KGLP Slide Show

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New home constructed for Navajo elder through community effort

New home constructed for Navajo elder through community effort

FT. DEFIANCE-Navajo elder Yvondra Wauneka has a new home, thanks to the efforts of the Ft. Defiance Chapter and local community resources. Wauneka’s home site is in the remote areas of the chapter boundaries, high in the hills of the Blue Canyon area, four miles off the main road.

A retired nurse, Wauneka has been living in substandard housing for 15 years, while suffering from a variety of chronic medical conditions. Lack of familial support and loneliness only aggravated these conditions for the senior citizen.

Stanley Yazzie, deputy director for Division of Community Development (DCD), said the joint efforts of the chapter, Indian Health Services (IHS), Southwest Indian Foundation (SWIF) and DCD have made the new home possible. “The chapter coordinator Dorothy Upshaw played a key role in making sure the house was built,” Yazzie said. “It is now 90 percent completed.”

DCD worked to ensure the chapter was purchasing materials and providing manpower for the construction. Carpenters from the chapter’s Personnel Employment Program completed the construction, including activation of the waterline in the home. Presently, Wauneka still needs electrical line connection to the one-bedroom, one-bathroom home.

“The assistance of Dr. Alvarez and others from IHS is greatly appreciated. Their help is indicative of commitment and dedication of professional staff, they go beyond their daily work to assist families,” Yazzie said.

Community services coordinator Dorothy Upshaw said Wauneka first approached the chapter for housing 15 years ago and that an assessment was completed by the Navajo Environmental Protection Agency. EPA deemed her living conditions very poor.

The chapter did their own assessment of Wauneka’s living conditions and found that she was living with her 18 sheep and 12 dogs. During the assessment, Wauneka said her family was unable to help because of a lack of funds and other commitments.

“Currently, she is in Payson doing rehabilitation for strength and learning to take care of herself,” Upshaw said. She added that the home has been in development for years, but the major block to timely completion was the lack of funding.

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