The Apple Guy: A one-man mission to bring fresh fruit to communities of color

Hugo Sanchez-Garcia, The Apple Guy.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“Can I get one bag of apples, two bags of cherries, and if you still have them, some apricots too?” inquired a local man of the Maryville-Tulalip area. 

Simply nodding yes, Hugo Sanchez-Garcia began to scoop plump, ripe cherries into paper bags while making friendly conversation with the customer as he fulfilled his request. 

“Will $60 work?” the man asked.

“Yes, absolutely. Thank you,” Hugo graciously replied as he handed him his order.

Only two short orders behind this gentleman, a lady ordered nearly double his order, three bags of apples, four bags of cherries and two punnets of apricots. 

“I have a big family,” the woman said while offering a smile that was ever-so-slightly visible underneath her mask. “This will all be gone by tomorrow.” 

This time, however, when the currency-produce exchange occurred, the lady stated she only had $12.

“That’s perfect,” Hugo said sincerely and kindly. “Thank you.”

Nobody was prepared for the curveball that the year 2020 had in store for us. The presence of COVID-19 has caused many people to reevaluate their lives in terms of health concerns and also their line of work, as businesses are beginning to lay off employees nationally, and in some cases permanently close altogether. 

Hugo found himself in a predicament that many Americans are currently facing; continue searching for employment in his most recent line of work, or start anew. Hugo chose to pivot. 

“After COVID hit, it was kind of hard for me to find a job doing what I was doing before,” Hugo explained. “And my dad has been kind of nagging me for a while to bring fresh produce here because there’s a lot of fruit in Chelan, which is where we grew up. So I thought, let’s give this a shot and see how it goes.”

Filling up his pickup truck with freshly picked fruit from orchards at Chelan, Hugo becomes his alter-ego, better known as the Apple Guy, when making weekly deliveries all through Western Washington. Originally, the Apple Guy was taking online orders and making home deliveries. That is until he got in contact with Tulalip tribal member, Natosha Gobin, who helped him establish a base at the parking lot of the Tulalip Market. 

“He has different stops up and down I-5,” Natosha said. “He sets up shop and sells bags of apples on a sliding scale – $5, $10, free. If you show up and you say you don’t have the means to buy apples, but you would love a bag, he’ll give you a bag of apples. He’s also done some pretty big donations to our community. He’s donated apples to me knowing that I know a lot of people in Tulalip, so we put those apples on the doorsteps of some of the elders and the seniors.”

With Natosha’s assistance and rave reviews all over Facebook, word about the Apple Guy’s produce delivery service has the town buzzing.

“My wife, she’s always on Facebook so she tells me when he’s around and what he’s got,” said Tribal member Kurtis Enick. “He posts every week, which is a great for my family. When I go home with this, I know that they’re going to be so happy with me, because my daughter is just now starting to get her teeth and she loves eating apples. My wife likes the apricots and the cherries, and my son is a vegetarian and only eats fresh produce.

“It feels really good knowing everything is local, everything is coming from Chelan or somewhere in Washington,” Kurtis continued. “It feels really good to taste that fresh-off-the tree fruit, that good stuff. And it’s a whole lot better than going to the store and looking through all the fruit that they say is fresh but it’s not really that fresh, nowhere near as fresh as this.”

Although it is important for Hugo to profit off of these deliveries to cover costs as well as living expenses, money is not his main objective. In fact, currency is sort of a miniscule aspect to this project compared to the reason he decided to ‘give it a shot’.

“I do operate on a sliding scale,” he said. “There are two guiding principles that I set when I first started out. One of them being that access to food is a human right. The second one is that we’re all occupants on Tribal lands, so it’s important that we move as guests, it’s our responsibility. 

“I think it’s also important to recognize that fresh food isn’t as easily accessible on certain reservations. I think a lot of people, and especially a lot of communities of color, don’t have access to a lot of fresh fruits. So, what is the point of bringing it all the way out here if folks couldn’t afford it? I think ultimately every individual knows what they can and can’t afford. So, I trust their judgment to pay what they can.”

Hugo is currently selling a variety of apples including Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith. His selection of cherries right now are Rainier, Bing, Sweetheart and Lapin. Hugo also has apricots and will have peaches in the near future. 

Be sure to follow The Apple Guy on Facebook for his complete list of produce for sale as well as his weekly scheduled stops. 

Duane C. Ike Sr.

Duane C. Ike Sr, 75 of Tulalip, WA, went home to Glory July 6, 2020 in the comfort of his home.

He was born Feb. 11, 1947 in Chehalis, WA to Howard and Sally (Purcell) Ike. He was raised and educated in Toledo, WA. 

He was a member of the Yakama Nation. He started working at the age of 14. He worked for various logging companies Tiin – ma; Wheelers; Mistletoe; and Yakima Forest Products. He retired at the age of 63. He enjoyed family gatherings; fishing; hunting; wood whittling; reading; coaching sports; his grandchildren; and most of all studying the Word (Bible). He was a member of the Tulalip Worship Center.

He is survived by his wife Francine Ike; children, Lucille Ike, Sally Armour, Georgia Ike-Taylor, Francis Ike, Lois Ike, Duane Ike Jr., Louis Ike, Trisahna Ike, Travis Vanfelt Wasco, Billy James, Darrin Howard, Gilbert Andrews, Ron Iukes, Billy Herrera, and Jake Britton; and his sister, Lila Loggins. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter Rosalind Ike; son-in-law Kelly Joe Strong Sr; brothers, Matthew Ike Sr. and Ted Satanus; sisters Alice Ike, Charlette Wahpat and Helen Smartlowit.

Graveside services will be held Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 12:00 Noon at Mission Beach Cemetery. February 11, 1947 – July 6, 2020

Sarah Hart takes matters into her own hands

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

As many will recall, when the elusive coronavirus first struck the U.S., panic ran rampant throughout the nation. Perhaps in anticipation of self-quarantine or lockdown, people rushed to the supermarket to stock up on their essentials needs. Although this particular moment will go down in history as the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, TP wasn’t the only shelf left empty by panicked consumers. In fact, most home cleaning supplies were also completely sold out including disinfectant wipes and spray, paper towels, multi-purpose sprays and hand sanitizer.

“There were a lot of call outs on Facebook from people in the community, especially elders, saying they had no sanitizer, no masks or gloves,” explains Tulalip tribal member Sarah Hart. “I immediately went to the store thinking, I’ll just go pick up a bunch of hand sanitizers, I don’t mind paying for it. And then I got there, there was literally nothing. That’s when I knew I had to make something happen.” 

Solely out of concern for her fellow Tulalip community members, Sarah began to brainstorm ways to keep her loved ones as safe as possible during the pandemic, ultimately deciding to dedicate her stay-at-home hours to producing hand sanitizer. 

“For two days straight I YouTubed videos on how to make your own sanitizer and went on the CDC website to make sure it was strong enough. I felt the need to do something for the community because a lot of people didn’t have any hand sanitizer. I figured I could make a few bottles for when people go out to the store and they touch something like the carts, at least they could have one of my bottles on-hand and it could potentially save their life.” 

While organizations such as the CDC (Centers of Disease Control), FDA (Food and Drug Administration, and WHO (World Health Organization) maintain that washing your hands with warm soapy water for at least twenty seconds is key in limiting the spread of COVID, they also state that an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be effective in a pinch or on-the-go until you are able to properly cleanse your palms and digits.

Sarah wasn’t the only person manufacturing hand sanitizer out of the comfort of her own home, in fact several DIY hand sanitizer step-by-step guides were released during the early months of COVID. Around the world people were making sanitizer with the intention of personal use or financial gain. Unfortunately for many, due to cutting corners for profit or not using the proper ingredients, their homemade hand sanitizers were either rendered ineffective or caused unpleasant side effects such as burns and rashes. 

This was something Sarah intentionally avoided from the start, claiming that cheaper products would not come at the expense of her people’s health. So when the CDC recommended an alcohol base of at least 60%, Sarah went out and purchased 190-proof Everclear, 30% stronger than the CDC recommendation, essentially telling COVID that she is not messing around.

“It took me a good two weeks to get the consistency that I felt was safe enough. When I make a batch of one-hundred bottles I use Everclear, aloe vera, hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel for the skin so it doesn’t dry out and tea tree oil. If you go on Etsy or anywhere online 90% of the people that make it cut it with distilled water or rose water, something to make it cheaper.”

Once she had her recipe down, she recruited her youngins to lend a hand and assist with creating the concoction as well as bottling and distributing the product. Eventually over time, their passion for the family hand sanitizer project grew perhaps even larger than Sarah’s. 

“My kids have been amazing,” she expressed. “It makes me happy that my little ones are into helping. For the first two months we were making it every day and every morning they would wake up and were like, ‘let’s make hand sanitizer!’ They’ve helped tremendously.

“It has turned into something bigger than I thought it would be. For two months, I delivered hundreds and hundreds of bottles. And now, a few days out of the week I’ll make a batch of a hundred bottles and put them at the end of my driveway on a table and tell people to be safe and come and grab how many ever they need. And when I put them out, I spray them down all down, just in case because what if I’ve been in contact and unknowningly pass it to an elder or someone in the community.”

In addition to delivering the hand sanitizer, on two separate occasions Sarah and her kids assembled care packages for the elders of Tulalip by pairing two masks, two pairs of gloves and two hand sanitizers in Ziploc bags, on which they included a personal drawing or message for the recipients. Those care packages in turn inspired Sarah to help out a fellow Indigenous nation who have been hit hard by the pandemic, sending 200 care packages filled with masks and sanitizer to the Navajo Nation. You can also spot the employees of the Marysville Safeway, Albertsons, and local coffee stands utilizing Sarah’s sanitizer as she drops off dozens of bottles to local businesses during her weekly delivery rounds. 

High quality product requires a big budget and typically generates enough revenue for additional production costs as well as labor. Sarah’s main objective, however, is ensuring her people have the necessary supplies to protect themselves against corona and she has no intention of charging for her sanitizer. After emptying her entire savings account, she began to look at different possibilities and ways to obtain funds in order to continue her project. 

After organizing a 50/50 raffle and receiving friendly donations here and there, she was able to purchase more supplies. But with COVID not going anywhere anytime soon, she found the demand to be surprisingly higher than she originally expected. For this reason, she took the advice of fellow Tribal member, Natosha Gobin.

“She’s doing amazing work,” says Natosha. “Making hand sanitizer can be really pricey, so I set up an Amazon wish list for her and have been encouraging the community to go on there and purchase and send her materials. To see somebody take the initiative and say, I’m going to learn how to make this, I’m going to put my money into it and I’m not going to burden people with the cost, that shows a lot of heart. She didn’t want anything in return. The recognition wasn’t even something she was searching for, it’s just that desire to serve our community. It’s just in our DNA to take care of each other. It’s a perfect example of what our community is.”

“My main focus with everything is our people,” Sarah states. “Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, making sure they had something because there was so much going on. The smiles on their face makes it all worth it for me. I’ve definitely had my emotional moments; I love my people and community. This is more than sanitizer, this could help save a life and it’s made with so much love in it. I also started making alcohol wipes to hand out, for people to use and keep in their cars. With the numbers growing I feel it’s only necessary to do anything I can to help protect our people.”

To make a donation to Sarah’s hand sanitizer project, please contact her directly via Facebook or visit her Amazon wish list to help purchase supplies at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1GIIUU6SBIAV5?type=wishlist

Dolores Jeanne Gula

March 13, 1940 – July 7, 2020

Dolores Jeanne Gula passed away on July 7, 2020 in the comfort of her home surrounded by family who will miss her very much. Doris was born at the Tulalip Indian Hospital on March 13, 1940 to parents James Tory and Gloria St. Germaine (Jones). Doris lived the early years of her life on and around the Tulalip Indian Reservation and in Seattle. She relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada and then to Los Alamos, New Mexico where she earned her Bachelors in Arts degree from the College of Santa Fe in the early 1990’s. She spent her working years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory until she retired in 2001. Doris relocated back to Tulalip with her husband, Bill, to spend their retirement years surrounded by family and loved ones. She loved garage sales, traveling, family and especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She and Bill spent many years traveling to locations within the United States and around the world. Doris is survived by her husband William (Bill) Gula of Tulalip; her children Steven Young, Richard Young (Kris), Dana Krsnadas (Dharma), and Deirdre Marshall; her brothers Mike Dunn Sr., David Tory; and sisters Diane Janes (Bill), Jamie Shockley (Joel), and Pam Hillian (Phillip); her grandchildren Corrina, Krisan, Michael, Jennifer, Seandra, Darrion, Nariyan, Kaviraj, Kalyana, Arjuna, Ambarish, Nathan, Shelby, Rebecca, Samantha, Cidney; and her great grandchildren Marqel, Kileya, Devon, Jaden, Liam, Michael, Keely, Hayleigh, Mykalee, Jaxsyn, Brooklyn, Izaiah, Ross, Presley, Makayla, Chayce, Ryleigh, Izmil, Marilyn, and Drayce.

She is preceded in death by her parents Gloria St. Germaine (Howard) and James Tory (Christine) and her brother, Pat Dunn; daughter-in-law, Wendy Young; and other relatives and friends too numerous to list.

Annual Cedar harvest proves tradition perseveres despite challenging times

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Since time immemorial, Native peoples have lived in an interdependent relationship with the green forests and blue waterways of the Pacific Northwest. Treating the natural environment as a shared resource revolving around the needs of community make it impossible not to have a deep respect for cultural traditions and Mother Nature’s many gifts. 

These teachings have survived genocide, colonialism, forced assimilation and untold traumatic experiences. Even now, amongst a global pandemic, many tribal members look to their cultural foundations for hope and strength. Armed with ancestral knowledge, they know regardless of the adversary, tradition will always persevere.

“I love being in the forest because it’s my second home,” said Tulalip tribal member and virtuoso weaver, Jamie Sheldon. “As Tulalip, nature is our number one priority. Being in the forest gives me calmness and all the sights and sounds bring a peace of mind like no other.” 

After 20 years of perfecting her basket weaving craft, Jamie still speaks about learning the intricate basket making process from her mom and aunties like it was only yesterday. Similar to a beloved holiday, she and her family look forward to Tulalip’s yearly Cedar harvest coordinated by the tribe’s Forestry Division and Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

“Tulalip Forestry has initiated and continued to nurture an ongoing relationship with Washington’s DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, and private industrial timberland owners for over ten years now,” explained Ross Fenton, Tulalip Forestry. “We collaborate with State, Federal, and private landowners in order to ensure treaty rights as they pertain to gathering.

“Different ownership and property boundaries are also of great importance; we don’t want people accidentally pulling on adjacent properties that could affect successful working partnerships,” he continued. “These particulars are where meticulous communication and collaboration with outside agencies take place, often months in advance before the annual Cedar events are announced to Tulalip membership.”

Although the circumstances may be different in summer 2020, the expectations are the same – those whose lifeblood is woven with Cedar must have their time in the forest to harvest.

After extensive time and resources invested into finding the ideal setting, Ross and his colleagues notified the tribe of this year’s harvesting details weeks ago. The location was a woodland oasis located in Startup, between Kellogg Lake and Wallace Falls. 

A 45-minute drive southeast of the Tulalip Reservation, a caravan of tribal members eagerly made the most of their harvest opportunity on the weekend of June 27th. Amongst the spirits of the trees, the culture-bearers found refuge from fearmongering news cycles and the pervasive clutches of social media.

“It’s beautiful getting out of the house, getting out into the woods, and listening to the forest. Hearing the rain fall, the gentle breeze rustle the tree leaves, and the birds chirping just calms my spirit and makes me be able to continue on,” described Sara Andres. She plans to use her harvested materials for future naming ceremonies and as donations to Hibulb Cultural Center’s weaving Wednesdays. 

The relationship Coast Salish peoples have with Cedar cannot be understated. Their ancestors relied on the magnificent tree as an integral part of life on the Northwest Coast. From birth to death, the powerful cedar provided generously for the needs of the people – materially, ceremonially and medicinally. Those teachings have not been lost.

Master weavers, elders, and youth alike all echo the very same Cedar harvesting technique employed by their ancestors. With a small axe and carving knife, they skillfully remove strips of bark from designated trees. They then shave off a small section of the rough bark, revealing a smooth tan inner layer. After harvest, the Cedar strips are typically laid out to dry for a year before being made into baskets, hats, or ceremonial regalia accessories like capes, skirts, and headbands.

“To witness tribal members performing an ongoing cultural activity that has taken place over millennia is like stepping back in time,” reflected dedicated Natural Resources employee, Ross Fenton. “There is much singing, drumming, teaching, and praying all throughout the woods. This is immensely important, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.” 

Those who replenished their sprits in the luscious green forest and grounded themselves among the 120-160 foot tall, towering Cedar trees were sure to offer many thanks for the gifts they provided. 

“It’s eco-therapy. Being connected to the Earth is so good for our mental and spiritual health,” shared 24-year-old Kali Joseph. She harvested while bonding with her siblings Jay Anderson and Tisha McLean. “As Native people, it’s necessary for us to accept the gifts of the land and say thank you to the trees. Harvesting is an activity that is both culturally responsive and healing, especially during these challenging times.”

The weekend-long reprieve from contemporary life proves cultural teachings and tradition still triumph over all.

Elders Eats: Preparing and delivering well-balanced meals

Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“The food is good,” exclaimed Tulalip Elder David Fryberg. “I’m not a very good cook myself so this is convenient. It makes things so much easier when they do this, especially because of the times. One of the things the Tribe does is take care of the elders and I think everybody appreciates it, we’re very thankful that they do this for us.”

Every morning Tribal member and Tulalip Senior Center Community Resource Manager, Lorina Jones wakes up bright and early and journeys to the Senior Center to clock in for her shift at 5:00 a.m. In the remodeled Senior Center kitchen, she is joined by her crew, Nina Fryberg, Troy Williams, Jessica Leslie and Laverne Jones and they begin their daily grind of chopping, cooking and portioning out hot meals for the elders who call Tulalip home.

“I’ve grown up that way,” Lorina stated. “To respect my elders and do whatever I can to help them. We want to do the best we can to serve our people and we take pride in our work, we cook with a good heart.”

Accepting the call to duty, the five-person crew has been in a rhythm since the coronavirus first entered the scene, preparing two meals daily for the local elders. According to Lorina, the amount of meals prepared and delivered has increased by nearly fifty people since the Senior Center expanded their services to include all senior citizens, as well as elders enrolled with a different tribe. 

“Our numbers have almost doubled and there’s less of us in the kitchen because others had to be furloughed, so we’re doing the best we can. We do about 125 breakfasts and 141 lunches each day,” Lorina said. “Before corona, we were doing about 70 breakfasts and around 90 lunches. We serve all types of foods. We try to do things like roast, stew, chowder, NDN tacos once in a while, fish and rice. And for breakfast we do a meat, potato, egg, mixed fruit, yogurt and milk.” 

Tulalip Elder Protection and Vulnerable Adult Program Manager, Elishia Stewart, explained that the program had to undergo a few major adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s such a historical time, trying to figure out methodically what are the next steps,” she expressed. “Right now, we’re basically just focused on the meal program, since everybody is technically homebound. That’s one of the positive ways we can continue to impact our community, by providing them with the best nutrition possible. As a Tribal member, our elders are one of our most valued resources so we need to make sure they are being cared for, that’s been our main function here since COVID.”

Once the meals are portioned and plated, they are placed in large warmer bags to ensure the food remains fresh and retains its heat during the delivery process. Breakfast is served between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. while lunch is served at 10:00 a.m. The crew split up delivering duties to ensure the elders are receiving their meals in a timely fashion. The crew makes deliveries throughout the entire reservation, distributing tasty trays of food to residents of Hermosa, Silver Village, Battle Creek, Mission Highlands, Totem Beach Road, as well as to the elders living closer to the Marysville-Tulalip boundary line.  

“I love it when they give us fresh fruits and vegetables,” Tulalip Elder Pauline Williams expressed. “It saves us trips to the grocery store and all I really have to fix is an evening meal. It works for us. Lorina knows I don’t like to cook; I’d rather eat her cooking. It forces me to stay home. When I do go out, I try to be safe, I wear my mask and I go early in the morning when there’s not a lot of people out. It’s a real safety issue for us right now and I’m thankful for these deliveries. The cooks are risking their lives right now cooking for us and delivering it, and we appreciate them.”

To limit contact, Lorina and crew attempt to safely leave the meals at their front door. However, due to loneliness from isolation, many elders will meet the team at the door for a chance to quickly chat, catch up, and simply thank them for the meal. 

“It makes my heart happy knowing we’re able to provide them with at least two meals a day,” said Lorina. “It saves them from having to go out and look for food, or that extra meal, on their own and put their lives at risk. We always wear our masks and gloves when delivering. We change our gloves after every delivery. We want to protect ourselves and our elders. I love you all and hope you stay safe.”

For further details, please feel free to contact Elishia Stewart at (360) 913-1726.