#NAHM17 Native Advocacy Leaders: Julia Kelly

#NAHM17 Native Advocacy Leaders: Julia Kelly

This Native American Heritage Month (#NAHM17), Native Americans in Philanthropy honors Native advocacy leaders like Julia Kelly:

What is my cause? I found this a difficult question because I help people. That is such a general cause. Today, I volunteer with local organizations for many different reasons: fundraising, building homes, and visiting Elders in the Veteran Home. I volunteer time with First Nations Women Warriors, with a current project in Woodstock, Georgia. Renovating a home to give away to a Veteran in need.

What brought me to being this giving and caring person has been my own personal struggles. I grew up with Apsaalooke traditions. Those traditions were not always followed as I grew up in home with alcoholism and domestic violence. I then fell into that cycle of being abused until I left home to enter the military in 1980. Being an angry, hurt, and beat up young woman I let all my traditions go. I did not talk about where I was from. I let it all go. I lost my identity. I found my way again in Traditions as I got older and 15 years later. I realized what I had done.

Today, as a Kaala (Grandma), an Elder, I went through this cycle to be who I am now. The power of Native traditions of Prayer and ceremony has been there for me. Those Traditions has helped me manage through any situation. Those Traditions has enabled me to give guidance in the ways that I have been taught. I now teach/mentor that guidance to the younger women and men.

What motivates me to stay involved, I have and still am battling complex PTSD of many traumas. If I can see “Hope” and manage through the day, I want to see “Hope” in the faces of those who I help. No matter how small of the effort whether it’s taking the time to talk, monetary or gifting other items, I see “Hope” in that person. That is all that matters to me. I Pray that they see they are worthy of life and will continue.

The current cause I am advocating is bringing awareness that there are many Native Women Veterans out there who need to know they are Veterans. That there are resources to help them when in need. I encourage all Veterans who do not take the time to enroll in veteran benefits to do so.

I say this all the time, “Volunteer in your Community”. If you want to get involved and make a difference look at what needs to be done in your community. Make it one of your goals. Volunteer with an established group or start your own cause. Help in bringing awareness to a cause you feel needs attention. Educate yourself with information and connect with people to help in your cause.

Join the Circle of Native advocacy leaders. Become a member of Native Americans in Philanthropy here.