By Zak Mitchell, FNSB Library '19-20
Beginning in January 2020, two recipients will receive a Library Foundation scholarship that completely pays for GED education at the Literacy Council of Alaska. The award will be offered biannually.
If you or someone you know are interested, please contact Zakeya Mitchell at email@example.com.
By Zak Mitchell, FNSB Library '19-20
I am currently an AmeriCorps VISTA serving in the Interior here in Fairbanks, Alaska. Myself and the other 5 VISTAs were invited to Los Angeles, California for an all-expenses paid In-Service Training for 3 ½ days, food included.
Wahoo! I’ll admit that invitation didn’t catch my attention until they mentioned food. Now I’m dedicated to the cause because they have showed me they are dedicated to my appetite.
Day 1 : Salutations
I arrived at LAX around 4ish, I don’t believe in checking luggage for trips that last less than 2 weeks so I carried all of my belongings. I got to the hotel roughly 15 minutes away from the airport and checked in. I went to my room with the intention to relax, but was startled by my roommate taking a shower so I just put my things down and went wandering about looking for my cohort friends. I couldn’t find them, so I sat at a table full of strangers. All of us were from someplace different but found much common ground when we gathered the courage to talk to one another.
Day 2: Making the Most of Your VISTA Service
Training began promptly at 8:30 am, the only bummer was, we weren’t allowed to take breakfast out of the dining hall. My newly acquainted roommate and I obviously overslept and rushed downstairs to munch on a warm meal as quickly as possible.
They separated us into groups based on colors predesignated on our name tags; I was in the red group. Of course I was: I’m bold, daring, radiant, primary - pun intended. [Insert laughter here.] Pardon me while I gas myself up.
Our first class of the day was ‘Making the Most of Your VISTA Service’.
Day 3 : Serve and Thrive: Resilience as a VISTA
We were asked to write three words to describe ourselves on the first day. My first word was sensitive. When people meet me, they develop a synopsis based on the way I dress, my nonverbal communication and word choice in conversation, if they can catch me speaking. These things help them postulate who they think I am. It is rare that someone is 100% accurate, and most people never gather how empathetic I am until a koala is burned in an Austrailian forest fire and they see me crying at my desk. Nevertheless, as an empath I’ve had to learn the hard lesson of exercising emotional boundaries.
This class, lead by a wonderful woman named Shoshanna, taught us techniques to prevent what many experience at the DMV called compassion fatigue. It’s when someone is in a position to assist another, but does not appear to have any empathy in an environment where empathy should be abundant. I am certain we have all experienced a person who has been anything but compassionate about a situation we thought was dire. It doesn’t feel good, and without properly separating yourself from your clients or your taxing daily tasks, anyone can be lead down a road of being unapologetically indifferent.
So, how is that prevented? Take a walk, practice deep breathing exercises, punch a gnome, anything positive that relieves the stress.
Day 4 : Last Day of Training
I am always sad when something is over. Each moment feels like water rising until I’m completely engulfed and there is no more air to gasp. I guess I’m a little anxious when change is lurking. And our last day was everything I expected, sappy, in a good way. Acknowledgements and final remarks about the days prior, moments where we shared our thoughts in conjunction with our expectations on the first day. Goodbyes.
My philosophy is when good people with common denominators get together, it somehow feels familiar and that should be embraced. I embraced it; and I have yet to regret that choice.
By Kelsey Snyder, Thrivalaska VISTA '19-20
Serving as the Development Coordinator at Thrivalaska involves a lot of outreach to the community including creating relationships with donors and companies. I recently submitted a grant to Wells Fargo to help my host site complete a re-flooring project at our thread Resource and Referral building. One of the main goals for my year of service is to help my site see visible growth in their ability to reach out to companies and individuals in the community for project and program support.
While the flooring project may not be seen as a dire need project, many families come to our organization looking for resources and we want to ensure they feel welcomed and comfortable while getting the help they need. We have used grants as an opportunity to gain funds for projects in the past such as new internet servers or other building updates in the classrooms. If approved for grant funds, you must use the funds given specifically for the project you had listed in your application.
My time writing the grant involved a lot of collaboration with my administration offices. I had to learn about the demographics our non-profit serves, and generate specific numbers to show the application board why our target population was in need. Writing this grant was a very useful way for me to practice painting a full picture of what my site does and the true difference it makes in our community.
The process began with creating an organization profile, simple information based on location and contact addresses. The large portion of the grant itself is the project proposal. You begin with funding purpose and describe what project you need funding provided. Many grant applications ask if there is a benefit to the company such as mention in a newsletter, daily paper, or on your website. This specific grant asked for information on how many low to moderate income group individuals you serve throughout the organization. Finally, you talk specifically about your organizations goals and accomplishments. This is where you get the opportunity to show the company why your program matters in your community!
After collaborating with my Executive Director and get approval to submit my proposal, we were told to expect our application to be reviewed within 45 days. Around a month and half after submitting our initial proposal to Wells Fargo, we were fortunate to receive an email letting us know that our grant has been approved! The email explained how we could expect a check in the mail within the next 8 weeks. As a non-profit, these application approvals are big victories!
By Ashton Varner
At this point in my life, I am not often able to give back with money. Instead, I dedicate time and effort to the causes I support. However, several companies have programs that let me give back with the purchases I already have to make for myself. I am able to choose from large-scale charities as well as local non-profits.
This how-to guide is written for people like me who find it difficult to donate monetarily as well as people who want the dollars they were spending anyway to go even farther.
Registration for both of these programs is easy and 100% free.
First, Fred Meyer Community Rewards
Let’s start with Fred Meyer Community Rewards which donates “over $2 million each year - up to $550,000 each quarter - to the local schools, community organizations and nonprofits of your choice.”
Here’s how to do it:
1. Get a Card
To sign up for Community Rewards, you’ll need a Fred Meyer Rewards Card, which is totally free. These cards can be given at the register or at the customer service desk.
2. Register Your Card
Once you have a rewards card, register it online here. You’ll be able to connect your card to your personal information. Address and phone number are very important in making your life easier.
When you attach an accurate mailing address, Fred Meyer will send you monthly coupons that are specifically targeted to you based on the purchases you’ve made in the past. For some, that might sound a bit Big Brother but I’d prefer to receive coupons I’d actually like to use (for instance, produce & dental floss) than a random new product companies are trying to incentivize. Quarterly, you’ll receive a rebate voucher if you’ve earned 500 or more rewards points in that quarter.
When you register your phone number to your card, make your wallet lighter by leaving the physical card at home. Your phone number becomes your “Alternate ID” which you can type into the card processor at the register in the grocery store to be sure you are receiving your points and even at the gas pump to redeem your fuel points. You’ll also be able to add digital coupons to your account and have them melt away from your total at the register.
Further questions? Read the FAQ here.
3. Enrolling in Community Rewards
Once you’ve registered, follow this link or
1. Click on the logo below, then select “My Account” from the drop-down menu.
2. Find “Community Rewards” on the left side of the screen.
3. Click “Enroll”.
4. Choose a Non-Profit
Fred Meyers has 1730 pages of non-profits to choose from! These organizations span from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Your choice doesn’t have to be in the town you are currently in as long as it’s on the list.
Search in the “Find an Organization” box or “View By Type” to see genres of non-profits.
Tip: Search by agency name, zip code, city or state.
Once you’ve found the agency you’d like to support, click “Enroll”.
That’s all - you are set! As long as you swipe your card or enter your alternate ID at the register, your agency of choice will start earning from your purchases.
You can keep up with your previous quarter’s earnings on the same Community Rewards page.
5. Changing Non-Profit Selection
You can change your agency selection at any time. Simply click “Change Organization” and select a new agency.
Or click “Cancel Enrollment” to stop earning altogether.
Further questions? Read the FAQ here.
Next, Amazon Smile
The only difference between AmazonSmile and the original Amazon is the web address, smile.amazon.com. The shopping and checkout interface all stay the same. The only change that you as a consumer have to make is to shop and checkout through smile.amazon.com rather than amazon.com. You’ll be using the same Amazon account you always have!
In their own words, “When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization.”
AmazonSmile has over one million organizations to choose from. These include local agencies as well as those with worldwide reach. Eligible products are marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation”. Of those products, AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price, which is the amount paid for the item minus rebates, shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes or service charges.
Here’s how to sign up:
1. Sign in at smile.amazon.com
2. Choose a Charity
You’ll be prompted to select a non-profit, either a spotlight charity or use the search bar.
Tip: Search by agency name, zip code, city, state or cause.
Hover your mouse over “About” to read more about the organization and click “Select” to choose.
On your AmazonSmile impact page, you’ll be able to see what your purchases have contributed. You can also change your chosen charity.
To access this page another time, hover over your “Account & Lists” on the top right side of the webpage. Nearly halfway down the list, select “Your AmazonSmile”.
3. Bookmark the Website.
To make it even easier to shop through AmazonSmile and be sure your purchases are supporting non-profits, you can add a bookmark to your favorite browser or follow these steps found on “Your AmazonSmile” page.
For further questions, check out the FAQ.
Finally, Charity Lists
Another charitable option AmazonSmile provides are called “Charity Lists”. Think of it as a wedding registry for charities. They select items they need from Amazon products and supporters can purchase those items in various quantities which will then be delivered directly to the charities.
1. Find a Charity
Browse by “Cause” or use the search bar.
Tip: Search by agency name, zip code, city, state or cause.
2. Select a list.
3. Go Shopping Based on Their Needs
Be sure when you check out that the items meant for the charity are being shipped to the agency’s address.
5. Continue to Checkout as Usual
What it's like being on the other side?
By Vicki Slobodyanik, Love INC. VISTA '19-20
The Fairbanks Reentry Coalition held a Reentry Simulation that I was able to be a part of. It was a very good opportunity to experience the life of someone who was incarcerated and is reentering society.
Hydroponics in Anchorage and Racing to Build a Grow Tower
We headed out to Alaska Seeds of Change where we were met by Sara Renard, the AKSoC staff coordinator. We stopped to discuss the successes and challenges of both AKSoC and the project I am working on, the Fairbanks Urban Hydroponic Farm (FUHF), and offered each other advice on methods of best practice.
The next day started early as Mel and I headed over to the Z. J. Loussac Public Library to set up for the workshop. Our students for the day, all teachers by trade, arrived at nine and we got right into the hydroponics education. Mel took them through a PowerPoint to teach them all about gardening in the classroom, from soil fertilization to which types of seeds will grow best. Just before lunch we got up on our feet and explored different interactive stations, each with an easy classroom activity the teachers could do with their own students. Then after lunch, it was all hands on deck to build a seven foot tall hydroponic grow tower.
With power drills out and at the ready, instruction packets in hand, and disassembled buckets, pipes, and screws scattered around the floor we were given a challenge: build the tower in 1.5 hours, beat the previous workshop’s record and someone will get to take the grow tower home. With our deadline looming in the near future, we rushed into action, naturally splitting into groups to tackle different aspects of the tower. I got to work helping with the sump basin, which is the foundation of the tower and holds all the water.
Thank you to Love In the Name of Christ of the Tanana Valley for hosting our event, even though you had only recently moved into your location. Thank you to The Salvation Army - Fairbanks Corps for providing hot drinks, bottled water and snacks for our volunteers and donors.
Thank you to our 6 VISTAs who took ownership of this project, both pre-event and day-of. Thank you to our 3 volunteers from HOPE worldwide who came in and immediately started sorting before I could even host volunteer orientation.
Thank you to four personal friends who donated what time they had: Ellen Hughes for your encouragement, calming nature & my favorite coffee order, Sarah Seifert for bringing experience and setting an example for our new folks, Melissa Prince for tackling and wrapping up several smaller projects & Christine Charron for spur-of-the-moment deliveries.
95% of our requests were filled and some donations came all the way from Nenana!
Thank you to the 10 local non-profit agencies who participated and allowed us to serve them through this event. We appreciate the work you do in our community all year round.
Fairbanks Rescue Mission
The Rescue Mission requested clothing,
shoes & socks in all sizes
but were most excited about toiletries -
travel size toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners & lotions, deodorants, razors & toothbrushes.
We ended up making at least 4 separate runs
to FRM with donated goods.
When they reopen their clothing closet,
it will be stacked to the ceiling!
Interior Alaska Center
Fairbanks Reentry Coalition
The Reentry Coalition asked for
professional clothing as well as homegoods
for their clients reentering the community
We delivered at least four times to them as well! With all those clothes, it will be much easier for their employment specialists
to outfit their clients for job interviews.
Love INC of the Tanana Valley
Like last year, Love INC asked for furniture, in particular dressers & box springs. They also requested twin sheets, household cleaning supplies and reusable shopping bags.
We received a bit of furniture, sets of pots & pans & a bunch of reusable shopping bags, which Love INC families will use
when picking up their items.
See you next year!
AGENCY: ACCESS ALASKA
AGENCY: ALASKA COALITION ON HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
AGENCY: BOYS & GIRLS CLUB
AGENCY: BREAD LINE INC.
AGENCY: FAIRBANKS SENIOR CENTER
AGENCY: FBX CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
AGENCY: FBX HOUSING & HOMELESS COALITION
AGENCY: FBX NATIVE ASSOCIATION
AGENCY: FBX NORTH STAR LIBRARIES
AGENCY: FBX REENTRY COALITION
AGENCY: FBX RESCUE MISSION
AGENCY: FBX SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
AGENCY: FBX WELLNESS COALITION
AGENCY: FBX YOUTH ADVOCATES
AGENCY: FOUNDATION HEALTH PARTNERS
AGENCY: INTERIOR ALASKA CENTER FOR NON-VIOLENT LIVING
AGENCY: JP JONES CENTER
AGENCY: LION'S DEN
AGENCY: LOVE INC
AGENCY: MORRIS THOMPSON CENTER
AGENCY: NORTHERN HOPE CENTER
AGENCY: NORTH STAR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
AGENCY: RESTORE INC
AGENCY: SALVATION ARMY
AGENCY: TANANA CHIEFS CONFERENCE
AGENCY: THE DOOR
AGENCY: UNITED WAY
AUTHOR: AISHA PEREIRA
AUTHOR: ASHTON VARNER
AUTHOR: CAITLIN RAMPY
AUTHOR: HALLE GENSLER
AUTHOR: KELSEY SNYDER
AUTHOR: KENZLEY DEFLER
AUTHOR: LEAH SHAFFER
AUTHOR: MEAGAN SCHEER
AUTHOR: MIKAYLA RILEY
AUTHOR: MIKE REIDERER
AUTHOR: SHEA BRENNEMAN
AUTHOR: STEPHEN GREENLAW
AUTHOR: TARYN WILLIAMS
AUTHOR: TESSA HOLMES
AUTHOR: VICKI SLOBODYANIK
AUTHOR: ZAK MITCHELL
Child Tax Credit
EVENT: COMMUNITY NEEDS DRIVE
EVENT: IN-SERVICE TRAINING
EVENT: PROJECT HOMELESS CONNECT
FAIRBANKS DAILY NEWS MINER
FRED MEYER REWARDS
IN THE NEWS
OFFICIAL CNCS STATEMENT
RADIO 970 KFBX
SERVICE YEAR BEGINNINGS
TOPIC: GRANT WRITING
YEAR LONG VISTA