New to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Senior Services Department is an outreach to senior men to get together and have their own outings and arts and crafts days.
Senior Services has been gathering information on creating a group just for the men of the Community. A large number of women participate in the activities offered by the Senior Center, and the staff did not want to leave the men feeling forgotten. In December they began meeting to discuss forming a group for men.
After attending some meetings, Community member Rhonda Johnson took interest in the group and decided to volunteer.
Johnson is currently working with the men and has ideas on arts and crafts that she learned while taking classes at Scottsdale Community College.
“We created magnets with sand paintings that the men created,” said Johnson.
Not only will there be arts and crafts, but other potential activities include fishing and hiking. The men have also expressed an interest in planting a garden, building a horseshoe pit and attending local sporting events together. Johnson also wants to incorporate cultural activities and gather oral history from the senior men through various activities.
Although the core group is about three to five members now, it is expected to grow once more men become aware of it.
Their first outing was to the Huhugam Heritage Center in Gila River. As they arrived, the museum’s staff explained about the planning and creation of the museum’s outdoor ethnobotanical garden, and then they guided the men inside to see the exhibit gallery, where photographs, baskets and cultural artifacts are displayed.
The men learned about the history of the Akimel O’odham and Piipaash, and museum staff told the seniors about the ball courts that were found in the community, along with artifacts.
In addition to seeing the museum exhibits, the men were given a special opportunity to enter the repository, a restricted, climate-controlled area where museum staff preserve and catalog cultural artifacts found in the Salt River and Gila River Indian communities.
“We were then escorted into the repository room, where we met one of the archaeologists, who at the time was cleaning and labeling artifacts to be placed into the collections room,” said Johnson.
“The men were very excited,” said Michael Dallas, transit driver for the Salt River Senior Center. Dallas said that there were some words that some of the men did not know, and others who knew helped translate what they meant.
Those who attended were Arnold Easchief, Carlton Able, Danny Harvier, Earl Ray, Stan Baptisto, Maynard Andrews and Oscar White, along with driver Michael Dallas.
Johnson said their first trip out of the Community was a success and was a great experience for the men’s group.
The group meets every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Salt River Senior Center. If you know of an interested senior who would like to join the men’s group, or if you would like a group schedule of events, contact the Salt River Senior Center at (480) 362-6350 or visit the center.