February 2021 Newsletter
AmeriCorps Members at Your Service & Play!

For the required MLK National Day of Service on January 18, the 13 United Way AmeriCorps members spent the day volunteering at one of Juneau’s new housing project sites. In the last few months, the Tlingit & Haida Reentry and Recovery Department has been working on several transitional housing projects around the Juneau community to provide spaces for those moving from incarceration. Members were excited to have joined the Alaway Avenue project that is nearing completion and contributed to the final steps by building furniture for each personal room in the house. 
"I really believe in the mission of giving people recently out of prison a chance to reintegrate," says Jeffrey Franklin, an AmeriCorps Member serving at Sayéik Gastineau Community School. “It’s super important and a cause worth spending a day devoting to.”

Our members enjoy learning more about Tlingit and Haida and recognize the long-lasting impact of dedicating time to projects that they are spearheading throughout the communities in Southeast Alaska. Beyond MLK National Service Day, AmeriCorps members intend to continue serving in initiatives that strengthen the beneficial partnership with Juneau community members.
Towards the end of January and into February our members finally received almost one month of sun and took advantage of these blue skies to explore Juneau.

If you would like to learn more about our program or provide a Juneau experience for our members, please contact Shari Paul at AmeriCorps@unitedwayseak.org
This year donating has been made easy. Just click the link below.
Help Your Community Come Together in a UNITED WAY!
Juneau C.A.R.E.S. Meal Program Update
Five months into the program and with the start of a new year, we saw a reduction in meals due to reduced finances, from 445 to 235 meals a day. The extension of the Original Cares Grant allowed us to continue and with an additional $50,000 grant from the Juneau Community Foundation, which we are grateful for, has allowed us to continue to serve our community members in need into 2021. We are also hoping for additional funds from The Glory Hall. These much-appreciated funds will allow us to continue on past the end of the original grant amount and to hopefully continue on until the end of March.

  1. To date, 43 restaurants have been contacted with 18 participating at this time. We have several that are no longer participating in the program for various reasons but have 2 new ones that have started this year. 
  2. 62,937 meals have been served by end of January 2021 with coordination from The United Way and delivered by The Glory Hall.
  3. 7,540 meals are currently scheduled for February 2021, which is an increase of 35 meals a day over the end of January due to The Glory Hall running out of meals and providing additional funds for these meals. 
  4. A total of 63,000 total meals have been prepared by end of the original grant.
  5. Local businesses have now received roughly $775,000 for meal preparation, keeping doors open and employees working. 

With February going by quickly, we are hoping to confirm funds for March and possibly beyond as the need for meals is certainly not going down. We are working with local videographer Jordan Kendall to chronicle the grant; the people that made it happen, the ones that made it work, and those community members that we share Juneau with that needed a helping hand, as we all do from time to time. Restaurants are eager and willing to keep making meals, and meal quality is still high. Mike, who still delivers the meals, reports that recipients still are very grateful for the meals. As the forecast for our local economy still looks bleak, we as a community will persevere, as long as we can keep working together. This is a project of many moving parts coming together to do the right thing, and we are all better for it.
Juneau Community Foundation provides support for the Juneau C.A.R.E.S. Meal Program
L-R Jamie Waste, Program Director; Amy Skilbred, Executive Director; Jenna Rutecki, Executive Assistant
United Way of Southeast Alaska received a CARES Act grant from the Alaska Community Foundation to run the Juneau CARES Meal Program in August of 2020.

We have made considerable progress towards accomplishing the mission of the grant; feeding our underserved community members and improving our local economy by creating business and jobs. This is typically the slowest time of the year in the restaurant business here in Juneau and after the past summer, businesses are struggling.

As the funds have been spent down, the need has not reduced. In an effort to keep the program running into the spring, the Juneau Community Foundation announced the third round of grants for its Covid-19 response fund. Executive Director Amy Skilbred provided a check for $50,000 to continue the Juneau C.A.R.E.S. Meal Program operated by the United Way of Southeast Alaska. Ms. Skilbred noted the grants were made possible from over 250 donations from community members.

The extension of the Original Cares Grant allowed United Way of Southeast Alaska to continue providing meals well into March. We are grateful for this generous contribution to the program as it has allowed us to continue to serve our community members in need well into the first quarter of the year.
Introducing a New Early Learning Campaign
Rain or Shine Learning All the Time is a new campaign designed to support, engage, and connect families and caregivers of children ages 0-5 with early childhood best practices.

The amazing thing about the brains of young children is that they are wired to learn, no matter when, where or what the weather. Kids are making connections with every interaction and new environment they encounter.

Tips and inspirational images created by Southeast Alaskan artist Evon Zerbetz for the campaign are designed to remind families and caregivers that even simple interactions - talking with a baby, reading with a toddler, splashing with a pre-schooler - can help build the foundation for future learning and growth. 

The campaign was created by a coalition of partners including AEYC-Southeast Alaska, Tlingit & Haida Head Start, the Association of Alaska School Boards, Southeast school districts, and other partners working together as part of the STEPS grant. You can take part by sharing, reposting, and finding out more at Juneau Families or Sitka Kids.

With so much competing for our attention, it can help to remember that simply getting on the floor and playing with a young child can be the most important thing you do today. 
Save The Date!

The 2021 Annual Juneau Litter Free Community Cleanup is set for Saturday, May 1, 2021