Join us in Celebrating the RESILIENCY of young Alaskans!

For National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month this September, we celebrated the strength and resiliency in all of Alaska’s youth.

VOA Alaska’s September 2021 Newsletter. To receive this newsletter and other updates directly to your inbox, sign up here.

Every young Alaskan that enters our care does so with the power to overcome, to heal, to recover, and to the thrive. Our role as direct-service providers and support staff is to create a safe space in which children and teens are empowered to find that strength.

To celebrate National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month this September, we celebrated the strength and resiliency in all of Alaska’s youth.

As Claire Sharpe, Lead Case Manager of Supportive Housing, describes, “the world that Alaskan youth grow up in is widely different than the world in the Lower 48. Alaska’s youth just roll with it and pull a bunch of power out of the unique experience of living here.”

RESILIENT and POWERFUL are just two words to describe the youth of our state. Continue reading to see what other words our staff chose to describe Alaska’s youth.

Alaska’s Youth Are…

SPIRITED – Lindsey Dawson, Mental Health Clinician
“I chose spirited because despite everything our youth have been through over their lifetime, they instill hope and happiness. They are full of life and determined to change the status quo. This generation has already changed so much and will continue to promote change.”

UNIQUE – Adrienne Lovelace, Client Care Specialist
“Our youth are different from youth anywhere else in the country. Here they face unique challenges growing up from the weather, expenses, long dark winters, small population, and isolation.”

TENACIOUS – Bobbie Freimuth, Administrative Specialist
“Every day, Alaska youth are striving to do better and persist at maintaining sobriety.”

INCREDIBLE – Sherrie Hinshaw, President & CEO
“So self-aware, ready to take on the world, and they have such big plans for what impact they want to make!”

Click the video to watch our staff share the words they chose to describe Alaska’s youth.

LOVED – Julia Luey, VP of Treatment Services
“We are all looking for love and connection on our journeys through life.”

PASSIONATE – Taylor Stapley, Peer Support Specialist
“I chose passionate because the kids we see here at VOA all have firm ideas on what they want to be and who they want to be, and they go after it with all they have.”

THE FUTURE – Esther Chu, Supportive Housing Case Manager
“They are the future because they are the next generation, and we should do everything we can to ensure their success and prosperity.”

VISIONARIES – Lonnie Ridgeway, Prevention Coalition Director
“I chose that word because I feel like the youth we have in our midst are unique in thinking about the future, because Alaska is just different.”

These are just a few words that can describe Alaska’s youth. During the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of Darkness Walk earlier this month, we handed out the stickers you see in the photo above. People also chose to celebrate youth with: magnificent, bright, independent, promising and dozens more. What do Alaska’s youth mean to you? What word would you choose?

Connection, Hope, & Healing: A Peer Support Specialist’s Story of Recovery

Michael Farrell, Peer Support Specialist, shared his story for for National Recovery Month

In recognition of Recovery Month, Michael Farrell, a Peer Support Specialist at VOA Alaska, shared his journey of recovery and healing from substance misuse and OCD.
“My journey of recovery from this disorder has taught me much about myself, how to reconcile with my past, and how to actively shape my present and my future. After nearly four years of sobriety, I am very slowly but surely recovering and discovering myself; I am learning to love myself and all that makes me tick.”

You Are Not Alone: Weekly Family Group Open to ALL Families

Sarah Weber, Family Support Coordinator, facilitates a weekly Family Support Group

When a family reaches out to VOA Alaska, one of the first things we want them to know is that they are not alone. To explore the family dynamics of recovery and healing in a safe and supportive environment, VOA Alaska holds a weekly family support group. This is open to ALL families, including those who are not currently enrolled with VOA Alaska services.

The Family Support Group meets every Wednesday evening from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm and offers a time for parents and caregivers to connect with peers, share experiences, and learn more about support and resources available to them.

For more information and to learn how to join, contact Sarah Weber, Family Support Coordinator, at (907) 419-7820 or

Photo(s) of the Month: Staff Appreciation Week!

Themed days brought wacky hair, sports jerseys, flannel and more fun into
our midtown Anchorage office and ARCH during Staff Appreciation Week.

National Recovery Month celebrates not just those who are on their own journey, but those who support them, advocate for them, and stand by them every step of the way. The team at VOA Alaska is staffed with committed and passionate people who give their all every day to meet the needs of youth and families in our care. They empower their clients to find their strength, build their resiliency, and improve their well-being.

During Staff Appreciation Week, we celebrated their commitment to our clients with moments to share joy, enjoy tasty treats, connect with colleagues, and win fun prizes! Interested in joining the VOA Alaska team or know someone who should join us? Check out our open positions on our Careers page.

Sponsor Spotlight: Trend Alaska

We’d like to thank Trend Alaska for their continued support of VOA Alaska and our work to serve Alaska’s youth and families. While the fashion show has been postponed to protect the health and safety of our generous community supporters, the Trend Alaska team is excited to announce the rescheduled date of February 26, 2022.

If you already purchased tickets for the October event or have signed on as a sponsor, your ticket and sponsorship will automatically carryover to the new date. (If you would prefer a refund, contact us at To stay updated on the latest news, designers, and more for the fashion show, follow the Facebook event page or visit