By Stephanie Blake
The Eagle River Boys and Girls Club
The mission of our local Boys and Girls Club, and clubs nationwide is, “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” To care for our local youth in such a way that they have the opportunity to become that sort of citizen indeed requires a great deal of service and collaboration among the community. The dedicated staff at the Eagle River Boys and Girls Club, which much generous support, excellently engage and assist area kids and teens, providing a safe, welcoming and fun environment for their development.
Our local Club welcomes 80-90 kids daily, approximately half of which are from military families. These children come before school, after school, during breaks and holidays, and all summer long. During the summer months, the Club provides free lunches to every child. The staff and volunteers care about every unique child and teen they serve, and work to help each one stay on track at school, make good choices, and graduate. They offer an array of programs and activities, including art, photography, online safety training, an anti-bullying program, mentorship opportunities, and STEM classes. They engage kid and teens with fun activities and care for them individually. At little cost, and in some cases- at no cost at all, area youth have exceptional adults pouring into their lives in this home-away-from-home. These kids, and the area at large, reap enormous dividends now and for years to come, thanks to our local Boys and Girls Club.
The Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center
The Eagle River-Chugiak Senior Center is tucked closely next to the towering Chugach Mountain range and fits there nicely. The Center has its own beauty to lend to the scenery surrounding it. Beautifully kept and meticulously clean, it is a bright spot within the community both for its physical appeal and also for the stellar job it does in caring for local seniors.
The heart of the organization is to help give area seniors access to the quality of life that they desire. A large part of that is connection- connection to each other, to opportunity, and to the resources and assistance that are needed at the right time. The Center facilitates these connections in a multiplicity of ways. In addition to their assisted living program and on-site apartments, they run an adult day program for seniors who might be lonely at home while family members or caretakers are away at work. This includes transporting individuals to and from the Center for the day so that they can join the community, activities and share a meal. They also connect members and community seniors with their appointments and help them run errands through their growing transportation program. Their Personal Care Assistants come into community seniors’ homes and aid in daily living needs. The Center also partners with Meals on Wheels to provide nourishing food for those around us struggling to get by. There is even an on-site activity coordinator that takes seniors on excursions around Alaska to connect them with the wonders of this great state. And finally, the Center’s calendar is regularly peppered with wellness and exercise classes, events, and celebrations. All of these connections, and the caring staff that facilitate them, offer the opportunity to enrich the lives of our ever-growing, valuable community of seniors.
The Eagle River VFW Post No. 9785
With such a rich community of veterans in Eagle River and Chugiak, it is no surprise that our local VFW Post is the sixth largest in the nation. It boasts 1,739 members who are proud to be part of such a noble and generous club. The VFW at large is known and cherished for its unyielding support for American veterans. It is a place for members to gather, share a beverage and a steak dinner, fellowship with brothers and sisters in arms, and invest in the community of local veterans and other worthy projects around town.
The local VFW post is plugged in. They support the Wounded Warriors Project, engage in veteran outreach, participate in many ceremonies at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, contribute to the local Bear Paw Festival and Independence Day celebrations, adopt a stretch of local road for regular clean-up, and deliver baskets of food for those in need during the holidays. Their Relief Fund gave over $7,000 to bolster neighboring veterans just last year. Additionally, the VFW financially supports local youth activities- activities that often the schools, or individuals cannot afford to fund themselves. Over $40,000 were donated last year to sponsor band, soccer, basketball, football and other such activities for area students. Nationally, the organization promotes patriotism among middle school and high school students with annual writing competitions and generous scholarships. Our local VFW post is a far cry from past images of smoky bars where grandfathers hung out. They are a group of proud Americans who enjoy the camaraderie of prior service and are leaning forward in the saddle to strengthen each other and the community.