by Dr. Gary Ferguson
I have always been drawn to RurAL CAP’s vision of Healthy People, Sustainable Communities, and Vibrant Cultures. Being a partner with RurAL CAP on statewide wellness projects in the past, I now look forward to contributing in a deeper and more meaningful way as the Chief Executive Officer. I am excited to be a part of RurAL CAP’s legacy in improving the lives of Alaskans for over 50+ years. Our mission is to empower low-income Alaskans through advocacy, education, affordable housing and direct services that respect our unique values and cultures. It is a poignant time in Alaska history, and our mission is especially critical in assisting communities on their path to sustainability and well-being.
In my short time at RurAL CAP, I have witnessed the continued movement towards our vision. In November, RurAL CAP opened a new permanent supportive housing facility in Anchorage located at 325 East Third Avenue. The newly remodeled Housing First facility includes 20 units for homeless individuals experiencing mental and physical disabilities. The tenants receive services built upon the principles of self-advocacy and skill building as pathways to permanent housing and community reintegration. Tenants of the housing have access to the following operational and supportive services: year round 24/7 staffing for operations; case management support; staff to conduct substance abuse, mental health assessments and therapeutic services; crisis intervention services; employment services and housing support staffing. The facility is centrally located in downtown Anchorage, making community integration activities reasonably accessible. The area is conducive to walking, public transportation and bike-friendly for tenants and is in a mixed residential and commercial area. As of the end of the year, the facility is already at full capacity. RurAL CAP will be working from the Anchorage Coordinated Entry of Care System to fill any units that become available in the future. Housing is a basic necessity that greatly contributes to health. As we address these social and economic determinants of well-being, we treat the root causes of poor health.
Other exciting news, as I start with RurAL CAP, is the recognition of Community members and staff at the annual meeting of the RurAL CAP Board of Directors in December. Community Service Awards were presented to Akeela Stepping Stones, Alaska Afterschool Network, and Alaska Project Development.
Akeela Stepping Stones is a residential drug and alcohol treatment program offering services for pregnant women and women with children. The program is unique in Alaska in that women are permitted to bring their children to live with them in the treatment facility. Parents as Teachers and Akeela Stepping Stones partner to offer individualized Parents as Teachers home visits and parent education support for Akeela residents. Group parenting classes are an option for interested women. Due to the tremendous response and interest from Akeela residents, PAT now offers a weekly parenting series titled “Purposeful Parenting”. Purposeful Parenting includes Brain Basics – highlighting the important role parents have in the healthy development and “wiring” of their child’s brain. Combining parenting education classes with home visits is a promising practice for successful outcomes for families at risk. RurAL CAP would like to thank and recognize Akeela Stepping Stones for their active involvement in this innovative partnership aimed at creating positive change in the lives of families with young children.
The Alaska Afterschool Network was created in 2013 by the Alaska Children’s Trust to support, strengthen, and advocate for quality afterschool programs for children, youth, and families. The organization convenes a statewide network of nonprofit, private, tribal, and government organizations that promote high quality afterschool activities as a critical component in the positive development of Alaska’s youth. Since its inception, the Alaska Afterschool Network has partnered with RurAL CAP to collectively support village-based youth workers engaging Alaska Native youth in afterschool activities. Our organizations have worked hand-in-hand to identify needs, gather resources, share best practices, and facilitate training events that benefit rural providers working on-the-ground with youth. This partnership has increased RurAL CAP’s connection to statewide partners serving Native youth, improved the quality of our trainings, and strengthened our outreach to rural communities. Thank you, Alaska Afterschool Network, for the teamwork promoting the well-being of Alaska Native youth!
The Alaska Project Development is a real estate investment company whose principals are John McGrew, Glenn Gellert and Ron and Marlene Batemen. The company was founded in 2013 to pursue commercial real estate development opportunities. Alaska Project Development has been working with RurAL CAP for several years and assisted with the real estate acquisition of Karluk Manor. Alaska Project Development was RurAL CAP’s partner and developer for the new 325 East Third building and is our consultant for the development of Muldoon Gardens. Their low income housing tax credit knowledge and expertise has been invaluable to RurAL CAP moving these housing projects forward. Their work with us will take 43 more people off the streets of Anchorage and ensure their safety and security in these new housing projects.
I am impressed with our staff’s longevity at RurAL CAP. It speaks to passion for service to our low income population as well as a fertile ground in manifesting our life’s work. I join our
Board of Directors in recognizing our staff for their 10, 20, and 30 years of service!
30 Years of Service:
Belinda Zackery (31 years)
20 Years of Service:
Roxanne Martin (22 years)
10 Years of Service:
We could not accomplish our mission without strong partners and employees. I am expectant of a bright future for RurAL CAP, as we continue to grow our partnerships throughout our great State and support our dedicated employees to realize RurAL CAP’s vision.