Roshan Spottsville: Blog en-us (C) Roshan Spottsville (Roshan Spottsville) Thu, 04 Mar 2021 18:43:00 GMT Thu, 04 Mar 2021 18:43:00 GMT Roshan Spottsville: Blog 120 120 Good Humans Project - Jennifer Touchine ©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

In Navajo culture, babies are kept in Awee' Tsaal (Navajo for cradleboard) to keep them safe and secure. These cradleboards are usually made of cedar wood. Babies are first swaddled in a blanket then laid on the board, the leather strips are laced to secure the newborn. Families will make or purchase these wooden cradleboards when a new child is expected and they are blessed with corn pollen, songs and prayers before the baby is born and placed in it. Cradleboards carry many sacred Navajo teachings that are usually shared with the parents during the pregnancy and then passed down through generations.

In 2019, Jennifer Touchine, originally from Gallup, NM, made plans to start a non-profit to work with expectant Navajo parents to teach parenting skills and provide support throughout pregnancy. The Bringing Baby Home program would be offered to couples who would be having a baby that was at least a quarter Navajo. When the couple’s baby arrived, she would gift them with a Navajo cradleboard and continue to provide parenting services to them. Her plans were to start with Navajo cradleboards and later expand to do the same for other tribes.

She found a cradleboard maker from Lukachukai, Arizona in 2019 and ordered 10 to start her organization. When her order was complete, Jennifer had plans to start her organization but, life had other plans for her as she juggled the responsibilities of working full-time and being a mother to her daughter Nizhoni. She didn’t have the time that was needed for the program so in January she decided that if she didn’t start the program by March, she would donate the cradleboards to Navajo mothers.

©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

In March, Jennifer decided it was time to give the cradleboards away. She wanted to give the cradleboards to Navajo mothers in hopes that they would keep them as a keepsake and that it would be a connection to learn and teach others about the traditional teachings about the cradleboards. It would be a way to encourage mothers to learn about their culture.

When she was giving away the cradleboards, she enjoyed connecting with the mothers and feeling like she was helping to continue cultural teachings. She had many mothers reach out and she would contact them about two weeks before their due dates to give them the boards. She says that it was a great feeling when she received photos from the mother’s with their babies in the cradleboards.

On November 11, 2020, I met with Jennifer to take some photos of her and the last cradleboard. Later that afternoon, she was referred to someone who was looking for one. She says she became unexpectedly emotional when she gave away that cradleboard and felt a sense of closure. She questioned if she should look for donations to continue doing this for new parents. 

©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville ©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

For now, Jennifer is taking time to focus on being a mother, her mental health, and her job. She will re-visit this program again later and may move forward with starting the organization. She has so many ideas she wants to implement into this program and hopefully, down the road, she will be able to make it happen.

Jennifer, thank you so much for making the investment for these babies. They will start their lives being swaddled in your kindness, generosity and blessed with your thoughts of love and appreciation of your culture. I hope that one day, everything will align and your program will become a reality so that many more families will be blessed with these amazing gifts. Ahe’hee!


(Roshan Spottsville) Awee' Tsaal mother navajo navajo cradle board navajo cradleboard navajo culture navajo mother navajo teachings non-profit Tue, 17 Nov 2020 03:29:40 GMT
Good Humans Project - Arlette Pender ©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

On the stoops of New York, Arlette Pender who is Brooklyn born and raised, began her journey in the natural hair care industry. She began braiding hair after being inspired by her mother who did hair for women in their home, or as it was called then, a “kitchen beautician.” Although her mother did hair, she didn’t know how to braid so Arlette taught herself how to braid by practicing on Barbie dolls and by braiding the hair of a little girl she babysat. Later, she started doing hair for more little girls in the neighborhood for no charge.

In 1974, Arlette wanted to attend dance classes and her mother told her she couldn’t afford to pay for them so Arlette started charging $8 to braid hair so she would be able to pay for the classes. She later raised her price to $12 but ended up not taking the dance classes because she was making money and enjoyed doing hair.  She developed a reputation in New York for doing hair, her business began to grow and she opened her first salon. Over time, Arlette was doing hair for celebrities, music videos and publications such as Sophisticate's Black Hair Styles, Ebony and Essence. and her work was featured on the cover of some of these magazines.

She moved to Arizona with her daughter in June 2005. As soon as she arrived, she started looking for a place to do hair. She found Hair Society on the south side of Phoenix but she didn’t work there long because it was too far. Next she started working at Uzuri Salon in Old Town Scottsdale but that didn’t last long either. She met a woman from Signature Salon Studios that encouraged her to open her own salon and that’s where Hairloks by Arlette has been since July 15, 2005 which was just a month and a half after moving to Phoenix. It was in this salon that Arlette developed her clientele, trained other stylists, and would go on to receive the Master Pioneer Award for being a trailblazer of the natural hair care industry in 2015.

©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville ©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

Arlette laughed as she recalled how the My Hair is Beautiful program started. In 2011, she wanted to sell t-shirts. She was inspired by a shirt that she saw that said “I My Hair” so she came up with “My Hair is Beautiful” and started to sell the shirts at an expo in 2011. People were buying the shirts and asking what the phrase was and asking if it was a program and she said it was even though it hadn’t actually become a program yet. This led her to receiving a message from Catherine who, at the time, was the project coordinator for the Mary J. Blige Center for Women. As a big fan of Mary J. Blige, Arlette was excited and developed a program to pitch to the organization. They accepted her proposal and it was started in the beginning of 2012.

My Hair is Beautiful is Arlette’s signature mentoring program for girls 5-18 years old to inspire dreams, encourage entrepreneurship and teach self-love. Mentors in various professions are invited to share with the girls about their careers and are asked to share a story of a time they struggled to show that success isn’t easy. During the programming, the young ladies learn positive affirmations, work on building confidence, and interact through therapeutic play. The program bridges a gap between cultures through different types of hair. Her goal is to create an inspirational cycle by reaching girls who will then set an example for their peers and future children.

Since it is her way of giving back to her clients and community, she has never charged for the program, even when she had to fly back and forth to upstate New York for the Mary J. Blige Center for Women once a month and later when she would start the My Hair is Beautiful program in Arizona. Mentors donate their time, sponsors donate supplies and she covers everything else that is needed on her own.  

During the program, Arlette finds herself getting emotional at least once at every event. Some of her favorite parts are when the girls are reading the creed and they say “I am {insert name} and I am beautiful.” She watches the girls read this and some of them are shy, some of them are sassy, some believe it as they read it, but she loves that each girl gets to say that phrase out loud. She also loves the “Walk of Confidence” where Camille Sledge shows the young ladies how to walk like they are in a fashion show with their head up and shoulders back because it teaches them that the way they carry themselves impacts how others perceive them. Lastly, at the end of each event, each girl is given a swag bag of goodies such as personal hygiene items, school supplies, and other fun things. Arlette loves to see the smiles on their faces as they go through their bags.

©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

Personal experience played a role in the creation of the My Hair is Beautiful program. When Arlette was growing up, she was always vocal and straight forward which was perceived by others as a negative trait. She became introverted because parents judged her for being so vocal. She feels that young girls shouldn’t have to feel bad about who they are and how they look. They should be taught that they can be whatever they want to and be successful in their own terms. She feels that creatives and intellectuals learn differently but everyone plays a role in society of equal importance.

If she had been able to attend similar programming when she was a little girl, Arlette feels she wouldn’t have internalized the negative comments from others. She says that she might have known that her peers were dealing with the same things. She doesn’t feel it would’ve changed anything about her professionally but personally, it would have improved her self-esteem and would have taught her to love herself just the way she was.

Arlette shares that she runs this program from her heart because she loves young people and sometimes forgets what an impact the things she does has on other people so she is surprised when blessings come back to her from people. There have been multiple events for the My Hair is Beautiful program including one in the Phoenix Public Library for 75 girls that was featured on NPR which had tickets that were being scalped by people even though they were free because there was such a demand to attend.

Hairloks by Arlette will be releasing a new product on November 15, 2020. There will be more programs and events with My Hair is Beautiful when the current pandemic is gone. If you are interested in learning more about the My Hair is Beautiful program, would like to attend, be a mentor, or become a sponsor you can go to

Arlette, thank you for encouraging little girls to love themselves and inspiring them to make their dreams come true. For some of these young ladies, it might be the first time the receive this message and for many, it may be life changing. You're appreciated for the difference you are making and teaching us all to be proud of the crowns we were born with. ❤


(Roshan Spottsville) Arizona Natural Hair Care Industry Arlette Pender Brooklyn encourage hairloks by arlette inspire love yourself just the way you are motivate my hair is beautiful Natural Hair Care New York self-love Mon, 02 Nov 2020 02:29:36 GMT
Good Humans Project - Laureen Chischilly ©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville ©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

Laureen Chischilly who is Navajo and lives in Phoenix, Arizona recalled when her son Marcus enlisted in the Marines right after he finished high school in 2005. She worried about him and frequently prayed for his safety. It was a difficult adjustment for Laureen, her husband Josh, and their four daughters, Sheila, Gabrielle, Michelle, and Shantelle when Marcus left. She remembers that she was happy when they were able to start sending Marcus care packages with non-perishable foods, snacks, and personal hygiene items as often as they could. She never could have guessed that this would be the start of the difference she would make in the lives of so many members of the military.

It all began when Laureen’s son told her about someone he knew that never got any mail or packages. She took it upon herself to start sending this soldier packages too. Over time, the Chischilly family started doing this for more people and eventually her dining room table was covered with care packages that they were filling. They were sending packages to about 50 soldiers a month which Laureen says was quite an expense and it was becoming a bit much for them to purchase all the food, toiletries and other items that they were putting in the care packages. 

©️ 2020 Roshan Spottsville

After being introduced to Packages from Home, she became a dedicated volunteer and spent countless hours setting up booths to gather donations and putting together care packages. According to the official website, they have three branches in their organization which are Packages from Home, Bones from Home, and Packages for Hope. Packages from Home, the original mission, was to send care packages to active military members stationed overseas. Bones from Home provides packages to K9 military teams and veteran service animals. Packages for Hope began in 2012 and provides care packages to transitioning homeless and at-risk veterans. 

Unfortunately, their story took a devastating turn in October 2010 when Marcus was seriously injured when he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. Laureen recalls that he had been deployed 3 times previously to Iraq but when he was deployed to Afghanistan, she had a bad feeling. “Something was different, it just didn’t feel right” Laureen recalled. They were just returning from a veterans event when she received the called that her son had stepped on an IED and was in serious condition. Laureen says that she fell to the floor devastated with the news. Their family was unable to see him for 3 days as he was flown from Afghanistan to Germany and finally back to the US on the third day. Laureen and Josh went to see him in a Maryland hospital. When they arrived, Marcus’ status was unstable, doctor’s were unsure if he would survive the injuries or if he would lose both legs. Thankfully, although he lost a leg and other injuries to his other leg and right arm, Marcus spent two years recovering and is doing well and living with his family in California.

When her son was home, Laureen asked herself if maybe it was time to stop doing the packages but she couldn’t bring herself to end it. She would think of the soldiers that didn’t have anything and couldn’t bear to not continue sending the care packages. At first, she was a volunteer for the organization but today she is the Vice-President of the board and you can catch her along with her supportive family at many events with a table sharing information and collecting donations. Josh shares that when they are at these events, they meet Veterans who will sometimes pass by the table a couple times before they stop to have a conversation. The Chischilly’s shared that they like that the Veteran’s will share their stories with them and sometimes it seems as if a weight is lifted from the Veterans as they tell their stories and experiences. Laureen and her family feel like being able to reach soldiers when they are overseas and then connecting with Veterans when they return is rewarding and it’s why they continue to be involved with this organization.

It’s often said that there is nothing more powerful than the love of a mother and Laureen’s story is example of that. She took a difficult time in her life and turned it into something that is making a huge difference in the lives of so many members of the military.

Laureen, thank you for being a light to those who are in a dark place, feel homesick and alone. Your countless hours of service is appreciated and inspiring. Ahe’hee!

If you would like more information about Packages from Home or would like to get involved, please visit their website at .


(Roshan Spottsville) A Mother's Love afghanistan arizona care Care Packages Chischilly community dedication deployment donations iraq marines military military family military mom military resources mother Navajo Soldier Navajo Woman packages phoenix soldiers veterans volunteer Fri, 25 Sep 2020 16:25:10 GMT
Good Humans Project - Az Warriors


Several Native American young men stand in the center circle of a basketball court and are asked to answer the question "Who are you dedicating this practice to?" Each player responds acknowledging a parent, their family, or another important person in their life. Coach Rob Johnston talks to the players about why the team is called the Warriors and explains the significance of living up to the name in school, on the court, and in everyday life. At most practices, these young men are given life lessons along with basketball training from their coach and they always listen intently which shows the respect they have for their coaches.

As I began this project, the Warriors coaches were one of the first people that came to mind. I got to know them when my son joined the team last year and I noticed right away that this team was run differently than most. Native American youth are often faced with a different set of challenges than a lot of their non-Native peers and one challenge is the lack of opportunities in their communities for sports training. Athletes are usually left on their own to train for sports during the off season. In the Phoenix area, the Az Warriors have filled this gap and provide quality basketball training with built-in mentors who provide opportunities to compete in tournaments such as the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI). It's obvious how invested the Warriors coaches are even throughout the school basketball season as they make it a point to go to a school game for each player. My son was surprised to see them at two of his games and their support meant a lot to him. 

The Az Warriors basketball team started in 1995. Initially, they were comprised of only players from the Salt River Community with a mission to engage the youth in promoting healthy lifestyles. There were boys and girls teams for all ages. Today, the Warriors team is open to all high school Native youth and they welcome any players that want to be a part of the team without tryouts. The number of teams depends on how many players are participating in the program. Over time, the program has changed their goal to being an athletic leadership development program. The coaches strive to provide opportunities for leadership and personal development for the players while playing the game they love. They provide a circle of support for the youth and help athletes achieve their goals in athletics, education and life in general.

This unique basketball program runs under the Native Wellness Institute, which is a non-profit organization with a mission to help Native communities heal and move forward from the impacts of historical and inter-generational trauma. This mission is carried on with the Warriors basketball program as they work to build confidence in the players by focusing on their athletic ability and basketball skills, all while challenging them to work as hard as their ancestors did.

Another display of dedication is that all of the Warriors coaches are volunteers who are former players. Robert Johnston is the head coach of the Varsity team and oversees the program. Cody Blackwater is the assistant coach. The JV team is led by head coach Tyren King and Stanford Vasquez who is the assistant coach. Tyren King and Hank Hibbler are also trainers for the team as well as the Ventura Basketball academy.

Coach Rob shares that he sees the program as a modern day Warrior society. By participating, the player are taught about respect, community, honoring elders and women, to be winners on and off the courts, and to be champions of change. The popular term for Native basketball is “rez ball.” This term is not encouraged by the Warriors program as they feel it is limiting to the players’ abilities and any limiting styles or mindsets can hinder growth and potential in competitive sports.

When asked what sets the program apart from others, Coach Rob responds by stating that the Warriors do not consider themselves a club team but more of a developmental program. He states that the program isn’t just focused on wins. They focus on helping each individual player be the best they can be. In conclusion, he shares “I can say as a coach my favorite moments aren’t seeing a player holding up a championship trophy, but rather seeing them holding up a college diploma.”



The Warriors program ongoing goals are to provide instructional videos for players all over the world that follow them, to provide more camps and clinics for younger players and to continue community outreach. They also plan on continuing to build relationships with Indigenous people from other countries through their World Indigenous Sports Exchange program.

This basketball program is like no other. It might not have the “big name” players or be on the “elite” circuits but there is no question that this program is one-of-a-kind in that they are invested in the success of each of their players on and off the courts. They have a true family atmosphere and it’s obvious that the players have a great amount of respect for their coaches. It’s not about trophies and bragging rights but more about watching each player be the best they can be and reach their goals. There’s no mystery as to why alumni players come back to help the program and remain involved years after they played for the team

You are appreciated Az Warriors coaches past and present. Thank you for investing your time & resources into the team. Thank you for giving the gift of opportunity and mentorship. There’s no doubt you are showing your players by example how to be champions of change.




(Roshan Spottsville) arizona arizona basketball athletes Az Warriors basketball community dedication development goals good humans high school Inspiration Inspirational Stories mentors NABI Native American Basketball Native Wellness Institute NWI program salt river sports team training Warriors youth Tue, 25 Aug 2020 01:51:48 GMT