Nenana Wellness Coalition


December 29, 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 16 in attendance, including: Irene & Miles Martin, Virginia Young, Doreen Simmonds, Vicki Minor, Mary Alexander, Bonnie Reed, Terry & Art Thompson, Jeannie Bennett, Kat McElroy Tim Horn, Tom & Nycki Saxton, Merrily Verhagen and Beverly Joseph.

We had chicken mushroom soup, mixed greens salad, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese, pecans & raisins and coconut cookies for lunch.

WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT, by this week’s chairperson: Tim Horn

PRAYER: Was lead by Jeannie Bennett, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.

PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were two modifications to agenda as presented.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes were posted by Kat on the WIN link at and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Kat introduced her guests, Vicki Minor from Boise, Idaho, who has attended WIN previously a couple of years ago, and Doreen Simmonds who is visiting from Barrow, Alaska. Bonnie introduced her guests, Nycki and Tom Saxton, who are also from Barrow. Doreen knew the Saxton’s and so it was like old home week for the Barrow folk.


Health Fair-We have not yet obtained a volunteer for the site-coordinator position for our Health Fair tentatively scheduled for March 27th, 2010. The Fair this year be held at the Civic Center and would focus on adult health issues for the general public. Merrily affirmed she would contact Karen Harvey to ascertain if Karen would be available and willing to perform that function. Karen has been active in previous health fairs in Nenana. Tim said we might need to think about scaling the Health Fair back from previous efforts if we are unable to obtain a sit coordinator. Perhaps we should begin looking at what components to the Fair do we feel are the most important. Miles suggested we might want to have a back-up Plan B in case we are unable to obtain a site coordinator. The site coordinator position is vital if we are to utilize the Alaska Health Fair support; it is understood that the site coordinator would be a point person and that a Health Fair committee would take on the fundamental organizational tasks.

Envisioning Wellness – Merrily said that Paul Verhagen has volunteered to do an Envisioning Wellness presentation in February on communication. This was favorably received by WIN at large. Discussion ensued regarding our previous dialogue about facilitating a community-wide envisioning process around wellness utilizing the Medicine Wheel concepts, per Kat’s presentation earlier this month. We brainstormed strategies for doing what is felt to be needed front work towards that goal. The consensus opinion was to request the mayor, the school district superintendent and some key player from the tribe to do an Envisioning Wellness presentation over the course of the next three months regarding their plans for the future of Nenana from the perspective of the city, the school and the Nenana Native Council. This would result in two EW prese4ntations in February, which seemed agreeable. The thinking was to ask Eric Gephardt to present on the school district and NCPS’s strategic planning for January, someone from the tribe in February and the mayor in March. We talked about utilizing the YERC for the large envisioning process which would then be scheduled for sometime in April. The 13th of April was tentatively scheduled. It was suggested that Kat do a short training on how to conduct a focus group for four volunteer co-facilitators to assist the process. We also discussed verbiage for a flyer announcing the event and agreed that it ought to have a picture of the medicine wheel divided into the four quadrants, with a large type title stating: Envisioning Nenana’s Future with smaller type inviting the community at large to participate in this envisioning process using the medicine wheel model to explore the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our community and to formulate future plans. Problems with radio and TV reception due to technical issues with our local translator was used as a specific example of how our community might work together to help solve local issues.

Free Cycle – Irene and Miles posted flyers advertising the next Free Cycle which is scheduled to take place Saturday, January 9th, beginning about 4:30 P.M. It will feature a chili cook-off, a movie and the usual exchange of goods. Miles has suggested that we create clip-boards for people to list items they want to obtain or items they want to get rid of for things that are perhaps too cumbersome to haul to the Free Cycle. This would be a way for people to make needs or goods known to others.

Sober Housing – Kat gave a short report on the progress to date on the little sober house that Nenana/WIN has built for our visitors. There is still some work to be done; work has halted due to the holidays and cold weather. David is visiting his family in Idaho and will not be back till January 16th, so it is not anticipated that any further work will be done until after his return. All needed supplies are on hand and in fact a person could move in to the sober house at this point and complete construction while in residence, if desired. The gentleman who was residing in the travel trailer set up as temporary sober housing this summer has relocated to a small cabin on the other side of the river and is doing well.

WELLNESS THOUGHT: Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow. ~Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros


Mary announced “A party, a party!” This will be held to celebrate new year’s eve at the Meda Lord Senior housing complex, in the common room, December 31st, beginning about 3 P.M. It will be pot luck. Interior Regional Housing Authority provided funds for the main dish: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes. There will be a jam session, live music; everyone is enclouraged to bring his or her instruments and to join in the fun.

There seems to be some confusion regarding new year’s eve celebration at the tribal hall. Initially a pot luck was scheduled for 8 PM; then it was announced that this was cancelled. Later information indicated that the event is back on again, flyers have been posted at Coghill’s. Fireworks and good times!

Doreen: Eskimo dancing and Native games are scheduled from Xmas to New Year’s in Barrow, culminating in fireworks and a big dance on new year’s eve. She is really enjoying her visit to Nenana and is impressed with our wellness coalition.

Bonnie: There will be no meal at the Senior Center on Friday. Wednesday is their big birthday meal for the month of December. The Senior bus (old) is for sale for $10,000.00; interested parties should contact Vicki Moyle at 832-5818.

Tom: Thanks for the good meal. He is amazed at our wellness group. He has some experience with KUAC-FM and offered to help coordinate efforts to improve our local translator. Tim suggested we put this on the agenda as a regular item.

Nycki: Glad to be in this hot bed of community activism.

Virginia: It is slow at school due to the holiday break.

Merrily: Thanks everyone who attended and made the Nativity and recipe exchangte a success. It was great. Also she announced that the Verhagen’s are having a snow party at their place on Saturday from Noon on. Bring your sleds!

Tim: Caroling was also a great success. They had about 30 carolers; they broke into several small groups. They caroled at about 30 different houses. They caroled Bruce Boschert via the telephone and a half hour at Meda Lord Center. There have been favorable Facebook comments, she noted.

Beverly: Continues taking education for ministry classes.

Vicki: Amazed to see what you get accomplished in two hours weekly.

Kat: Is working with a consortium of people across Interior Alaska to get the Warrior Down training brought to the Fairbanks area towards their goal of creating Warrior Down community-based recovery support groups. This program has been successful in Idaho and Montana, working with newly released criminal offenders, to support them in their re-entry process. Anyone interested in assisting in or staying informed of these efforts should contact Kat at or call 378-6609.

Adjournment: 2:15 P.M.