What Makes Us NavajoStrong
NavajoStrong was created to aid the Navajo community during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. We strive to honor our ancestors and empower the Diné by working hard to help citizens who are affected by disease, poverty, and other health disparities on the Navajo Reservation.
Bud's #NavajoStrong Story
Founding Executive Director
My name is Bud Frazier and I grew up in American Fork, Utah. When I was 17, we moved to Blanding, Utah - which borders the Navajo Community - to be closer to my grandparents. I am a proud Navajo American who spent much of my childhood with my grandparents, who lived on a mesa in a remote area with no electricity or running water. They taught me the importance of being Navajo. They taught me the Navajo language, stories of our ancestors, pride in our heritage, and resilience in our hardships. And of course, they taught me to herd sheep. Whenever I would visit I would help with the arduous task of hauling water, I would watch my grandmother prepare every meal using wood and coal instead of an electric stove, I would observe ancient practices using the medicine mother earth provided to heal the sick. These memories consumed me when COVID-19 was discovered because I knew the people still living in the Navajo Community would be greatly affected and underserved.
I am a Registered Nurse and spent the first 8 years of my career as an ICU Nurse. I have cared for the sick and dying my entire career. I have followed this disease as closely as anyone else could and when my elderly aunt and uncle died within the same month from complications of COVID-19, I knew I needed to do something.
In healthcare, hand washing is disease prevention 101. It's the most basic tool to help stop the spread of disease. As the COVID-19 pandemic infiltrated the entire world, everyone else became keenly aware of the importance of hand hygiene as well. Without running water, good hand hygiene is nearly impossible. In a nation of approximately 175,000 people, 30-40% are without running water or electricity, let alone a Wal-Mart or Costco. This is why the idea for NavajoStrong was born.
I'm not afraid of stepping up in times of need. I was part of a group of nurses that volunteered our time and talents in Houston after the Hurricane in 2017. When I decided to do something to help the people of the Navajo Community, I started with a simple post on social media asking for donations. The movement grew exponentially, especially after the story was picked up by Fox 13 News 2 days later. Four days after my post I was making my first trip to the land of my ancestors with 8 trucks and trailers loaded with much-needed supplies for the Navajo people. I haven't stopped since.
Each trip is approximately 1000 miles round trip and finding the people requesting help isn't always easy. Many families don't have physical addresses and deliveries are sent with as little information as "the single-wide trailer near milepost 351". I work my regular job during the week while also attending school for my Master's Degree. On weekends my wife Candee and I coordinate massive caravans of supplies with the help of the hundreds of volunteers who have joined this movement. During the week, my parents (my dad, who lives in Shiprock, NM and my mom, who lives in Tonalea, AZ) work endlessly delivering supplies and picking up orders for the next week's run. Additionally, there is now a form online for families to fill out supply requests.
My medical training has been crucial in overseeing this mission. In order to keep both volunteers and recipients safe, all volunteers don full personal protective equipment (PPE), use a "no-contact" drop off, and practice social distancing. Each bin is thoroughly disinfected before and after each use. I continue to learn as much as I can about this disease and am proud of the way NavajoStrong has evolved. In the last 3 weeks, approximately 170 families on the reservation have been served. With the help of volunteers, we've delivered trailer loads of supplies directly to the chapterhouses of Leupp, AZ, Navajo Mountain, UT, Kaibito, AZ, and Chilchinbito, AZ.
We are nowhere close to being done and I am so grateful to every person who has helped so far, in big ways and small. I can't wait to see where NavajoStrong goes from here. I hope you take the time to us it out and help in any way you can. We are all in this together! #navajostrong