ONE FEATHER STAFF REPORT
SNOWBIRD – A Christmas party and celebration event was held at the Snowbird Community Center on Tuesday, Dec. 20 for members of the Snowbird and Cherokee County communities, and it ended up being about a lot more than the holidays themselves.
“It was a really fun way to get to know everybody and let them know that we’re there for them,” said Juanita Wilson, EBCI Director of Snowbird and Cherokee County Services.
Wilson’s position and entire division is new with the administration of Principal Chief Patrick Lambert. She said it has already made a difference in the two communities.
“We had a lot to celebrate – first of all budgets,” Wilson noted. “We have our own budgets now. Those were taken away several years ago from the last administration, and the staff had to constantly ask for what they needed. So, we really couldn’t serve that community in a really holistic way. Sometimes, they didn’t get what they needed.”
She said there are several projects coming to the area including a senior citizens community pavilion in Little Snowbird and a new Graham County Indian Education staff building.
Wilson said her office and entire division has been getting some good early reviews. “It’s been very, very positive. I’ve gotten feedback from Council, community leaders, the Chief’s Office…everything seems to be going very well. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”
Employees were involved in the planning of the Dec. 20 event. “When Juanita brought us this idea of the employees giving back, we all brainstormed, we all had different ideas, and of course, each of our own ideas were the best,” said Zena Rattler. “In the end, we still really couldn’t decide. So came the idea for milk and cookies with Santa and make a homemade ornament and decorate your own cookie. It turned into a wonderful family event for our community.”
Rattler said that during the planning stages several names of families came up who some thought could benefit. “Each of these two families were single moms, one with three teenagers and one with four small children, one of those being special needs. One of our employees took it upon themselves to request for a donation for these families and was able to get a $750 donation for each family from the Alcohol Board in Cherokee. I know firsthand the joy that this brought these families and they were very appreciative. So, we were able to actually do more than we thought we could. It was all just an absolute blessing to be a part of!”
Wilson can be reached on her personal phone 788-2579 or on tribal email at firstname.lastname@example.org.