PUEBLO — Coloradans are stepping up to help a community struggling in the fight against COVID-19.
The virus has claimed the lives of more than 100 people in the Navajo Nation, and tribal leaders have implemented strict lockdowns in response. Certain circumstances, like pre-existing conditions and a lack of running water in some cases can make the virus easier to spread, and harder to beat.
A group of people, called Compassionate Colorado, have organized their second trip to New Mexico, complete with essential supplies and financial donations to help people living in the Navajo Nation. The volunteers left on Saturday, after picking up a water tank from a Westcliffe woman in Pueblo. "I want to help and save that culture that we can learn from... You cannot divide, we have to come together. The virus is teaching us, in that way," said Claudia Morris, the woman who donated the water tank.
Denver local Lucas Garcia organized Compassionate Colorado because he saw a need in the Navajo Nation community, and wanted to help. He said his family is Navajo, making this even more special to him. Garcia said they made their first trip to New Mexico around two weeks ago, bringing lots of supplies and around 1,000 face masks. "Just giving them their everyday necessities so that they can have water, so they can fight this virus off, so that they can keep their hands clean, so that they can have those essential items that are needed to be successful in this fight... Probably one of the greatest missions of my life," said Garcia.
Garcia also said the goal is to create a lasting relationship with the people he meets from the Navajo Nation.
The donation of a water tank is especially important to Compassionate Colorado's mission. "I knew that the Navajo Nation, 30-40% do not have water. But, I don't think I understood the extent of what that actually meant until I actually visited there... We are so grateful in ways that we can't even quite express," said Ashlee Lewis, who has been helping Garcia with certain projects for the group.
Those with the group said they believe more than 100 people have helped support their cause. Some of those volunteers made the journey to New Mexico this second time around, and one of them even brought their teenage daughter. "My whole family's involved... I'm able to teach my children to come out and give," said Bernadette Longoria.
Garcia said this will not be their last trip. Compassionate Colorado plans to spend the next six weeks in Arizona, Utah, and South Dakota, delivering supplies and monetary donations.
The group is still accepting any donations. To find out how to donate based on where you live, check out this list of hub operators who can help.