Mother, daughter on Navajo reservation help families in crisis

The Community Action for Children and Youth program in Tuba City provides shoes, toys and clothing to families in crisis in the Navajo Nation.

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Vanessa Brown and her daughter are in the business of giving.

Vanessa is founder and program coordinator for Community Action for Children and Youth on the Navajo reservation, overseen by a nonprofit executive board.  Vanessa also runs the Angel House, a storage facility that holds shoes, toys, clothes and other items for families that stumble into crisis situations.

"If there is a need it doesn't matter who you are.  I will do the best I can," Vanessa said.

Now in her 60s, Vanessa relies on her adult daughter Jade Lara to take control of more and more work.

"I'm her muscle, her body guard and her professional IT," Jade said, laughing.

Together, the mother and daughter in Tuba City are providing a crucial service.  Police and firefighters routinely contact the women to notify them of families and children in need.  Donations come from nearby cities, including Flagstaff.

"Dresses are very popular for women on the reservation.  Older women wear lots and lots of dresses. We always need those," Vanessa said. "Work boots are also important for men getting jobs."

Vanessa began her charity work in 1986. Ten years later, a key donor pulled funding from the organization in order to focus on charities in third-world countries.

Vanessa says she found some irony in that decision.

"This right here is third world," Vanessa said, referring to the quality of life on the reservation.  "The need is great."

Daughter Jade says she plans to continue playing a more prominent role in her mother's work.

"We've seen so many families use this program as a stepping stone. They're making it now," Jade said.

Angel House in Tuba City can be reached at (928) 856-4057.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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