Nenana Wellness Coalition


December 16, 2008

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 18 in attendance today including: Bill & Rebecca Troxel, Walter & Andréa Tommy, Bonnie Reed, Kris Capps, Tim Horn, Miles Martin, Kat McElroy, Maryellen Robinson, Diana Grum, Franceilia McDonald and the six McDonald children. We had beef stew, green salad, sliced apples and chocolate chip cookies for lunch.

WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Tim Horn.

PRAYER: Lad by Andrea Tommy, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.

PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: By chairperson, Tim Horn; no call for modifications.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes are posted at and were submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Tim introduced Kris Capps who was at a previous WIN meeting two years ago. She was welcomed back by the WIN group.


Community/Business Partnerships: The Secret To Making Things Happen: Kris explained that she works for the Denali school district. She said that she feels that teachers should be free to focus on teaching and so she sees her job as helping the teachers in Anderson, Healy and Cantwell by finding funding and doing the community organizing for school-based and community-based events. She is not primarily a grant-writer although finding and obtaining funding is a large part of what she does. She sees her role as helping teachers make things happen. She emphasized that you need teacher buy-in, student buy-in and parent buy-in. One of the things she talked about was getting the soda pop and power drinks out of the Tri-valley schools.

Kris explained a little about the Denali area and how the geographic setting of Healy makes it a very attractive place to visit. She has used that as a hook to get people to come to the area for her various arts and sports projects. “Connections are very important. Getting to know people and making sure they get to know you,” is the secret to her success, along with, “Being pleasantly persistent.” Another quote, “It is amazing what people will do for you, if you just ask.” She implied that she has to take “No,” for an answer frequently, but that she continues to ask. She showed us a hand-quilted banner made by the Denali Quilters Guild which was made for the Nenana River Wildwater Festival she organized. She has had the image made into greeting cards which she uses for a fund-raiser.

She mentioned that Wellness is “the hot thing right now.” She said that even Coca-Cola has a person in Fairbanks tasked with providing funds for wellness activities, perhaps because of negative PR regarding soda pop. She had great success getting water safety programs funded through a wide spectrum of funding sources. Coordinating with the office of boating safety, and utilizing the talents and energy of high school students, she is doing a series of public service ads about using life jackets. She described her process for getting various prominent people to agree to be part of the TV ad campaign. She has been able to get the Alaska state troopers to do snow-machine safety training for the youth in Healy.

Kris talked about how arts and music programs are always the first place that school districts look to when they have to make funding cuts. She described bringing in eight thousand dollars from community fund-raising when their school district was talking about cutting the music program. Her Kids In Motion dance program is 15 years old and has allowed many local youth to learn about dance as well as to participate in various stage productions, the most recent being A Very Sourdough Nutcracker Suite. She said one of the lead male dancers in that production, a Senior now at Tri-Valley, only began dancing four years ago; “He would never have known about that passion if it were not for our having Kids In Motion.

Kris mentioned they have done a strategic planning process for the Denali Borough. It was important that music, fine arts, drama, in-school and after-school programs and community workshops be valued and consequently funded. When she approaches Fairbanks area entities for donations or funding for Denali area activities, she is often told that they “have to take care of our people first.” To counter this argument, Kris has organized a high school government class to do a borough-wide economic survey to determine precisely how much money the people of Healy, Usibelli Mine, Clear Air Base, etc. actually do spend in Fairbanks so she will have good statistics to provide. The Tri-Valley Student Council have just begun a recycling program, partnering with Lausen’s who do waste disposal. Currently they are recycling glass and plastic. Kris cited this as an example of a successful community/business partnership.

WELLNESS THOUGHT: Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. Raymond Linquist (former pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, Hollywood, California)


(We actually did updates and announcements earlier, while we ate, before Kris gave her talk, to maximize time.)

Bill Troxel: Operation Ho Ho Ho, Thursday, 18th December, starting around Noon at the Tribal Hall. Railbelt will be providing pizza for volunteers.

The Verhegans are hosting a Nativity and Christmas recipe exchange, December 20th, 6-8 P.M. at Kristi’s Diner.

Caroling will begin at 6 P.M. on the 21st at Bonnie Reed’s House. They will be caroling around, ending at the Meda Lord Senior Housing.

Christmas Eve Open House at the Troxel’s starting at 4 P.M.

Rebecca Troxel: Pit Performance tonight, 6:30 P.M. This is the Christmas Concert for grades K-4.

Walter Tommy: Glad to be back. It was 60 above in South Carolina and gas was $1.30 a gallon but it is always good to be home.

Andrea Tommy: We are working with Wes and Mary Alexander to get internet connections wired into all the apartments at Senior Housing.

Bonnie Reed: The Senior’s Christmas lunch will be Noon on Monday, December 22. The Senior’s bus will be leaving for Fairbanks at 9 A.M. December 23.

Kris Capps: Tuesday, December 23, in Healy, they are having their annual Holiday On Ice, starting at 3 P.M. with a clown, followed by a sing-along, and caroling, and ending with a community skating. Come on down and see Santa Claus on a Zamboni.

Maryellen Robinson: The Adult Game Night in Anderson went well. She has a Senior Lunch scheduled for the 18th at Noon at the Anderson city building.

Tim Horn: Christmas Gift Exchange at the Tribal Hall on December 22 at 6:30. Everyone is welcome, even if you are not participating in the gift exchange.

Nenana community toy giveaway will be on the 23rd at 6:30 P.M. at the Civic Center. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there to give away the presents and for photo ops.

New Year’s Eve Pot luck will be at the Tribal Hall 8 P.M. with fireworks at midnight.

Kat: Holidays in Sobriety at the Alano Club in Fairbanks, four speakers from the AA fellowship, starting at 1:30 P.M. This is a non-smoking event and food will be provided. Contact Kat at 832-1078 for further details.

Open floor for comments/questions/discussion:


Adjournment: 2:15 P.M.