9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance Memorial Gardens in Tribal Communities

The National Society for American Indian Elderly (NSAIE), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, seeks to create Native American memorial gardens and groves by establishing and expanding on elder gardens that engage community members and provide food for elder service programs.  Many elders in Native American communities have children and family currently serving in the armed forces.  Native Americans have the highest percentage of any group serving in all branches of service.  Veterans themselves have a need to commemorate those who have answered their Nations’ call and made the ultimate sacrifice.  These communities have responded to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, but still need of a place to honor their First Responders and Veterans.  A memorial garden will be a place within the Native Communities to pay tribute and to heal.

The NSAIE will engage its AmeriCorps VISTA members who have been placed in Tribal Communities across the United States and Guam to create memorial gardens.  Currently, NSAIE VISTA members are working with the following organizations:

  • Community Health Nutrition White Mountain Apache Indian Health Services
  • Elder Nutrition and Support Penobscot Nation Human Services Department
  • Nutrition for the Elderly and Care Giver Program with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Pa‘a Taotao Tano’ Hagatna, Guam
  • Blackfeet Manpower Program Blackfeet Nation
  • Elder Services Department Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Winnebago Senior Center Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
  • Senior Services Tohono O’odham Department of Health and Human Services
  • Senior Center and Elderly Assistance Program Pueblo of Acoma
  • Elder Nutrition Center United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians

By engaging our VISTA members, their worksite supervisors, Tribal Nation department directors, and over 1400 community volunteers, the NSAIE will be able to create within these Tribal Communities a necessary space for healing.  Our VISTA members are already building capacity for vital elder programs.  The 10th Anniversary Day of Service and Remembrance Project will add to this success by providing a means to pay tribute to first responders and veterans and to heal over such tremendous loss.

The project will take place over the next six weeks culminating on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 when 10 memorial gardens will be dedicated to the communities surrounding the Tribal organizations named above.  Creating memorial gardens will require volunteers from the community to perform several days’ worth of mowing, clearing, weeding, painting, and building to make their gardens not just functional but a place of peace and reflection.  Each location will be able to add to the garden in ways that are most meaningful to the community. 

In order to promote the Day of Service and Remembrance, the NSAIE will be using a combination of social and print media and word of mouth to spread awareness and gain participants.  An event notice will be posted on the Hands On Network as well as the AmeriCorps Alumni website.  A YouTube public service announcement that will be directly linked to our Facebook Page and the NSAIE website will engage our past VISTA members and their friends and family.  Notices will be posted in each of our VISTA members’ organizations and our VISTA members will connect with past volunteers, Tribal Summer Associates and colleagues to recruit participants. 

VISTA members will then be charged with tracking and recording participation in addition to overseeing the Project at each worksite.  They will then submit the number of volunteers including hours logged to the NSAIE where information will be collated for reporting.