A Place for the Community

   By Partnership

“It’s a difficult situation that I’m living in,” said Dan, an Elder with heritage from both the Winnebago Tribe and the UMÓⁿHOⁿ (Omaha) Tribe in Nebraska. It’s difficult for Dan to eat after complications from medical issues last year.

At age 74, Dan attends at the Walthill Senior Center in Walthill, Nebraska, which offers nutritious, hot meals to their Elders. To help do this, they receive deliveries of staple foods from Northern Plains Reservation Aid® (NPRA), a program of Partnership With Native Americans® (PWNA). “It’s more than what you can get at a restaurant,” Dan said. His favorite foods at the senior center include chicken, soup, and potatoes. State and regional agencies approve the senior center’s menus to ensure nutritious meals.

Dan travels from the next small town over, Macy, Nebraska, where he lives alone. He shared, “I wish I lived in Walthill. The senior center makes it a lot easier for people to get together. Each of us has a place in the community.”

Throughout his life, Dan has survived all sorts of injuries and ailments. He was “sick a lot as an infant,” and at three years old, his mom took him to a healer in Macy for treatment. Fast forward to 1969 – at age 21, he joined the military and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, famous for participating in most major U.S. military campaigns since World War I. While serving in Vietnam, Dan sustained a serious injury from a gun.

Native American veterans are underserved and faced with greater health and work-related issues. According to the National Indian Council on Aging, Native American and Alaska Native veterans face lower incomes, lower educational attainment, and higher unemployment. They are more likely to lack health insurance and have a disability (service-connected or otherwise) than veterans of other races.

At age 74, Dan is proud to be one of the oldest regulars at the Walthill Senior Center. He told us, “I want to stick around because people look up to me.”

Our Program Partner Chris is the Walthill Senior Center Manager. She runs out of food supplies before the next delivery comes, but she couldn’t provide for the seniors without NPRA. Chris noted, “Food costs have gone up 10-15% since January. We appreciate donations because we need them, and we use everything that we get.”

On an average day, the center serves 50 meals. Chris shared, “If we’re closed even a couple of days, people will come in and say, ‘Why were you closed? I was hungry.’ Walthill doesn’t have [many programs] left, so we have to keep this place going. We’re so excited when we see the truck with our shipment. Everyone is so kind.”

PWNA and our NPRA program help Elders like Dan through Program Partners like Chris. You can show your support by donating to NPRA today.