Nenana Wellness Coalition


October 6, 2009

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, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.

There were 17 in attendance today, including: David Poppe, Kat McElroy, John Grimes, Bill & Rebecca Troxel, Miles & Irene Martin, Tim Horn, Mary & Wes Alexander, Brian & Gabrielle Blair, Terry & Art Thompson, Merrily Verhagen and Walter & Andrea Tommy. We enjoyed tamale pie, pasta salad, cucumber salad, mixed fruit and nuts, Ritz crackers and sliced cheese and sliced apples for lunch.

WELCOME: By this week’s chairperson: Rebecca Troxel, followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT.

PRAYER: Was lead by Brian Blair, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.

PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There was one addition to the agenda.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes were taken by Bonnie last week; they will be forwarded to Kat by Tim to post.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: No new participants this week.


Sober Housing: Kat McElroy reports that the sober cabin project has been stalled due to deaths in the family. David Poppe continues clearing the building space; trees have been removed and a rough roadway put in so that equipment can access the lot for dirt work. We hope to be able to complete the structure before the deep cold. There is a resident utilizing the RV the use of which the Verhagen’s donated to the sober housing project. He and David have been weatherizing the RV as the temperature drops. Freecycle: Our next Free-cycle is scheduled for October 17th at 5 P.M. Use of the tribal hall has been reserved. Miles Martin volunteered to start the fire early in the day so the hall will be warmed up. There will be pot luck and a movie. Envisioning Wellness: Tim Horn has made flyers for the presentation next week by Bill Packee of the Fairbanks chapter of the National Federation for the Blind who will be talking to us about assistive technology for the visually impaired. She will email to Kat. Kat will print same at the Railbelt office and give to Miles and Irene to post around town. Tim has also completed a PSA; she faxed one to KIAM; Kat will fax to KUAC. Nita Marks will present November 3rd on ICWA and child protection issues. Due to her sudden trip to Nevada, Kat was unable to present on the Medicine Wheel and Wellness in September; she has been re-scheduled for December 1st.

Community Dinners at NSLC: John Grimes opened his remarks by explaining that the purpose for having community dinners at NSLC had initially been to connect students there with elders in our community. He said that homesickness is the primary reason for student attrition for NSLC. He is open to suggestions for strategies to engage interaction between students and community members. It was suggested that students be assigned to specific tables so that community members would have a better opportunity to get to know them. Name tags might help. Kat suggested community members stand and introduce themselves during dinner, telling a little bit about who they are, what they do, what their interests are, etc. Rebecca suggested creating some manner of family adoption program; she noted that when she and Bill have their young children with them, the NSLC students flock to meet them—perhaps because they are missing younger siblings left back home. “It is up to us to help them interact with us,” she said. Mary noted how NSLC students who came to do some volunteer work in the kitchen at Meda Lord Housing stayed afterwards to play some pool in the day room. Virginia suggested community members might stay after dinner, bring board games or other entertainment to interact with the students. Miles mentioned he brought a moose by one time which the students readily assisted in butchering; other times he has brought materials and tools to do scrimshaw which seemed well received by the kids. John indicated the community has a standing open invitation to come for dinner or to spend time with the students. He also mentioned that many of the students cannot afford to fly to their home villages for the short Thanksgiving and Spring Break school holidays. It would be good if they could spend time with families locally during those times.

John noted that there are 84 students currently enrolled at the living center; by October 23rd they will have 88 residents there. “They are a good group of kids,” he said, “But they are teenagers. They come with a certain amount of issues: alcohol and tobacco use, academic deficiencies, etc.” He said NSLC currently has five couples working as dorm parents, which provides a good ratio of adults to students, as originally intended. He praised the staff. He predicted their good effort would be reflected in increased retention rates. He said, “Nenana is becoming a better place as a whole for these students.” He said that they turned down 30 to 35 applications this year; their application numbers are up which allows them to be more selective regarding who they bring into the program.

The next community dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13th, 5 P.M. John invites all interested community members to attend. Briar Blair said that they could make announcements to the community concurrent to Mukluk Messages at 10:10 A.M., and 2:10 and 9:10 P.M. ( ). Tim suggested the use of flyers at the P.O., Coghill’s, A-frame, etc.

Lastly, John said that the NSLC students are currently involved in a project with Kathy Bertram, Education Director, University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. to do research and collect data on climate change. She will be taking NSLC students to met Bernie Karl and tour the facility at Chena Hot Springs October 17th. WELLNESS THOUGHT:”A habit cannot be tossed out the window;
it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.” Mark Twain


Merrilee: the Nenana Community Calendar is up and running. It can be found at:

Andrea: She and Walter would like NSLC students to come for a camp-out at their place at 4-Mile. John prompted her to contact Mike Anderson or Tom Gephardt who is activities director.

John: NSLC dance troupe will be performing at International Friendship Day at Pioneer Park, 1 P.M., October 17th.

Kat: Railbelt finished their quarterly reports yesterday, hurray! Preparations have begun for Operation Ho Ho Ho. Laura will be taking names/ages for families that would appreciate food and gift boxes for Christmas. Deadline for submitting names will be November 27th. Volunteers are always welcome.

David: The heifer, Mara, is due to birth February 8th. Clara is due in July. They’ve been cleaning up garden leavings which the cows enjoy munching.

Bonnie: Cosmetology students from UAF will be doing haircuts at the Senior Center Thursday, October 22. There is a charge for perms but other hair-care services are free.

Miles: Handed out flyers received from the Alaska Source Link.

The city council meeting will be Thursday, 10/08/09, 6;30 at the Senior Center.

Bill: Is sad to announce that his mother will not be able to come to visit but his father, John Troxel, will be visiting.

Tim: Today is Election Day. Parent/teacher conferences Tue/Wed/Thurs at NCPS. October 12-16 will be the Book Fair at the school. Basketball game in Minto this weekend for the Nenana Junior High team.

Open floor for comments/questions/discussion: