Nenana Wellness Coalition


28th of August, 2007

The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.

There were 12 people at meeting today including: Tim & Carl Horn, Laura Vance, Bonnie Reed, Kat McElroy Maryellen & Sam Kanayurak, Mike Anderson, George Albert, Tom Titus, Walter Tommy and Miles Martin. RMHA provided a lunch of sandwiches and watermelon.

We had broccoli cheese soup for lunch along with smoked salmon, smoked summer (bear) sausage, crackers, smoked salmon spread, and mixed fresh veggies.

WELCOME and the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: Welcome and mission statement read by this week’s chair person, Laura Vance. This week’s prayer was led by Tom Titus, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.

PRESENTATION OF AGENDA; CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS – Laura presented the agenda. George Albert requested an issue to be added.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Miles took minutes last week and sent them to Kat. She forwarded them electronically to the WIN e-list. She provided hard copy at the meeting for any to peruse.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Tom Titus was welcomed by all. Walter Tommy and George Albert have been to previous WIN meetings.


Search & Rescue Project –George says he and Uncle Mo have been trying to start an Nenana Search & Rescue squad. They have two boats but are looking for engines for them. They are also interested in getting snow-gos. He said they have looked at various options including Defense Reutilization & Marketing Service. They are looking for support and leads on funding. Sam asked about the Coast Guard as they are in charge of navigatable waters. Walter mentioned that Shirley Dementieff got help from the Boy Scouts of America when she was organizing search efforts. George said he will be asking the barge lines for donations.

Mental Health Stigma- Kat passed out copies of blurbs Traci printed from the National Mental Health Awareness web site: http// of Mental Health Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s). Each highlights specific questions or issues regarding mental health. She talked about the stigma that often prevents people from obtaining effective mental health treatment including the internal barriers of shame or denial as well as the external barriers of other people’s misunderstanding, prejudice and fears. She talked about the difficulties experienced by people who have a family member with a mental illness as they struggle to understand what is happening to their loved one and to deal with the problems that will create in their lives. She spoke of the many myths about mental illness and cited this web site as a good start at dispelling such myths. “Information is power,” Kat believes. She encouraged others to go to this web site if they are interested in getting more information. The web site also has a good resources list. Miles suggested that someone should use the information in these hand-outs to make short articles for the Nenana Messenger.

Dancing in the Streets – Laura reported that the parade is scheduled for 4:30 PM, followed directly after by dinner at the Civic Center at 5 PM. The parade will be down the main street, starting at 6th street and going all the way down to the Depot building. The dinner menu as provided by Mike was approved and features halibut and bar-b-qued chicken. The band will be Loose Gravel from Healy. The dance will be at the pavilion down by the river. There will be a bon-fire. The Nenana Lions will be providing beverages including coffee and hot chocolate and as well as hot dogs and marshmallows. There was some question about whether the city has approved closing off the street for the parade but Laura has talked to Jason and that has been reconciled. Tom has agreed, per Maryellen’s request, to organize a motorcycle Ride For Sobriety to coincide with the parade. He talked about the challenges of organizing a group of bikers to do anything in a timely and efficient fashion. He had questions about the route logistics.

It isn’t for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security.
–Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Most of us are on a long uphill climb at this moment. It is a climb we are making together, and yet a climb we can’t do for each other. I can reach out my hand to you, and you can grasp my hand in return. But my steps are my own, just as you too, can only take one-step at a time.

For brief periods we skip, even run, along the uphill path. The rocks and the occasional boulder momentarily trip us up. We need patience and trust that the summit is still achievable. We can help one another have patience. We can remind one another to trust.

We look back at the periods that devastated us so long ago. And now we are here. We have climbed this far. We are stronger, saner, and more secure. Each step makes easier the next step – each step puts us on more solid ground.

I may run into some rocks or even a boulder today. I have stepped around them in the past. I will do so again.
You are reading from the book: Each Day a New Beginning by Karen Casey


NEW BUSINESS—None reported.


Bonnie Reed said that TCCC graduation will be at the Civic Center Thursday at 10:30 AM followed by a potluck lunch.

George said that Nenana Native Council is trying to take on the TCCC program as TCC in Fairbanks no longer wants to run it. No changes are anticipated. It would still be an Americorp program. NNC’s interest is in keeping the program here in Nenana. Apparently there has been speculation about moving TCCC to Delta.

RMHA – Kat said that the AA picnic Sunday was a big success. She thanked the Seniors for their support and participation. Nine clients from Fairbanks Native Association Long House Program came down and really enjoyed the sun and food. She noted the Ralph Perdue program in Fairbanks has indeed closed their residential treatment program. This is due to funding cuts and we shall likely see fewer treatment beds all around the state as treatment funding continues to be cut. This engendered a discussion on sober transitional housing. Tom said he would like to have a sober camp somewhere near, not like Old Minto, a program, but just a place where people can come and be when they are trying to heal up. Sam agreed that this would be good. He pointed out how difficult it is for people when they first come into recovery: issues of housing, employment and sober support. Miles asked about Railbelt’s attempts to look into sober transitional housing. Kat said that Railbelt does not feel capable of obtaining the funding the state said would be needed to build a new structure; it’s just too much money. Mortgage payments cannot be made from our state grants. She mentioned her friend Scottie in Fairbanks who runs a sober house out of what originally was a derelict and abandoned building. This fits more into the vision that WIN seems to have of a project that would be of immediate benefit to the participants. Kat agreed to bring material to meeting next week and get sober transitional housing onto the agenda.

Carl Horn said that Nenana Student Living Center is still actively recruiting students; current enrollment is 65. School board meeting will be next Tuesday at 6:30 PM, either in the Pit or the school library.

Tom Titus was asked if he is living in Nenana now. He said that this was the intention but he and his wife are experiencing difficulty with Office of Children’s Services regarding the planned relocation from Fairbanks as they are foster parents to three special needs children whom OCS insist need to be in Fairbanks to receive needed services. Tom & Theresa want to adopt these children and brought them to Nenana this summer so they could experience Alaska Native culture including fish camp activities. Somebody complained to OCS that this is too dangerous for the children. Tom says they feel very much stymied in their efforts to provide culturally for the children. He is aware that services would be available to the children through local resources including RMHA and NCPS. Tom also said that he wants to have a tea as a send-off party for Walter Tommy who is leaving October 1st to South Carolina where he intends to be married. Discussion ensued regarding time, place, and logistics. Tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 22, at the Native Hall, around 6PM. George will check on use of the hall with NNC.

Sam Kanayurak said that he is also interested in looking into sober transitional housing. If it is true that people will face longer waiting lists as the number of treatment slots available diminishes due to funding cuts and programs closing, what will happen when people say they want to stop drinking? What resources will be available for them? He mentioned Oxford House type options he learned about in the Seattle area. He wonders if this could be an option in Nenana for our people. Discussion ensued regarding various aspects of sober transitional housing WIN has explored over the past three or four years.

Tim Horn passed out prayer cards. She said that the Bahai’i are hoping to get 5000 Alaskans to pray regularly for the well being of children.

Adjournment at 2:03 P.M.