they could help families in Tonalea.
But Tonalea is in Arizona and outside the service area for UNHS.
Frazier reflected on his experiences visiting family on the reservation and knew how hard it would be to get supplies. His own grandparents lived without running water their entire lives.
Frazier’s background in healthcare also gave him a heightened sense of urgency to help families in need. He said, “As a nurse, I’ve been in critical care for seven years. I know what it’s like to take care of ventilated patients and how traumatic and scary it can be.
“When you take care of ventilated patients, you don’t forget it. People don’t realize when it hits, it’s bad. It takes a toll on critical care.”
Frazier shared a few of these details – including the COVID-19 deaths in his own family – in a Facebook post. His network responded and signaled that they wanted to help. And the idea for #NavajoStrong was born.
Frazier came up with #NavajoStrong with his family. The Curtis and Teresa Frazier family of Blanding are known for their willingness to serve and help others.
The vision of #NavajoStrong is to empower the people to fight this disease and other long-term illnesses. Having the necessary supplies would empower the families to be better prepared to battle the virus.
The Frazier plan was to collect and purchase supplies that were more accessible in Utah Valley, then take the supplies to families in the Navajo Nation.
Word of the effort got out before Frazier made his first delivery. He was featured on television on Fox 13 News on April 22. The story ran throughout the morning and was on the front page of the website all day.
The response from that story brought in more volunteers, supplies, and monetary donations from all over the United States. In Frazier’s first run to Tonalea that weekend, eight trucks with trailers made their way down to the Navajo Nation.
They carried critical supplies: firewood, food, water, cleaning supplies, toiletries, paper towels, masks, dog food, baby wipes, diapers, shovels, brooms, axes, and more.
The best part? Aid went directly to families.
The effort continued to snowball. More families needed help and more donations poured in. Groups from Enterprise, Cedar City, and Saint George each sent a truckload of supplies.
People from Eagle Mountain, Lehi, Ogden, and Layton volunteered to take firewood and supplies down. Experienced shoppers volunteered to buy hard-to-find items.
Costa Vida donated bulk orders of pinto beans and flour. Dee’s Restaurant ordered and donated a bulk order of bleach. Another local company donated hand and surface sanitizer.
After a full week of coordination between families needing help and those wanting to help, Frazier and a few volunteers make the trek down to Blanding each Friday with truckloads of supplies.
With the help of his family and volunteers from Blanding, the supplies are assembled into separate bins for dozens of Navajo Nation families.
Frazier has lists of specific needs that each family has, whether it’s pet food or diapers, so the families get what they need.
Frazier is also fastidious about sanitizing the essential supplies being delivered. With his healthcare background he knows how to keep the supplies free of contamination and trains his volunteers to do the same.
He also has protective gear for the individuals who are making deliveries. He takes every precaution he can.
Early each Saturday morning, Frazier starts dropping off the essential supply bins to the families in need.
It’s a long process and the remote location of many homes make it difficult to find the addresses of the families needing a drop. When he finds the home, he drops the bin off outside and texts the family to let them know it has arrived.
Families receiving a bin say it’s “like Christmas,” and express deep appreciation. Frazier says he’s glad he can help.
“The communities in Utah are the ones who stepped up and helped and donated so much. They don’t ask for recognition; I’m just blessed to take what they are giving and give it to others. So many people are eager to help. It’s definitely a community effort,” he said.
So far, supply drops have been made in Leupp, Chilchinbito, Kaibito, Tonalea, Kayenta, Tuba City, AZ, and Navajo Mountain.
Frazier, his family, and the volunteers aren’t done yet. After making over 150 supply drops to individual families, community drops to Chilchinbito, Leupp, Kaibito, and deliveries of firewood throughout, there are still families that need help.
As long as there are people in need and donations come in, Frazier and crew will continue to serve as many families as they can.
Long term, Frazier says he would love to be part of an organization that would empower the Navajo people to get running water, power, and access to quality health care.
“I just think of people like my grandmas and grandpas who lived in poverty, and I want to help.”