Elder stays active, healthy by volunteering
ROCKY MOUNTAIN, Okla. – Jewell Hummingbird Millsap greets people at the door of the Rocky Mountain Elementary School cafeteria during a fundraiser for a community member battling cancer.
She could be considered the community’s unofficial ambassador as she welcomes people, a usual site for this Adair County community.
“She’s a very strong Cherokee woman. She’s the elder of our board, and we rely on her wisdom to guide us with our decisions. She’s very knowledgeable about so many things and of our culture. We appreciate her so much,” Vicki McLemore, Rocky Mountain Cherokee Community Organization president, said.
Millsap said there are people who watch from “the sideline” when there is a need, but she isn’t one of them.
“I’m a go-getter and I help in anyway. Sometimes I really try to help somebody and get in their way,” she said with a laugh.
Along with serving on the RMCCO board, she’s also a member of Echota Baptist Church and does all she can to “serve the Lord faithfully there.”
She’ also served 16 years as a foster grandparent at the Rocky Mountain Elementary School. Five days a week she helps with the first grade.
“That’s a program I really enjoy because grandmas always got time to hug kids, and kids always love to hug grandmas. It’s like coming to a rose garden. You start teaching the kids that need help, and you can just see that rose blossoming and blooming. They get excited about learning to read and they come running and say, ‘hey granny, I can read and I can read ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’” she said. “They get so excited when they start learning.”
She said she prays for help to teach the children who need extra help to learn.
“A lot of them would be left behind if it wasn’t for us grannies,” she said.
Millsap, 78, said she’s “a big cook” and enjoys cooking with the other grannies who volunteer at the school and for the RMCCO for fundraisers and activities.
“We have programs and we put on gospel singings and stuff to make our utility money,” Millsap said. “And then a lot of times we just have free dinners and have games. We have bingo for the elders who like to come out and play that.”
She also partakes in the Cherokee Nation’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which assists Cherokees in keeping diabetes at bay.
“It not only keeps me slim and trim, but I help them out with their programs by being active as much as I can,” she said. “I’ve got my fingers in so many fires. If it wasn’t for that though I would be in a wheelchair or I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now. You have to keep active.”
Hampered by osteoporosis and arthritis, she said if she doesn’t stay active she would “stove up” or her body would get stiff. Part of staying active includes weed eating and mowing the lawn at her church and at the church cemetery.
“I look at it this way. I serve one of the greatest servants that ever walked this earth and that’s Jesus Christ because he came as a servant to serve, and that’s what I must do,” she said. “I serve whoever needs help in the community. You do the best you can for everybody. To be a servant you must have a willing heart, and you must be available.”
For all of her community service, Millsap was honored in April in Oklahoma City with the “Karen D. Jacobs Award for Exemplary Community Service.” The award joined others she’s received such as “Granny of the Year for Adair County,” and “All-Around Granny,” which covers 12 counties in eastern Oklahoma. She’s also received pins from Sens. Bob Dole and Robert Byrd for volunteer service.
Her daughter Suzie Mathis said her mother is “a beautiful lady” who gives people rides to town, donates food, sets with the sick and cooks for community events or families dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Mathis said her mother and five other women worked in 100-plus degree heat to build a deck on the RMCCO building when Millsap was 75. Last summer, Millsap helped dig a water line ditch when her church had a water leak.
“Any person or child she has contact with is family and once you’re in blood doesn’t matter, you’re family,” Mathis said. “She’s the most caring person I know. Just talk to her once, and the first thing you get from her is ‘can I help?’”
ᏅᏯ ᎣᏓᎵ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. –Jewell Hummingbird Millsap ᏓᏲᎵᎰ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏓᏂᎷᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏅᏯ ᎣᏓᎵ ᏧᎾᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏂᏟᏏᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎨᎳ ᎠᏓᏰᏍᎬ ᎤᏢᎬᎢ.
ᎡᎵᏊᏃ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎠᏁᎵᏍᎪ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏓᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᏂᎷᎬ,ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎶ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ.
“ᎢᎦ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᎨᏯ. ᎤᏔᎾᏯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏁᏥᏙ ᎠᏂᏅ ᎨᎳ ᏃᏊᎴ ᎠᎦᏙᏌᏅ ᎤᏨᏗᏍᎪ ᏙᏧᎪᏔᏅᏍᎬᎢ. ᎢᎦᏃ ᎤᏅᏔᏂ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓᏆ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏱᎦᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎢᎬᎲᎢ. ᎢᎦ ᎣᏣᎵᎡᎵᎪᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Vicki McLemore, ᏅᏯ ᎣᏓᎵ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒᎢ.
Millsap ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᏁᎭ ᏧᎾᎦᏎᏍᏙ “ᎢᏴ ᏂᏛᎬᎴᎯ” ᎢᎸᏍᏢ ᏱᎧᏂᎬᎦ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏱᎩ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎨᏯ ᎨᎳᏊ ᎢᏴ ᏓᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪᎢ.
“ᎠᏯ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏥᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪᎢ. ᎢᏴᏓᎭ ᎦᏁᎸᏗᏍᎬ ᎦᏥᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎢᎬᏯᏗᏢ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏰᏣᏒᎢ.
ᎨᎳ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᏓᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ RMCCO ᎠᏂᎾ, ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᎢᏦᏗ ᏗᎾᏓᏬᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᏧᏂᎳᏫᏍᏗᎢ ᎢᎦ ᎢᎬᏩᏛᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏛᏁᎰ “ᎤᏁᎳᏅᎯ ᎠᏍᏓᏩᏗᏒᎢ ᎾᎿᏂ.”
ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᏓᎳᏚ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎵ ᎾᎿ ᏅᏯ ᎣᏓᎵ ᏧᎾᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᏓᎵᏏ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏗᏂᎦᏘᏯ ᏥᏓᏃᏎᎰ ᎨᎳ ᎨᏒ. ᎯᏍᎩ ᏧᏙᏓᏆᏗ ᏒᎾᏙᏓᏆᏍᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏓᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎲ.
“ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎬ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲᎢ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᎾᏓᎵᏏ ᎤᏠᏅᏓᏕᎲ ᏧᏄᎩᏢᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, ᎠᎴ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᏂᎸᏉᏗ ᏧᎾᏄᎩᏢᏗ ᏧᏂᎵᏏ. ᎾᏍᎩᏯ ᏣᏂᎷᎪ ᎤᏂᏥᎸᏍᎦ ᏓᏫᏒᎢ. ᏯᎴᏅᎯ ᏛᎨᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᏂᏂᎬᎬ ᏗᏍᏕᎸᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏴᎪᏩᏔ ᎠᏥᎸᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬ ᎠᏥᎸᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏥᎸᏐᎢ. ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ ᏳᎾᎴᏅᎯ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎪᎵᏱᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏞᎢᎯᎰ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏂᏪᏍᎪ, ‘ᎡᎵᏏ, ᎡᎵᏊ ᏧᎪᎵᏰᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏱᏥᎪᎵᏯ ‘ᎠᏂᏤᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏧᏪᏣ ᎠᎴ ᏩᎦ ᎭᏫᏯ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. ᎢᎦ ᎠᎾᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᏳᏓᎴᏅᎯ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ.”
ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᏙᎵᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᏥᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏧᏪᏲᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᏂᏂᎬᎬ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.
ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᎾᎿ ᏱᏓᏂᎧᎯᏯ ᎢᏳᏃ ᎾᎿ ᏦᎦᏓᎵᏏ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Millsap, ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ “ᎤᏔᎾ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎩ” ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᏓᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏧᎾᏓᎵᏏ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ RMCCO ᎾᎿ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏂᏟᏏᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎲ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ..
“ ᏙᎩᎭ ᏃᏣᏛᏁᎰ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏂᏃᎩᏍᎪ ᏗᎦᎸᏉᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎬᏩᏙᏢᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Millsap.
“ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏗ ᎠᏎᏊ ᎣᏣᎵᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏣᏁᎶᎲᏍᎪ. Bingo ᏓᎾᏁᎶᎲᏍᎪ ᏧᎾᏔᎾᏯ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏂᎸᏉᏛ ᎤᏂᎷᎯᏍᏗᎢ.”
ᏃᎴᎠᏊ ᎾᏛᏁᎰ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎧᎵᏎᏥ ᎠᏂᎭᎷᎩᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏓᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎧᎵᏎᏥ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎢᎦᏘᎭᎢ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ.
“ᏝᏃᏙ ᏥᎸᏙᏢᏊ ᎤᏩᏌ ᏱᎾᏮᏁᎰ, ᎾᏍᎩᏂ ᎠᎩᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏗᏐᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎦ ᎢᎬᏩᏛ ᎨᏒ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᏕᏥᏰᏌᏗ ᎤᎪᏗ ᏕᎪᏛ ᏫᏓᎦᏏᏙᎢ. ᎢᏳᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏂᏲᎤᏟ ᏥᏚᎾᏦᏙ ᏯᏆᏦᏗ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ Ꮭ ᏱᎬᏆᏛᏗ ᏱᎦᎩ ᏥᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰᎢ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᎵᏖᎸᏗ.”
ᎤᏕᏯᏙᏗᏍᎪ osteoporosis ᎠᎴ ᏗᏛᎴᏍᎩ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᏳᏃ ᎾᎵᏕᎸᎲᏍᎬᎾ ᏱᎩ “ᎠᏰᎸᎢ ᏍᏓᏯᏊ ᏱᎩ” ᏝᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎢᎬᏩᏛᏗ ᏱᎦᎩ. ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎠᎵᏕᎸᎲᏍᎬ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎦᏄᎸ ᎠᏍᏙᏱᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎦᎵᏍᎪᎢ ᏧᏂᎳᏫᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏧᎾᏓᏂᏐᏗᎢ.
“ᎯᎠ ᏄᏍᏙ ᏫᏗᎦᎦᏂᏍᎪ. ᏂᏥᏯᏛᏁ ᏭᏔᏅ ᏗᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏪᏙᎸ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏥᏌ ᎦᎶᏁᏓ ᎤᎷᏥᏢ ᏚᏍᏕᎸᎰᏟ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏯᏆᏛᏗ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᏂᏥᏯᏛᏁᎰᎢ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏊ ᎨᎶ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ. ᏂᏣᏤᎲ ᎢᎦ ᏯᏛᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏂᎥᎢ. ᎢᏯᏛᏗᏃ ᎠᏎ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎣᏓᏅᏛᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏎ ᏰᎵ ᎠᏩᏛᏗ ᏯᏛᏗᎢ.”
ᏂᎦᏓ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏯᏛᏗ, Millsap ᎠᎦᎵᎡᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎧᏬᏂ ᏥᎧᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎤᏔᎾ ᏗᎦᏚᎲᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎩᎵᎡᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᎿ “Karen D. Jacobs Awards ᎾᎿ ᏯᏛᏁᎯ ᏴᏫ ᎬᏩᏂᏍᏓᏩᏛᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᏛᏁᎲᎢ.” ᎯᎠ ᎠᏂᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎾᏖᎳᏛ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎤᎩᏒ ᎾᎿ “ᎡᎵᏏ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎶ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ,” ᎠᎴ “ᏂᎬᎢ--ᎬᏩᏕᏯᏛ ᎤᏓᎵᏏ,”ᎾᏍᎩ ᎫᏢᏍᎩ ᏔᎳᏚ ᎢᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎧᏚᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᎠᎧᏁᏍᏗ ᎤᎩᏒ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅᎢ Sens. Bob Dole ᎠᎴ Robert Byrd ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎬ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ.
ᎤᏪᏥ ᎠᎨᏯ Suzie Mathis ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏥ “ᎤᏬᏚᎯ ᎠᎨᏯ” ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏯᏍᎪ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏗᎦᏚᎲ ᏓᏘᏁᎪ, ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎪ, ᏧᎾᏓᏂᎸ ᏓᎦᏘᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎪ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᏍᎬ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎤᏂᎪᎶᏒ ᏱᎩ.
Mathis ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏥ ᎠᎴ ᎯᏍᎩ ᏯᏂ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸ ᎤᏗᏢᎩ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏢ ᎢᏳᏗᏢᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏲᏓᏢᎲᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ RMCCO ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎾᎿ Millsap ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎡᏔ ᎪᎦ ᏥᎨᏒ, Millsap ᎤᎵᏍᏕᎸᎲ ᎠᏍᎪᏒ ᎠᎹ ᏧᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᏗᏍᏗᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎳᏫᏥᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᎴᏅᎲ ᎬᎫᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᏊ ᎨᎶ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏲᏟ ᏓᏟᏃᎮᏗᏍᎬ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎨᏐ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎯᏴᏫ ᎨᏒ Ꮭ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏱᎨᏐ ᎢᏥᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏂᏣᎵᏍᏗᏍᎪᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Mathis. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏓᎪᎾᏛ ᏚᎦᏎᏍᏙ ᎠᎴ ᏚᎨᏳᏐ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ. ᏌᏊ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏱᏣᏛᏛᎲᎦ ‘ᎡᎵᏊᎦ ᎦᎬᏍᏕᎸᏗ?”’