Helping Native American Communites

Meet Rusty Ramirez and Angel Kunzman Soto, this week’s Ben’s Bells Project virtual #Bellee! Deirdre Brosnihan nominated Rusty and Angel for organizing donation drives for Native American communities.

As the COVID-19 rates in Arizona made national headlines, it is the rates within the Native American communities that are the highest per capita rates in the country. Local activists Rusty Ramirez and Angel Soto saw the need for assistance and decided to take action to support their communities. They were both unemployed as the restaurant they work for has been closed. Rusty and Angel have been coordinating donation drives and have completed three delivery runs with rented box trucks to the Diné Elders and Hopi Hospital.

Those deliveries provided face masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene supplies, food, and pet/livestock supplies. I am the Community Service Chair for the Southern Arizona Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers and in July we hosted a fundraiser drive for supplies and monetary donations to help support Angel and Rusty’s efforts. As Angel explained to me, “Rusty and I both believe that our communities have the power to support each other directly, on a personal level, when we’re in trouble and it was that belief that brought us and the donation drives to where we are now.” What these two individuals have accomplished is the definition of kindness.

Angel also noted: “Rusty and I are two people living in Tucson who started collecting supplies for Native communities in the Navajo and Hopi Nations in Northern Arizona who had asked for help. We were both laid off from the restaurant industry in March and wanted to continue helping to feed and connect people while we’ve been unemployed during the pandemic. We’re very proud of Tucson and what’s been accomplished so far, and we’re so happy we can support our neighbors during this crisis. We’re currently planning our 5th supply run.”

If you know someone who inspires kindness within the Greater Tucson, Phoenix, or Connecticut community, nominate them for a Ben’s Bell!