NOVEMBER: Native Americans, veterans, sweet potatoes and caregivers

NOVEMBER 2014—Crisp autumn breezes deepen into November’s chilling winds—a reminder that snow is just around the corner for much of the United States. This month, American families and friends gather for warm Thanksgiving dinners. In honor of the Native American Indians who shared the first Thanksgiving with Pilgrims—and to recognize their continued contributions today—November is National Native American Heritage Month.

Americans also will hear a lot about four diseases with special awareness campaigns each November: Diabetes, Alzheimers, lung cancer and AIDS. On November 11, don’t forget to thank a veteran: it’s Veterans Day in the United States, Remembrance Day in Canada and Armistice Day internationally. Food lovers embrace November as Sweet Potato Awareness Month and Peanut Butter Lovers Month, but go easy on the turkey and whipping cream—it’s also Vegan Month. As families gather around the Thanksgiving table, give thanks for growing families and for those who care for others, because November is National Adoption Month and National Family Caregivers Month.

Check out these month-long highlights …


Pay tribute to the Native American culture that has shaped America, from its environmental stewardship to literature, medicine and values,  during National Native American Heritage Month. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association approved a plan concerning an American Indian Day, and by 1916, American Indian Day was declared by the governor of New York. Observances began taking root across the country, until Congress authorized the President to proclaim a full week for Native Americans, in 1986. Just four years later, in 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating the entire month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. This year, President Obama issued a proclamation that declared November National Native American Heritage Month (the proclamation can be viewed here). The 2014 theme is: “Native Pride and Spirit: Yesterday, Today and Forever.”


Hundreds of thousands of children and youth are living in foster care in America today. More than 100,000 of them are waiting for adoptive families—and thousands more are waiting overseas. Take time this month to learn more about adoption. Spread awareness of this issue through supportive events, promotion via social media or just sharing information with friends. Every child adopted makes a difference (learn more from the U.S. Children’s Bureau). The first promotion of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care began in Massachusetts, in 1976. President Gerald Ford made the first National Adoption Week proclamation, and in 1990, the effort had spread to a month-long awareness campaign. This year, National Adoption Month’s theme is “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections.” Check out the video by JooYeun Chang, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, and then share the information with local representatives, friends and neighbors.


More than 60 million Americans are family caregivers today and in November, awareness is raised through National Family Caregivers Month. (Read the Presidential proclamation here.) The estimated value of services provided by family caregivers is more than $300 billion each year, ranging from emotional, financial and nursing assistance to homemaking and nursing. (Find resources, support and more from the Caregiver Action Network.) Caregiving can be a full-time job or part-time; family care can be shared among siblings or carried by just one person. National Family Caregivers Month advocates stronger public policies to address family caregiving issues, for the multitude of burdens placed upon entire families. Looking to help? Offer respite time to a family caregiver, send a card of appreciation, help a caregiver with holiday chores or ask members of a faith community to pray for and help a congregation member. Not sure what to do? Just ask the caregiver—he or she will likely know exactly what is most needed.

Care to read more?

ReadTheSpirit Books publishes the popular and helpful, A Guide for Caregivers by Benjamin Pratt. If you’re a caregiver, you’ll enjoy this book’s short chapters and savvy advice on wide range of topics. Consider getting a copy for yourself—or as a gift for a friend, this month. Learn all about the book by clicking on its cover.

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