LCO Elder's Association Holds First Meeting Since Pandemic Began
By Joe Morey
The LCO Elders Association held its first meeting since March when the Covid-19 Pandemic began. A group of more than a dozen Elders met at the Tribal Office Pavilion on Thursday, July 23, to discuss their financials, CARES Act funds, and other issues important to the Elders.
Association President Ellen Martin said the group needs to come up with some fundraising ideas during the pandemic. She said their usual means for raising funds through selling meals at locations like the tribal office and college haven’t been available to them since March because of the virus.
Melody Fleming asked Martin if the Tribal Governing Board (TGB) donated any funds to the Elders to which Martin explained they don’t and their only means to raise money has been through cooking, but, there is nowhere for them to cook right now.
“We’re strictly all volunteers. When you see us out there selling, it all goes into the Association’s account,” Martin said. “We give money to the college. We give out two scholarships for $500 each year.”
The Elders have Koobie’s Coffee open Monday through Saturday, 7:00 am to 2:00 pm, for carry-out only. Mona Ingerson, Secretary for the Elder’s Association, reported that they do not have in-store seating available.
“We miss our conversations with our customers, but our area is too small to provide the distancing needed to be safe,” Ingerson noted.
Ingerson told the group the Elders gave a list to the Tribal Governing Board of what they thought should be priorities for the CARES Act funds, which included, money to the Elder Center for renovations. The Indian Health Service recently completed an evaluation of the facility located in Reserve, and found there were problems which included lack of accessibility for Elders in wheelchairs and lack of accessibility to the bathrooms, she reported. No funds were allocated for renovations from the CARES Act project budget.
Other suggestions for CARES Act funds included developing a plan for a wellness/exercise center; provide access to members for all tribal ordinances; digitize membership records, minutes of meetings and legislative actions; establishment of a land-use commission to protect the natural resources; establishment of buildings and grounds department for maintenance, clean up and renovations for community centers, playgrounds and installation of street lights; and upgrades to the Kinnamon Museum.
Ingerson reported Elders hope the TGB will maintain regular reporting on use of the funds.
Martin told the group that once the pandemic has passed, the Elders are planning a trip to Tama, Iowa, home of the Meskwaki Tribe.