Working nonstop to help bring necessary medical supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the Barry and Peggy Goldwater Foundation has partnered with Blok Industries to donate and deliver approximately 20,000 hazmat suits to the Navajo and Hopi tribes.
A hazmat suit is an impermeable whole-body garment that responders can wear as protection against the COVID-19 virus.
The Navajo Nation, which covers more than 27,000 square miles in New Mexico, northern Arizona and Utah, is third only to New York and New Jersey in the nation’s declared COVID-19 hot spots, according to a press release.
U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater’s granddaughter, Alison Goldwater Ross, founded the Barry and Peggy Goldwater Foundation, a nonprofit corporation qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, in 2017, to digitize, curate, restore and preserve Mr. Goldwater’s extensive collection of 15,000 negatives and 25 miles of historical images primarily of Arizona’s native people and landscapes.
Upon learning the coronavirus was hitting the Hopi and Navajo tribes the hardest, Ms. Ross pivoted the focus of the foundation and reached out to find resources for aid.
“We are determined to do everything in our power to help fight this scourge that is an indescribable tragedy. That is why we have set up a special Barry & Peggy Goldwater Foundation relief fund at goldwaterfoundation.org/covid-19-relief-mission to assist with our efforts,” Ms. Ross said in a prepared statement.
The foundation’s efforts have been made possible by Blok Industries, a safety and disaster relief supplier headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia. Ms. Ross’s husband and legal counsel for Blok, Robert Arkin connected Ms. Ross with Karen Davidson, Blok’s president.
When Ms. Davidson learned of the reservation’s casualty count eclipsing that of states with much larger populations without a corresponding influx of aid, she sprang into action.
“I knew this was something we had to do,” Ms. Davidson said in a prepared statement. “We at Blok couldn’t stand by knowing the urgent need when we could make the hazmat suits available immediately.”
Working fast, the suits were transported from Blok’s warehouse in Mobile, Alabama, for distribution to the Navajos and Hopis. The foundation’s first stop was Gallup, New Mexico where suits were distributed to Navajo Area Indian Health Services (NAIHS) which serve five NAIHS hospitals.
Next, the foundation’s team traveled to the Navajo Division of Public Safety in Window Rock, AZ, to distribute the suits to police, correction officers, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
Hope MacDonald-LoneTree, former Navajo Nation Presidential candidate, two-term Navajo Nation Councilwoman (ToNaneesDizi/Coalmine Canyon), and daughter of past Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald, worked directly with Ms. Ross and the foundation team on the logistics of delivering the hazmat suits.
Ms. Ross reached out to Ms. LoneTree because of the personal and professional history between Barry Goldwater and Peter MacDonald.
“As longtime friends, my grandfather and Peter MacDonald had a mutual respect for one another,” Ms. Ross said. “Because of this relationship, Hope was the first person I reached out to.”
According to Ms. LoneTree, the pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the communities.
“My heart has been heavy for the past couple of weeks because many friends and family have been affected by the pandemic. We have lost too many people and our public health and public safety services were not equipped to address the problems we are experiencing in such a crisis,” Ms. LoneTree said.
“The generous and heartfelt donation by Blok Industries and the Goldwater Foundation has been a godsend. Our public health workers and public safety personnel can now be protected and feel more confident about returning home after their tour of duty. Many families will be very thankful that their loved ones who are on the frontlines will be taken care of with these hazmat suits. On behalf of my family who have been longtime friends with the late Senator Barry Goldwater, we are ever so grateful to the Barry and Peggy Goldwater Foundation and Blok Industries for their kindness and generosity.”
The final stop for the foundation’s team was at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center to distribute the hazmat suits to first responders through the Hopi Emergency Response Team (HERT) Incident Command Center in Kykotsmovi, Arizona.
The Hopi Tribe’s COVID-19 emergency response covers all Hopi villages and communities including First Mesa (Walpi, Sichomovi, Tewa), Second Mesa (Mishongnovi, Shipaulovi, Shungopavi), Third Mesa (Old Orabi, Hotevilla, Bacavi) and the most eastern villages of Upper and Lower Moencopi near Tuba City, Arizona.
Hopi Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma stated, “We are very grateful to the Barry & Peggy Goldwater Foundation for reaching out to Blok Industries on behalf of the Hopi community to provide PPE supplies and hazmat suits for our first responders. With this donation, I know our first responders can find some peace of mind when responding to calls, that, in many cases, present unknown hazards. I can also imagine that our Hopi first responders find some comfort with this donation since these types of supplies are in high demand and not readily available. In these uncertain times, it’s very important to continue to nurture relationships like that of the Barry and Peggy Goldwater Foundation. We appreciate their unwavering support and acknowledge their sincere efforts to help protect our Hopi-Tewa people. We gladly embrace positive support for the Hopi Tribe. Our hats off to Blok Industries, Alison Goldwater and the Goldwater Foundation for facilitating the contribution to our fight against COVID-19. Kwa-kwah.”
Ms. Ross is actively taking donations for the Barry and Peggy Goldwater Foundation to continue bringing relief to communities afflicted by the coronavirus.
“It’s been a group effort involving people who believed in this project and all the folks up at the Navajo and Hopi Reservation who arranged the logistics for this first delivery,” Ms. Ross said. “My grandfather is remembered to have flown his plane to provide supplies and transport those in need to get medical care. He had a love for the Navajo and Hopi peoples. The foundation’s actions honor his legacy of service to the people of Arizona.”
To donate, visit goldwaterfoundation.org/covid-19-relief-mission.