Tim & Angie Astle

Josie Hickel

Melanie Osborne

You can never truly know another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, and that’s the spirit behind Covenant House’s Great Alaska Sleepout. Instead of walking, though, participants are asked to sleep outside for a night to understand the hardships faced by the homeless youth of Alaska. Participants also challenge others to support the Sleepout and donate to Covenant House Alaska.

Covenant House Alaska is the largest provider of services to homeless and runaway youth in the state of Alaska. The goal of Covenant House is to move a youth from homelessness to stability. First and foremost, they work with youth on reconciliation with family whenever possible. If reconciliation is not possible, the Covenant House programs assist youth in making the choices and building the skills necessary for independent living.

Since 1988, Covenant House Alaska has served more than 30,000 at-risk youth experiencing homelessness. But they didn’t do it alone; they did it with the help of people like Josie Hickel, Angie Astle, Melanie Osborne and Sheri Buretta.

“As I laid outside on a cold winter night, wrapped in my warmest blankets, I thought about what it would be like to be homeless,” said Josie Hickel, Chugach’s Executive Vice President of ANCSA and Community Affairs. “To be young, alone and scared in the dark of night. Not knowing where to turn for a warm bed and a hot meal. Thanks to Covenant House, there is a place these kids can go for a bed and a meal, and a place where they can find help and hope for the future. This is why I joined the sleep out. I am so grateful for everyone who donated to help such an important cause.”

For Angie Astle, Chugach’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, it was the plight of homeless and their lack of options that motivated her to donate and sleep out. “More than the cold, it is the reality that people need a warm, safe place. I could go inside to warm up, and get a reprieve,” Angie said. “But trying to imagine that option did not exist for others that live everyday – vulnerable, cold and exposed – was overwhelming.”

For Melanie Osborne, Chugach’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, sleeping out is about awareness and every facet of the Covenant House mission. “I give up my bed for one night a year to raise awareness about the youth homelessness crisis and to raise funds that keep Covenant House open,” Melanie said. “I give up my bed for young people seeking safe shelter, warm meals, educational opportunities, job training, medical care, mental health and substance use counseling, and legal aid, so that these youth can dream big.”

At nearly $32,000, Angie, Josie, Melanie and Sheri and those they inspired to donate definitely made a huge contribution to the Covenant House dream. The Chugach Team donation page remains active, and every dollar makes a difference in the lives of Alaska’s at-risk and homeless youth.​​​​​​​

For Sheri Buretta, Chairman of the Chugach Board and Interim CEO, taking part in the Sleepout is about responsibility. “Corporate responsibility starts at a business level, but a large part of it starts at the individual level, with employees,” Sheri said. “I’m so proud that Chugach is always ready to help our community, and that our employees are always so willing to step forward to support organizations like the Covenant House Alaska.”

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Director Randi Jo Gause

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