12 Months Of Giving: Step Aside AKRFW! There’s A New Race In Town!

Diana’s commitment to the AMR prompted her to submit this charity in Chugach’s 12 Months of Giving, and based on the passion of her submission, the AMR has been selected as the July winner for the 12 Months campaign.

“I’m so excited that the Alaska Men’s Run was selected!,” Diana expressed. “I’ve been organizing an AMR team for the past five years after a very close friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Our team name was originally Team Hal, and then it was Team Hal & Mike, and now it is Team Mike, Hal & Pals as, unfortunately, we have had to add more and more names as more men have been diagnosed with prostate or testicular cancer.”

The AMR is one of the oldest charitable activities within Alaska, raising funds and awareness by using the race entry fees to fund educational activities, health awareness, promote early detection of prostate and testicular cancer, and provide financial aid to men with these cancers. All proceeds stay in Alaska.

Thank you, Diana, for submitting AMR in the 12 Months of Giving campaign, and thank you to AMR for all that they do to help fight and create awareness about prostate and testicular cancer. AMR will receive July’s $1,000 donations from Chugach. To learn more about AMR and the great work they do, click here.


And The March Winner Of Chugach’s 12 Months Of Giving Is…

HOA’s mission is to help individuals and families prepare for and live well with serious, life-limiting illness, end of life and grief. Their Resource Center provides medical equipment, advanced directive documents, books and dementia-care items. In addition, their programs provide nursing, social work, volunteer support, and bereavement counselling to support those struggling with a death loss. All services are completely free of charge.

“I’m excited this awesome charity was chosen by Chugach for a donation in the 12 Months of Giving campaign,” Little said. “I became familiar with HOA after a friend’s relative began to show signs of rapid-onset dementia. HOA provided her much needed support and empowered her to navigate care for her relative during a stressful situation. What motivated me to nominate them was their Care for the Carer Campaign, and their dedication to provide education and resources to those experiencing difficult medical and family situations, and who may not otherwise know where to turn for help.”

Sunday Fawaz, HOA Social Work Clinician, expressed her gratitude for the donation. “HOA so appreciates being chosen as a recipient of Chugach’s 12 Months of Giving program. Your investment will cover a portion of the costs for this year’s Care for the Carer Campaign, which provides free caregiver boxes filled with support and resources for anyone who is a caregiver for someone with a life-limiting illness,” Fawaz said. “The goal is to bring support and resources into the homes of our fellow Alaskans who have taken on the tremendous task of being a caregiver. Many of the difficulties and stress of caregiving have been amplified during the pandemic and recognizing unpaid caregivers is essential.”

Thank you to Niki Little for submitting Hospice of Anchorage in the 12 Months of Giving campaign, and thank you to Fawaz and HOA for all that they do to ease the passing of loved ones in our community. Hospice will receive the third of 12 $1,000 donations from Chugach, and nine other organizations will also receive donations based on nominations made by Chugach employees in the months ahead.

To learn more about HOA and the great work they do, click here and individual donations to this charity can be made here. Chugach Employees can nominate an organization that is near and dear to their heart by simply going to 12months.chugach.com and taking a few minutes to describe how this organization is making a difference and building community.

Second Charity Selected In Chugach Giving Campaign

Pletnikoff went on the explain the difference this partnership makes in the lives of children who are battling severe health issues. “One child fighting cancer was given a weekend stay at Denali Lodge to watch the Northern Lights. Another child wanted to ride with a musher in the Iditarod, and donations allowed this child to ride in a sled during the traditional start of the race in downtown Anchorage. Donations have even allowed children and their families to go to Disney Land.”

Pletnikoff had one word to describe her motivation for submitting the CMN for consideration in the 12 Months of Giving. “Miracle says it all. The safe travel, housing, and doctor appointments they provide for children and parents is the true definition of a miracle.”

Learning about Dee’s submission during the corporation’s recent board meetings, Chugach Director David Totemoff was inspired to step forward and make a personal donation of $500. Totemoff’s generosity increased the February donations for the 12 Months of Giving campaign to $1,500.

Across North America, more than 10 million children annually receive support in hospitals in the CMN. Since 1983, more than $7 billion has been raised for CMN, most of it $1 at a time during fundraising campaigns or, thanks to Dee and Chugach’s 12 Months of Giving and David Totemoff, $1,000 and $500 at a time. To learn more about this nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of children and how to support this organization, click here.

As we enter March, we are calling on all of our employees, wherever you may work, to submit a charity in the 12 Months of Chugach Giving campaign and tell us how this organization is making a difference and building community. Making a submission only takes a few minutes, and your submission could secure a $1,000 donation for your favorite cause.

Ashley Christensen Takes On New Role At Chugach

“Ashley’s experience working for CGS in various progressive roles, including project management and internal customer service, over the past five years, combined with her earlier experience working for Chugach as an intern and marketing coordinator provides a great backdrop that has prepared her to take on this new role,” Hickel said. “She will be working collaboratively with the Chugach team and our regional partners to identify and implement socio-economic programs and initiatives for our communities and shareholders.”

The launch of this new mentorship role under Hickel is very timely. “With the recent passing of the Biden Infrastructure Law, now is a critical time to access resources to help improve infrastructure and bring benefits to our region, where much of the infrastructure is aging and in need of repair or replacement,” Hickel stated. “This will be one of the major areas that Ashley and I focus on.”

Christensen is excited for the opportunity to learn from Josie and the corporate team. “Chugach’s land and regional initiatives have always interested me,” Christensen said. “Whenever I’ve heard about these projects, I’ve felt this desire to be more directly engaged. Working in this new role now affords me that hands-on engagement, and I am eager to roll up my sleeves and support the team.”

“One of the great things about working for Chugach as a shareholder is, no matter what division you work with, there is personal satisfaction in making a difference for the generations to come,” Christensen continued. “Working for CGS has been personally fulfilling in a number of ways, but it also came down to being a part of our profit centers successes, so my nieces and nephews, the generations to come, are afforded the same support and opportunities I received. Being able to switch gears and support our Community Value Centers provides me with new opportunities to directly impact Chugach’s support to our region.”

Christensen reflects fondly back on her time with CGS. “My tenure with CGS has been one for the books, and I am blessed to have learned from the best government contracting team, so this transition is truly bittersweet. While I’m staying within the Chugach family, I will miss the day-to-day interactions with my CGS teammates, mentors, and friends. I am forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and look forward to what the future has in store. Adding Josie to my list of incredible mentors is the icing on the cake!”

Hickel was equally enthusiastic about working with the new Community Development Program Director. “I am excited to welcome Ashley into this new role, and am very much looking forward to working with her to maximize opportunities for the Chugach region and people,” Hickel said.

Chugach CARES Act Funding Improves Region’s Food Security

After a supreme court decision reaffirmed that Alaska Native Corporations are federally recognized tribal entities, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding was finally released and made available to the Alaska Native community in August 2021. Now, a mere six months later, the seeds of that funding are starting to bear fruit, or rather it’s starting to bear spinach and basil and the potential for other nutritious greens.​​​​​​​

“With the CARES Act funding that the CRRC received from Chugach, we focused heavily on food security in the Chugach region,” said Willow Hetrick, CRRC Executive Director. “One of our goals with the funds was to make each of the communities we support less reliant on outside support and turn instead to the store outside their door.”

In this case, ‘the store outside their door’ translates into hydroponics cabinets that can be shipped to villages and produce 20–30 pieces of fresh produce every week, all while operating with a minimal amount of labor. “With these cabinets, tribes will be able to grow anything they wish – lettuce, arugula, dill, peppers, green beans, kale, oregano, thyme and parsley to name a few – but it is best to start out with the easier produce like lettuce and arugula,” Hetrick said. “We’re growing spinach and basil in Anchorage to test the equipment and establish best practices.”

“In total, we purchased seven cabinets and growing equipment for each community. One of these units will reside at the Alutiiq Pride Marine Institute in Seward, so we can train our staff and maintenance contractors to install, operate and maintain the units on behalf of the communities that will call them home. The goal is to end the reliance on outside help.” Once in place, the cabinets will provide a means of circumventing supply chain disruptions and give each community a self-sustaining bounty of greens grown directly on site. In addition, a turnkey, 40-foot connex with six hydroponics systems inside was purchased for the Qutekcak Native Tribe to provide for elder food boxes while at the same time providing for potential economic opportunity for the Tribe or a Tribal member.

Eventually, cabinets will be positioned in Nanwalek, Port Graham, Chenega, Tatitlek, Valdez, Cordova and Seward. This project was made possible by a COVID-19 relief grant that Chugach made available to CRRC. “A team of Chugach employees worked tirelessly to allocate the funds to the regional non-profits and quickly mobilized a grant application portal to facilitate this process,” Hetrick said. “When applying for the funds, we consulted Chugach’s COVID-19 Community Needs Assessment Data Analysis conducted in the Chugach region.”

This analysis allowed for a comprehensive assessment of the major community services and programs that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Looking at the data, we were able to determine there were extensive interruptions in services; reductions in social gatherings and monthly potlucks which typically provided important sources of nutrition; cancellations of all community learning and cultural classes, luncheons, elder-ride sharing and shopping; access to community shower and laundry facilities; school closures; and a reduction of council services down to essential services.”

From this data, Hetrick and the team at CRRC identified one of the largest threats to the well-being and health of the isolated communities in the Chugach region, an issue that was already prevalent in the remote communities of the Chugach region before COVID-19 but that was only made worse by the pandemic. “Food shortage is always a concern in remote communities, because there are already limited food sourcing capabilities.”

Hetrick and the CRRC team were presented with a number of challenges in bringing their project together to address food shortage. Ultimately, it came down to willing suppliers who went above and beyond to make the purchase of the cabinets and connex and the growing equipment and supplies possible. “There were instances when I thought it wouldn’t happen given the incredibly difficult timeline imposed by Treasury to obligate the funds coupled with global supply chain issues and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays,” Hetrick said. “But our suppliers worked with us to make sure we could complete our mission to enable the tribes to be more food secure and have uninterrupted access to healthy foods even during the longest and darkest winter months.”

Hetrick and the entire CRRC team were thankful to Chugach for making the CARES Act funding available. “It’s not often that a non-profit like CRRC is given access to millions of dollars to spend in a matter of weeks,” Hetrick remarked. “In a normal setting, we are competing for years for grant money. With the support from Chugach, we were able to get more than five years of work completed in six months. With Chugach’s support, we have grown as an organization, and most importantly, the tribes are going to benefit immensely when the hydroponics systems arrive in their communities.”

Josie Hickel, Chugach’s Executive Vice President of ANCSA and Community Affairs, was excited to see the CARES Act funding start to make a positive difference in the Chugach region. “When you live in an urban area, fruits and vegetables can be purchased right down the street at your local grocery store. But a lot of our communities don’t have this luxury, so it is incredibility rewarding to see the CARES Act funding that Chugach made available to CRRC spent in such an innovative manner and in a way that has the potential to provide permanent and steady access to healthy food for our shareholders in our remote villages and communities.”

The Chugach Regional Resource Commission (CRRC) is an inter-tribal fish and wildlife commission certified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. Member Tribes of the Chugach Region include the Tatitlek Village IRA Council, Native Village of Eyak (Cordova), Port Graham Village Council, Nanwalek IRA Council, Chenega Bay IRA Council, Qutekcak Native Tribe (Seward), and the Valdez Native Tribe. There are approximately 1,000 tribal members living in these communities. These people, known as Alutiiq, Sugpiaq, and Eyak, are southcentral coastal people of Alaska. The seven Tribes of CRRC are located in Prince William Sound and Lower Cook Inlet, a remote region limited in travel to small aircraft, charter aircraft and boat travel, with seasonal Alaska marine highway service.

CRRC sees itself as a leader in Tribal Natural Resource issues in Alaska and especially in Southcentral Alaska. Our organization was integrally involved in the research, monitoring, and restoration projects resulting from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, working with all Tribes in the oil spilled area. We have since expanded our programs to include playing a leading role in the management of the subsistence harvest of migratory birds, shellfish aquaculture and ocean acidification research, tribal natural resource education, climate change, and food sovereignty.

Chugach Challenge Raises $10,000 For Food Bank

Every year, nearly 100,000 of our fellow Alaskans – including children, seniors, veterans and the working poor – can’t always be sure of their next meal. Whether it’s an unexpected loss of a job, unexpected medical bills or other unforeseen setbacks, many of our neighbors find they don’t have enough for groceries and other basic necessities.

This winter, thanks to your generosity, the Food Bank of Alaska will have a greater impact and be able to lower the number of people who have to contend with food insecurity. The Food Bank of Alaska accepts food donations year round in Anchorage at 2192 Viking Drive, and monetary donation can always be made at: https://foodbankofalaska.org/donate-2/.

Thanks again for your contributions and for helping to make a difference in the lives of the people who go the Food Bank for assistance.

Chugach Champion Raises Nearly $25,000 For Covenant House

“November 18th was a moving night at Covenant House’s Great Alaska Sleep Out, and I spent the next day full of emotions after the long night in the cold,” Osborne recalled. “I’m appreciative of the Covenant House staff for all they do to protect our youth, and to support the sleepers on the -16 degree night. I was honored to help support their efforts, and I was even more humbled to speak with the brave Covenant House youth about their journeys.”

Osborne went on to touch on the important aspect of awareness that Sleep Out champions. “I’m concerned to hear about the human trafficking of Alaska’s youth and, that of 10 cities studied across the country, Anchorage ranked among the worst. I’m saddened that this is a hidden part of our city and that our young people are preyed upon, but I’m hopeful that, with the support of so many in our community, we can shine a light on this dark part of our community and in doing so provide more opportunities to the youth who seek shelter at Covenant House.”

Osborne set her Sleep Out fundraising goal at $10,000. Through her family and friends and through her co-worker’s contributions, Osborne blew past her goal and raised nearly $25,000 for Covenant House Alaska. “I’m very grateful to all of you and to Chugach Alaska Corporation for supporting my night out in the cold and for the contributions you made that will make it easier for Covenant House to provide a safe place and essential services to youth in our community.”

The mission of Covenant House Alaska is to protect and safeguard all children with absolute respect and unconditional love. Since 1988, Covenant House Alaska has met this mission and served more than 30,000 at-risk youth experiencing homelessness. Melanie Osborne’s Sleep Out donation page remains active and can be viewed by clicking here.

Chugach Shareholder Vaccination Incentive

Entries are open until December 1, 2021. Scan the QR code provided below to enter or click here to go to entry form. You do not need to submit proof of vaccination to enter, but please note that verifying proof of vaccination will be required for the prize to be claimed. The drawing will take place the month of December 2021. To find a COVID-19 vaccine distribution location near you, text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233.

Barney Uhart Scholars Join Corporate Team For The Summer

As Young spoke, he touched on Uhart’s accomplishments, and how, during his career with Chugach, the corporation’s annual review rose from $19 million to more than $1 billion. Young also touched on what this rise meant for the corporation and its shareholders. “Chugach has become a shining example of an Alaskan Native Corporation that has succeeded and thrived, and one that has provided tremendous benefits to its Native Shareholders and employees. Barney deserves his full share of credit for this success.”

Young concluded his tribute with Barney’s own words: “How has Chugach gotten to where it is today? The reason is simple—the people. All the people associated with Chugach are responsible for its success.” Barney’s words and how he believed everyone contributed to Chugach’s success, especially its shareholders, are at the heart of why the Barney Uhart Memorial Scholarship was established – to better position Chugach shareholders and descendants on career paths.

This competitive scholarship is available to Chugach shareholders and descendants who are a college senior at the undergraduate level or enrolled in a graduate program. Students who are approved for this award participate in a paid summer internship and receive $10,000 in scholarship funding. The scholarship supports one individual per year, but due to COVID-19 concerns, a scholarship recipient was unable to be selected in 2020. To make up for that shortfall, two members of Chugach’s shareholder community were recipients of this prestigious opportunity in 2021.

Barney Uhart Scholarship Recipient and Chugach Descendant Randy White is studying toward an MBA at College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and his summer internship will be spent in Anchorage. “I have the distinct honor of working with Melanie Osborne and her fantastic team on a couple of different projects,” Randy says. “We are looking at revamping the onboarding process. More specifically, we’ll be analyzing the process from recruitment to onboarding and the retention process in the post-COVID world. Additionally, we are working on a project that will compile data to ensure that Chugach has the best privacy practices in place.”

Melanie Osborne serves as Chugach’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, and she oversees Chugach’s Legal, Risk Management, Human Resources and Facilities departments, with Randy’s summer work specially supporting Chugach’s Human Resources.

“I am thrilled to be working with Randy this summer to enhance some of Chugach’s policies and procedures,” Osborne says. “He’s gotten to know about Chugach and his heritage, and I’m honored to be part of it.”

Randy is thrilled to hit the ground running with some meaningful work, and he’s very grateful to have the opportunity that Barney Uhart Scholarship affords. “Receiving the scholarship has been a tremendous honor,” Randy says. “I still can’t believe that I am a recipient. Having talked with Sheri Buretta and Dan Fenza about the kind of guy that Barney was truly brought a new perspective and appreciation of receiving this award.”

For Randy, the honor of receiving the scholarship is just one side of being a Uhart scholarship recipient. “It has also provided a huge sense of relief with the financial burden lifted, allowing me to focus on my studies,” Randy says. “I could not be more grateful both personally and professionally.”

Randy wants to make sure that all those who are eligible within the Chugach community take advantage of the opportunities that the corporation provides. “I strongly encourage all shareholder and descendant students to take a moment and apply for Chugach’s apprenticeships, scholarships, and internships. At first, I hesitated, but I am so glad that I applied. You never know what can happen until you try. It can literally change your life, as it has mine.”

Chugach Descendant Jordan Betschart was also selected as a 2021 Barney Uhart Scholarship recipient. Like Randy White, Jordan is hitting the ground running and lending support to some major projects for Chugach. “I am a Project Analyst for Angie Astle’s team,” Jordan says. Angie Astle serves as one of Chugach’s Executive Vice Presidents and as Chief Financial Officer. “I will be analyzing multiple aspects of different projects in this role. Currently we are updating the Summary Investment Analysis for the Prince William Sound Granite Quarry project.”

Jordan went on to describe the other projects he will support during his internship. “We will be looking at the economies of where Chugach does business like Chicago and Hawaii to track trends on what is occurring in those regions. In addition, we will be reviewing forward-looking indications of what is happening in those markets which will be provided to the business leaders as Chugach plans for 2022 and beyond. I am also exploring other avenues with Chris Hamilton regarding the back-end of databases using SQL and eventually coding with Python.” Chris Hamilton serves as Chugach’s Digital Strategies Executive.

Working with Chugach’s finance and I.T. teams align perfectly with Jordan’s academic pursues as his two fields of study are Economics and Computer Information Technology, and being able to apply his college studies in a real world environment has surpassed his expectations for his internship. “My Uhart Scholarship experience so far has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’ve gotten exposure to board meetings, to databases and coding, and to how Chugach’s executives and professionals interact.”

While a large portion of Jordan’s summer will be spent in the Anchorage headquarters, he will be paying visits throughout the Chugach region. “Eventually I will be traveling to Palmer, Valdez and Seward to get more experience and exposure to how Alaska Native Corporations conduct themselves and what they are involved in.”

Along with Randy White, Jordan would encourage other eligible shareholders and descendants to apply for the Uhart Scholarship. “I would say that this scholarship is a magnificent opportunity to gain experience in how a business operates,” Jordan says. “It exposes you to so many different aspects of the business world. It has been refreshing to see people working as a team and meeting deadlines regarding their respective projects. I would encourage any shareholder or descendant who has the opportunity to apply for this scholarship as it will give you loads of experience for your future career endeavors.”

Jordan concluded his comments on the most satisfying aspect of his internship. “The Uhart scholarship has helped me gain direction in what I want to do career-wise, boosted my growth as a person inside and outside the workplace, and has allowed me to achieve worthwhile involvement in Chugach and how they strategically increase shareholder value.”

Angie Astle shared her excitement at having a Uhart recipient support her team. “It is a real honor to work with Jordan and to be part of his experience at Chugach. He is eager, intelligent, engaged and his project this summer will provide him the opportunity to learn more about Chugach’s business while providing valuable information during his research.”

“I want thank the finance team, and all of our corporate staff, for taking the time to share their knowledge with Jordan to make him feel welcome,” Angie says. “Each minute spent with our Uhart recipients is connecting Chugach’s next generation of shareholders and descendants with their company and culture and helping to shape the future leaders of the Chugach community.”

To learn more about the Barney Uhart Memorial Scholarship and all of the educational funding available to Chugach shareholders and descendants, go to www.chugachheritagefoundation.org.

Heide & Cook Recognized for Excellence in Safety

Heide & Cook (H&C) is proud to be a recipient of the highest honor, “Best in Category” in their category Associates/Specialty 70,000-324,999 as well as recognition for a zero-incident rate for the 2020 year.

Todd Williams, H&C President, remarked, “We are honored and humbled to receive this award. It serves as a reflection of the culture we have developed at H&C where every employee is engaged and takes individual responsibility not only for their own safety but also for the safety of their fellow team members. Moreover, our culture and commitment to safety extends beyond the fine work our employees do every day and they share it in our community, with our customers, vendors and with friends and families”.

Williams continued, “H&C is a unique company in that it has multiple divisions serving a variety of disciplines in multiple Island locations. Each of our divisions, HVAC, refrigeration, plumbing, elevator, sheet metal, construction and portable air conditioning rentals are presented a unique set of challenges when it comes to ensuring safe work is performed. Adding to this complexity is the variety of customers that we serve- government, educational, retail, hospitality, healthcare with each having unique and distinct demands and safety requirements. Because of our culture, we have been successful in addressing these ever- changing challenges.”

To learn more about H&C, go to www.heidecook.com.