Since 1988, Covenant House Alaska has provided that place to sleep for the Last Frontier’s homeless youth. In the last 34 years, more than 30,000 youth have passed through the Covenant House doors under the organization’s guiding vision to end youth homelessness so that Alaska’s young people can grow into the best versions of themselves.
While Covenant House serves on the frontlines to end homelessness for Alaska’s youth, they don’t do it alone. Covenant House depends on individual and corporate donations to fulfill their mission. It truly takes a community, and that’s what Chugach is great at – building community. This year, Chugach built community for Covenant House and the youth they serve to the tune of more than $80,000.
What’s more, four members of Chugach’s executive team took part in the 2022 Great Alaska Sleep Out, Covenant House’s annual flagship fundraising event, including Chugach Government Solutions VP of Business Development Christopher Crosta, Deputy General Counsel Samantha Beehner, and Director of Marketing & Communications Randi Jo Gause. On the cold evening of November 17, Chugach’s Sleep Out participants donned winter gear and sleeping bags, and braved a night outside to raise awareness about Alaska’s homeless youth and, more importantly, to raise funds for the Covenant House and their ongoing pursuit to end homelessness.
Melanie Osborne, Chugach Executive Vice President and Chief Legal & Administrative Officer, has been a longtime participant in the Sleep Out, and she shared her motivation for her commitment to the Covenant House and its mission. “I’m always struck by meeting the youth and hearing their stores of courage,” Osborne said. “This year’s Sleep Out was particularly meaningful as we had three new Chugach sleepers brave the tents and sleeping bags. I’m grateful for all the work that Covenant House Alaska does for our community and honored to participate in the Sleep Out.”
Covenant House Alaska accepts donations year-round. This crucial support goes toward programs such as shelter services, educational assistance, employment placement and youth enrichment activities, all of which are a bridge to success for the youth who depend on Covenant House Alaska. To learn more about this incredible organization and to make a donation, click here.
Thanks to individual donations that came in over the last year and through funds raised by events like the Sleep Out, 799 youth were cared for in Covenant House’s residential and outreach programs; 100 youth graduated from their education programs with a diploma or GED; and 90 beds were kept open and available for youth in need, every single night.
AWAIC provides safe shelter and support services to women, men, and children affected by domestic violence. AWAIC strives to empower survivors with a full range of choices to make their own positive life decisions, providing support and encouragement along the way. AWAIC is committed not only to providing vital services to survivors of domestic violence, but also to preventing future violence through education and prevention.
When asked about what prompted her to submit AWAIC, Holly said, “Domestic violence is something we can strive to eliminate in our state with proper funding and education, and AWAIC helps support those in need and helps to prevent the cycle of domestic violence from recurring.”
While, today, Holly is a strong supporter of AWAIC and the role it serves to eliminate domestic violence, her support for AWAIC originated at an early age with the encouragement and example set by her grandmother. “As a child, my grandma always had us do a spring and fall clean up, and after these clean ups, we would donate clothing and other items to AWAIC to help those in need.”
This lifelong commitment to AWAIC has also been guided by the results this non-profit has consistently achieved. “They give women and children of abusive situations a fighting chance to live a life without that abuse,” Holly said. “I am over the moon happy that this incredible resource is getting some extra help!”
Chugach is proud to lend extra help to AWAIC through the 12 Months of Giving campaign, and those interested in providing additional help can do so by visiting the AWAIC donation page.
This year, on the dark and cold evening of November 17th, the following Chugach executives have agreed to take off their corporate hats and don warm, winter beanies:
- Sheri Buretta, Chugach Chairman
- Josie Hickel, President of Chugach
- Angie Astle, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
- Melanie Osborne, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal & Administrative Officer
- Sam Beehner, Deputy General Counsel
- Chris Crosta, Vice President of Chugach Government Solution’s Business Development
- Randi Jo Gause, Director of Marketing & Communications
Click here to join our Sleep-Out champions and join them in making a donation to the CHA. Since 1988, Covenant House Alaska served more than 30,000 at-risk youth experiencing homelessness. Chugach and our Sleep-Out participants are proud to support CHA and its mission to protect and safeguard all youth and place them on the path to a better life.
For Melanie Osborne, Chugach’s Sleep-Out Captain, this year will mark her seventh Sleep Out. Melanie’s dedication and enthusiasm for CHA’s annual fundraiser began on her first night out, and she’s never looked back. “My first Sleep Out changed my life. I thought the experience would be about raising funds for youth in need. That night we toured wooded areas of Anchorage and the city’s alleys and motels and other dismal structures that were identified as places where homeless youth congregate and where they were preyed upon. We ended at a cemetery, where one of our tour guides used to sleep, because a dark cemetery is scary to most people and that made it safer for her.”
This experience and others Melanie has had over the years reinforced her commitment to supporting CHA’s mission. “I sleep out to raise funds for the safe shelter and loving care that the Covenant House provides. More importantly, I sleep out to raise awareness about these hidden parts of the city and help make the dreams of young people to overcome homelessness a reality.”
The Great Alaska Sleep Out takes place on November 17th at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. To support CHA and the youth who depend on CHA’s service, join Chugach’s Sleep-Out champions and make a donation by going to Chugach’s Team page.
Since 2006, BBA has invested funds, resources, time, and energy in growing readers, building strong families and – like Chugach’s Building Community – has engaged community to the betterment of all those they serve. To this end, BBA has endeavored to ensure that all Alaskans know that early learning and literacy are important to society and that Alaskans understand that investments in early learning pay big dividends to the state as a whole. Moreover, BBA endeavors to ensure that sufficient funds are available – from public and private sources – for every Alaska child to have the opportunity to begin school ready to succeed.
One of BBA’s programs, in particular, has drawn Josie Hickel to support this non-profit’s mission: the Imagination Library. “Dolly Parton started Imagination Library in 1996, and this program mails books to children five and under each month at no cost. This is a truly amazing resource.” Hickel went on to encourage parents to take advantage of what this program has to offer. “Reading is so important for children and fostering a love of reading at an early age helps improve literacy. If you have young kids at home, go sign up for the Imagination Library!”
Hickel also noted one of the key challenges that many Alaskans face and how the BBA overcomes this obstacle. “Not all families have access to the same resources to help their children. That’s where the BBA steps in and provides important resources to kids, parents and educators to assure all children have access to reading resources.”
To learn more about the BBA and its early childhood investment, go to www.bestbeginningsalaska.org. Donations to BBA can be made here. Thank you to Josie Hickel for submitting this incredible non-profit for consideration in Chugach 12 Months of Giving Campaign, and thank you to all of our employees for participating in this yearlong Community Building effort.
The following is a transcript of the comments John shared in accepting AFN’s Citizen of the Year Award:
I am very honored to receive this award from the AFN board of Directors.
My father Fred Johnson was a commercial fisherman from Prince William Sound (PWS) and a World War II army combat veteran who left Cordova at the age of 18 to serve in the South Pacific. His two older brothers also wanted to join the army and see the world, but they were mad when they were sent to the nearby military base in Whittier.
My grandmother Mary Chimovitski was born in the Suqpiaq village of Nuchek on Hinchinbrook Island in PWS. This is the location of a Russian trading post called Fort Saint Constantine and Helen which was built in the late 1790s. We have also operated the Nuchek Spirit Camp for cultural and subsistence activities for the last 28 years. And NO, we are not giving Alaska back to Vladimir Putin!
My wife Elenore Carltikoff is from the Athabaskan village of Nondalton. Her father Nickoli told us when we got married to not worry about having hard times, because he raised 16 kids with a dog team of 20 dogs and a good rifle. My wife says she wants more than 20 dogs!
My wife’s parents did not know the meaning of the great depression, their subsistence lifestyle did not change much, money was always short. They predicted that someday there would be a great hardship for those living in the big cities who could not live off the land.
Success in what we do, does not happen by magic, but with the help of many others that share the same vision.
My wife’s five brothers also helped me by going on remote trips in the Chugach Region to locate and document our historic and prehistoric subsistence sites that were selected under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) some 50 years ago. They also helped in the numerous repatriation of our ancestors back to their place of origin from museums from around the world.
I am also happy that my good friend Gordon Pullar, who has passed away this year, is also being honored today for the Citizen of the year award. He was a great leader in repatriations prior to the passage of the Native American Graves Repatriation Act.
Gordon and I both strongly believed that all human remains needed to go back home and be treated with dignity, honor, and respect. Gordon was a humble and quiet man who saw the problems and found the solution to get the job done. We both saw the need to:
- Protect and build our culture with the great traditional knowledge and land that our ancestors have left us. Our history and subsistence of way of life is more important than any dollar in a bank.
- We also saw the need for Alaska Natives as a whole to come up with a unified regional plan to bring the rest of our ancestor’s home from museums that are labeled as “Cultural Unidentifiable from Alaska”. These ancient ancestors need our help to make it home. If we do nothing, then don’t expect others to do it for you.
- Not everyone gets the opportunity to make positive changes that have a lasting effect. If you see an opportunity, then you must grab that golden ring and build your foundation with truth and justice that no one can tear down. Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.
The preservation of our heritage with the ownership of historic lands are important to our growth and survival. These historic sites are not just something from the past but are the keys to our future. Most of the elders that help identify these heritage sites have passed on, but their efforts will have a lasting and significant impact on the generations to follow. It has been a long journey, but it is worth every step that we make.
Chugach shareholders, descendants and family members proudly joined John on stage for is acceptance speech and for a group photo.
Chugach Chairman Sheri Buretta submitted the following letter to the AFN award committee to ask that John be considered for this prestigious award:
I would like to nominate John F.C. Johnson, our Vice President of Cultural Resources, for the 2022 Citizen Award, recognizing his contributions, strong commitment, dedication and service to the Alaska Native Community and Rural Alaska. John’s work on behalf of the Chugach people for the last five decades, and the work he has done for Indigenous Peoples throughout Alaska, the United States, and Canada has undoubtedly improved the lives of our people for generations to come.
John Johnson is a Sugpiag Native who can trace his lineage back to the last chief of Nuchek. This village was once the cultural center of Prince William Sound (PWS) and the Chugach people, and thanks to John’s guiding hand, this site has once again risen to its former prominence with the establishment of Nuuciq Spirit Camp (NSC).
The camp took its first fledgling steps as a small gathering of Sugpiaq Natives, led by John, who initially slept in tents on the sacred ground that was once home to their ancestors. Now more than two-and-a-half decades later, the camp has grown to accommodate a large dining hall and more than 50 permanent living quarters, with John orchestrating the construction of nearly every dwelling and, more often than not, cutting the wood and swinging the hammer that made each structure possible.
Every summer, Chugach Natives and Eyak, Athabaskan and Tlingit Indians from all over our region come together for NSC to learn all aspects of the Native cultural that has been handed down to our people for more than 5,000 years. Attendees learn Sugt’stun, the language spoken by the Sugpiaq. Eyak language classes also take place. They take part in and learn subsistence hunting and gathering skills. Many are involved in the construction of traditional Native kayaks, an art that has been revived over the decades that NSC has been established. All take part in numerous craft projects and immerse themselves in the Chugach Indian culture that grows stronger and stronger with each camp gathering.
On June 23, 2022, Chugach will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Beyond NSC, John has worked for the corporation, in one capacity or another, or served on the Chugach Board of Directors for more than 47 of those 50 years. He began working for Chugach as a logger on projects that cleared the way for the Trans Alaska Pipeline. He then went on to work for many of our subsidiaries that laid the foundation for Chugach’s 50 years of success. During six years on the Chugach Board, he worked with others to build upon that success. As our Vice President of Cultural Resources, he has restored the cultural center of our people, and his continued efforts have secured culturally significant lands through federal conveyances that were selected during the passing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Throughout his storied career, John has been particularly adept at identifying and working through the process of having cultural 14(h)(1) sites conveyed to Chugach. In fact, he has earned the nickname “Indiana Johnson” as a result of his adventures around our region to identify and document cultural sites. To date, Chugach has had 92 14(h)(1) sites conveyed and twelve more sites are pending and will be conveyed very soon. John’s research and tireless efforts to locate and work with the federal agencies to have these sites conveyed is an example of his dedication to lands ownership and stewardship of these heritage sites to protect and preserve in perpetuity for generations to come.
John’s passion for protection and preservation of culture extends to the invaluable work to research and ensure artifacts are repatriated to their traditional homelands on behalf of tribes across Alaska and the nation. He served on the Smithsonian’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee in Washington, D.C. for six years where he assisted with the evaluation and implementation of NAGPRA between tribes nationwide and museums. As pursuant to NAGPRA, John traveled to museums in Russia, England, Germany, Denmark, and Spain to evaluate collections, and during these visits and after consultation with museum representatives, he secured the return of funerary objects and Native remains appropriated during the colonial era of our nation’s history.
Similar to his efforts to build and establish NSC, John served as one of the original founding Board of Directors for the Alaska Native Heritage Center and helped to create what has become the largest cultural gathering site in Alaska. He has served as a committee member for the Alaska Historical Records Commission. He served as the President of Keepers of the Treasure, which was a statewide organization that assists in repatriation efforts. He served as the Co-Chairman for Vitus Bering’s 250th anniversary discovery of Alaska, and was the first to raise the American flag in Kamchatka during the Russian ceremony of this historic occasion. He has also served on the board for the PWS Tourism Committee and the PWS Regional Citizen Advisory Committee which oversees and helps to ensure the safe transportation of oil through the Sugpiaq’s ancestral waters of PWS.
Closer to home, John has also served as the Chairman of the Chugach Heritage Foundation, which has made NSC and cultural events like our annual Russian New Year celebration possible, and has funded more than 1,200 scholarships for Chugach shareholders and descendants and allowed them to pursue their higher education and vocational goals.
It is not an exaggeration to say that without Mr. Johnson, Chugach would not be where we are today. The Chugach people and the entire Alaska Native community have benefitted, beyond measure, from his tireless efforts, his wisdom and knowledge, and his dedication. John has brought a wealth of experience, passion, and commitment to every role he has served in to preserve and advance the Indigenous cultures in Alaska and beyond.
It would be impossible to speak to a career that has spanned nearly five decades in a single letter, so I would welcome any opportunity to speak about John F.C. Johnson – beloved Elder, Native statesman and valued member of our Chugach family – and talk to his long list of qualifications and how his contributions have improved the lives of Alaska Native people.
Chairman of the Board
Congratulations to Julie Kitka and David Totemoff on being reelected to the board, and congratulations to newly elected Board of Director Anna Hoover.
The Chugach board, the executive management team and all of the Chugach shareholders thank Josh Nadell for his time on the board and for his contributions to Chugach’s success. The election results and annual meeting prize winners can be found on the Shareholder Portal.
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.
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.
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.