Ride for Ride turned Bottle for Bottle: Navajo Nation

If you’ve been a longtime follower of The Detroit Bus Company, you know that a major tenet of our business model has been giving back to our community. As a small business that’s incredibly proud of our city, neighbors, and area that we call home, we decided early on that we would do our part to be A Helper (yes, that is a Mr. Rogers reference and yes, we have a big soft spot for all things Neighborhood). Over the past 10 years, we have used our Ride for Ride program to provide free and deeply discounted rides to so many: kids attending after school activities, nonprofits, community groups, school choirs. We’ve spearheaded projects like our Play Freebird scooter giveaway. Our ability to give these rides as a regular part of our day-to-day was truly one of the joys of running our business.

Fast forward to the start of spring of 2020: Covid-19 swept through the country, hitting Detroit hard. All bus business came to a halt. With a giant warehouse on our hands and an incredibly capable staff, we brainstormed how we could keep working while also helping others. Smart planning combined with more than a few sleepless nights and we were off to the races, flipping our warehouse from bus service bays to an efficient sanitizer production line. We started selling as soon as we started bottling – we wanted sanitizer to get to everyone who needed it, and FAST.

Our business may have completely shifted overnight, but our motivation to help others remained at the forefront. It didn’t take much deliberation to realize that we should just keep it simple: since Ride for Ride was such a success, why not continue the mission as Bottle for Bottle. For every bottle sold, one is donated. Since we wanted our donated bottles to have a huge impact in the most vulnerable communities, we reached out to Meals on Wheels Detroit. They were happy to join forces, and that partnership has led to sanitizer delivery to over 4,000+ homes in need throughout Wayne County. But we didn’t stop there – we also added the option to purchase a bottle to be donated on the checkout page of our website, and we were floored at the generosity. An incredible number of customers were eager to pay it forward, and many reached out with specific requests on where they’d like their donations to go. If you were someone who donated may be curious about the journey your donated hand sani took, sit tight: there are stories to share, and we can’t wait to share ’em!

One of our first bigger requests came to us near the end of April. We received an email that brought to light an incredibly high-risk group of people: the Navajo Nation. If you’ve been following the news, you may be up to speed on the unique circumstances adding to the plight that Navajo people are now facing. Roughly the size of West Virginia, the Navajo Nation stretches through lands primarily in Arizona and New Mexico. As of May, many news outlets reported approximately 4,000 cases of Covid-19 in this region. To provide some context to those numbers: if the Navajo Nation were a state, it would rank third for the highest number of Covid cases. A number of factors are contributing to the spike in cases within the Navajo Nation, making this group of people particularly susceptible. In many homes multiple generations live under the same roof, so one family member can shed the virus and easily infect an extended family. To compound this already troubling issue, somewhere between 30% and 40% of residents do not have running water. As the CDC continues to recommend frequent and vigilant hand washing as one of the top ways to combat Covid-19, the people living without running water are at incredibly high risk.

So when Detroit residents Hadassah Greensky and Sarah Torres reached out, we were eager to help as best we could. Hadassah is part of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa near Charlevoix, and Sarah is part of the Opata Nation in the Sonoran desert area of Arizona. They worked together to create Detroit Solidarity: Aid For The Navajo Nation, a fundraiser with an awesome mission. In their words: “We are two indigenous women asking for your help, in solidarity with the people of the Navajo Nation, who are in need of urgent aid. We request that you send donations or other supplies (please contact me for info on donating supplies). The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American tribe in the US.”

After a few emails and quick coordination, we arranged for Sarah and Hadassah to come to a local pickup day and load up on the many gallons of sanitizer that were ready and waiting. We were also able to talk with them about how best to help their cause, and they were gracious enough to allow a brief video interview and have some photos snapped. They left DBC HQ with the car’s trunk filled to the brim, a total of 30 gallons donated in all. They also noted that all money collected in their own fundraiser is being used to buy bulk quantities of hand sanitizer and also for the cost of freight shipping out west. Our whole crew was inspired by their story, and we hope to be able to give even more in the future.

If you would like to donate hand sanitizer, we have all kinds of sizes and quantities in stock that can be purchased on our website. Simply choose the “donation” option at payment screen, and specify that you’d like your free bottle to go to the Navajo Nation. You can also donate directly on the Facebook fundraiser page – Detroit Solidarity: Aid For The Navajo Nation. As of today, the project has raised a little over $3,000, with a goal of $5,000 total.

Contact info for Hadassah and Sarah:

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