Sheral “Oscar” Merz, also known as “Oscar Greyhair,” volunteers with Adopt-A-Native Elder Program, a humanitarian group that provides food, non-prescription medical supplies, clothing and friendship to Navajo elders on the Navajo Reservation in Utah and Arizona.
The Adopt-A-Native Elder Program provides more than 28 tons of supplies to the Navajo elders twice a year. This includes 700 food boxes, 300 bags each of flour, potatoes, apples, oranges and onions, 500 boxes of medical, children, grandma and grandpa supplies, school supplies and boxes for elders who have no support. In addition, 150 cases of incontinence briefs are also distributed, as well as shovels, axes or brooms, cases of 6-volt batteries, 50 or more bags of clothes and sundry extra boxes that are sent by support people throughout the country. Produce and flour is purchased locally on the reservation and transported to each distribution location. These items are dispersed to the elders at six remote areas throughout the Reservation.
Merz coordinates the purchases, storage, loading, labeling and distribution of this humanitarian aid twice a year. Temperatures can get to the upper nineties or low 100s but Merz keeps his team on the move and gets the job done.
Several years ago, the Navajo Reservation was hit with a series of snowstorms that left many of the elders in the remote areas without food. Merz took supplies in his four-wheel drive pickup to many of these elders. In addition to accompanying the Adopt-A-Native Elders Program convoys, he and his wife, often including one or more of their daughters, visit elders at their remote homes. He and his wife also bring school supplies to the schools in Kayenta, Arizona.
Merz unselfishly gives more than 1,500 hours of his time, and a great deal of money each year to help the Navajo elders through the Adopt-A-Native Elder Program. When the work has slowed down, he can be found with a group of Navajo elders, talking and eating mutton stew.