Elder Appreciation Day returns at Huhugam Heritage Center
May 5, 2023
Gila River Indian News
For the first time in three years since the COVID-19 pandemic, Community elders were welcomed with open arms at the Huhugam Heritage Center on April 20, for the appreciation of Community elders or as more people have come to know it as, ‘Elder Appreciation Day’.
“We are just really glad to have you here,” announced the Director of the Huhugam Heritage Center, Shirley Jackson, to the elders gathered awaiting the competition and events to commence.
Since 2015, The Huhugam Heritage Center has hosted this annual event to honor, show appreciation and give gratitude towards GRIC elders who carry cultural knowledge and wisdom for the Community. The occasion was a reclaimed Olympic theme originally intended for the 2020 Elder Appreciation Day. The Olympic theme pays tribute to the 2020 Olympic Games that were held in Tokyo that year.
However, COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the 2020 Elder’s Appreciation Day event for GRIC.
For this year’s return, the senior Olympic festivities began at 9:00 a.m. with a torch relay from the entrance of the Huhugam Heritage Center, then handed off relay style to different district elders accompanied by Olympic-themed banners.
The schedule of competitive activities included javelin, ring toss, fishing, bowling, discus throw, and cornhole. Throughout the event, Community elders cheered each other on and showed their support.
“The highlight of this event is listening to our elders… listening to them laugh and just seeing them have a good time, giving them a break from everyday life,” said Donald Sabori, HHC staff member and Elder Appreciation Day host.
Organizers treated the elders with complimentary refreshments, informational booths from GRIC’s Elderly Services program, lunch and free access to the museum, which features a new exhibit on traditional O’otham games.
“This is my first time here, overall, I think it was a pretty good turnout, and I liked it,” said GRIC elder, Leana “Cheta” Porter from District 5, “I will come next year and plan on playing more games.”