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What an honor and a privilege to do the work we do. For 127 years, young people have come to this place of refuge and healing – this place that honors their whole being – this place that knows to whom we belong. For approximately 46,385 days now we have been caring for young people in need. It is an amazing team effort that takes each and every one of us. I am so very grateful for all the dedicated, hard-working and caring people who have been, are, and will be a part of this agency and mission – a part of the healing stories that happen here. For all of this, I give thanks.

Our agency theme for the month of October has been SANCTUARY. If you’re following us on social media or have been to our agency within the last 2 years, the word Sanctuary should ring a bell! AK Child & Family has been in the process of officially implementing what is known as The Sanctuary Model—an organizational model designed to “counteract the biological, emotional, cognitive, social, and moral wounds suffered by the victims of traumatic experience and extended exposure to adversity.” In a nutshell, it is an organizational intervention of sorts--a reformatting of our entire agency’s way of thinking & behaving, so that the WAY in which we operate is just as trauma-informed as our specific work with youth and families.

Earlier this year, Ak Child & Family staff and grantees had the opportunity to attend the 5th Annual Alaska Advanced Trauma Training institute, which was hosted by the Alaska Child Trauma Center at Anchorage Community Mental Health Services. A big thank you to these groups, and the Division of Behavioral Health for making this opportunity possible!!

I would like to emphasize how I was welcomed at our Oliver Cottage these past few months. There was a group that was held after what I heard was a pretty tense situation between peers. When staff called the group into session everyone grabbed a chair and circled around. I heard that we were going to process what happened the day before and what will come of it, so I prepared myself for a potentially tense conversation. As we all settled in to the circle and quieted down, we all had a moment to quietly acknowledge each other’s presence.

This year marked our 25th annual Alaska Flag Day Celebration -- 25 years of celebrating the birth of Alaska's State Flag!

We are pleased to welcome our former CEO, Jim Maley back to Alaska for our 25th annual Alaska Flag Day Celebration on Sunday, July 9th! Jim has been an integral part of the evolution of our agency and his dedication and care for children & families continues to be unwavering. Please enjoy the following interview with him, on his development of our first ever Alaska Flag Day Celebration, the agency & his passion for helping young people!

I find great privilege in being able to share my family’s story within the therapeutic foster care system, through AK Child & Family. It is never an easy decision once you realize that your child needs help you are unable to provide to them at home. When I made the decision to seek help with Alaska Child & Family, I never thought it would include therapeutic foster care.

During the month of January, our agency focused on the commitment of emotional intelligence, particularly self care. As an agency, we have discussed this quite a bit and encourage it regularly. The self care plan we adopted through sanctuary gives us a tool to explore what self care looks like for each of us, and to explore what works and what does not.

What follows is a picture of Unalaska that I took in about 1967-8 when we were beginning to look at the possibility of doing a sort of low-key community organizing job there...So I visited. The attached is a picture taken from the cemetery hill high above the town and looks back at the whole town of Unalaska. The original Jesse Lee Home is hidden just below the crest of the hill.

In Oliver cottage we play fantasy football and the people who play are the staff and the students. Everyone who plays in the fantasy football league gets to come up with an appropriate name for their team and mine team name is Speed because I like the Flash and I am a very fast runner when it comes to short distance.

In chapel yesterday, we used the Chinese New Year as a framework for our prayers. Celebrating inclusivity and diversity are an important part of our Spiritual Life program. Throughout the chapel liturgy 15 candles were lit.

18 years ago today marked my first day of employment with what was then Alaska Children Services. Having been hired as a Psychiatric Treatment Counselor in Gould Cottage I had an opportunity to work directly with youth and families in a very meaningful way. Over the ensuing years the opportunities for professional growth and development were plentiful; I remain exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to transition into a Treatment Program Supervisor role followed by Director of Human Resources and culminating in my current role as Chief Administrative Officer.

Each month, staff at AK Child & Family staff nominate a colleague they believe embodies true SPIRIT...