By Naomi Hatch
The White Mountain Community Freehold “is all about neighbors helping neighbors,” according to Snowflake-Taylor Chapter President Ascyna Talking Raven.
John Sequoia is the chapter’s vice president of Give Me Shelter, Cary Packer is vice president of the Food Division, Patricia Wallin is treasurer and Linda Groman is secretary.
Freehold is a community action group whose mission is to ensure that no one hungers or thirsts, and that everyone has adequate shelter and affordable wellness care.
During the month of December, the Freehold held its second annual Can-Tree celebration, collecting more than 3,200 cans of food that were given to Shepherd’s Kitchen in Snowflake. The can tree was approximately 9’ tall.
“We work with Shepherd’s Kitchen because they are already set up,” said Talking Raven. “The whole idea of community family is we like to support the businesses that are already doing things. We’re more into cooperation as an organization.
“Freehold is all about neighbors helping neighbors,” she continued. “We need to support our local businesses, and that is why we support our local businesses during a food drive.”
Last summer the Freehold held a food drive called Boat Load of Food that collected just under its 3,000-can goal. Members will begin the second annual Boat Load of Food in March, and have set a goal of collecting 3,000 cans again this year. The boat will be parked in front of several local businesses for several months taking donations that will go to Shepherd’s Kitchen.
Talking Raven said that they plan to start the food drive earlier this year to gather food for children who are on summer break, and won’t get breakfast and lunch provided at school.
She is concerned about the statistics she has gathered that show Navajo County as 14th in the nation for food insufficiency, noting, “One out of five of our children go to bed hungry, and that is sad.”
“We decided as an organization to make sure we do everything we can collectively, working with our community family, to help relieve that food insufficiency during that time,” she said.
Freehold has been organized for less than two years, but people are responding to it.
“I can make a difference by myself, but only together are we changing our world is our motto,” said Talking Raven. “It’s all about cooperation.”
The arm providing affordable wellness care through the Freehold is the Visionary Wellness Co-operative, which provides affordable wellness care and supports blended medicine.
“Wellness is education empowering people,” said Talking Raven. “We help them heal from their issues that are stuck in their tissues.”
The Freehold is a not-for-profit grass-roots organization dedicated to caring for the land on which we all live, along with sharing the resources to insure that all who call the White Mountains home have the four basic human needs: food, water, adequate safe shelter and affordable wellness care.
The Visionary Wellness Co-operative holds a variety of classes, including aerobic class, hand and foot reflexology, art therapy, household cleaners and Tai Chi. Some classes have a small charge and others are held at no cost. Members enjoy bartering and welcome volunteers. For more information, call 536-3008 or stop by 60 S. Main St. in Snowflake.