SCAIR hosts GONA at Santee Lakes

By Roy Cook

This year the SCAIR, Gathering of Native Americans-GONA, was held at the Santee lakes Recreation Preserve on March 28, 2013 from 9:30am-3pm. It was attended by Southern California American Indian Resource and Tribal temporary Assistance for Needy families, SCAIR-TANF, Indian children and their parents. Early on SCAIR Board President Bill Johnson and the SCAIR staff were busily setting up the entertainment areas and under the large shade for the GONA event, Wanda Michaelis, SCAIR Executive Director was greeting and seating the early and late arrivals to this annual GONA Spring event.

Warm smiles of greeting along with hot coffee or juice and bottled water with toothsome varieties of fruits and sweet rolls fill this mid-morning until the formal opening of the event. Springing into action is SCAIR Project co-coordinator, Frank Pancucci. He sketched out the schedule for the GONA event at Santee lakes. Frank then called upon Steve Garcia to say a few words. Steve acknowledged the wisdom and lessons taught by Randy Edmonds over the years. Steve also spoke to the spirituality of the SCAIR facility services and staff. Frank introduced Wanda Michaelis and SCAIR Board President, Bill Johnson. Bill then called upon Randy Edmonds for the events blessing. Randy delivered a Kiowa Tribal blessing for all at this time of new growth and pointed out our American Indian tradition of gathering together and generosity will continue with this new generation. This location is available in large part to the support and generosity of Bill Pomnering, President of the Padre Dam Water Board. He also provided the nutritional experience selections. He was accompanied at the opening by Bill Pommering also: Mr. Johnathan Skinner, Parks & Recreation Director, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve and Mr. Allen Carlisle, CEO and General Manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District.

A sunny, breezy day greeted the children, families and friends as they moved about enjoying the planned events and entertainments. There were many creative designs from the face painting area and the photo booth was popular too. Along with a playground gym there were: Hula hoops, jump rope, volleyball, paint palettes and crayons for the younger or inclined creative youth. Additionally there are jump ropes, football tarp, craft tables, tug of war egg spoon race, potato sack race, parachute and bill rainbow ball fun; the splash area had a water snake for bubbles and a chance to get soaked! The day’s finale is an egg hunt to fill the individual baskets. Late afternoon saw tired but happy smiles full of goodies and excitement filing back on the bus to return to the El Cajon SCAIR office. Others whom drive themselves collected their family and gave a last look to the beautiful surroundings of the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. See you at the next event.