Providing Hope to Anchorage’s Youth

VOA Alaska’s October 2020 Newsletter

VOA Alaska’s Youth Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program serves the most vulnerable youth who are experiencing homelessness in Anchorage. Before we housed the first PSH youth in March 2019, there was no resource like PSH for transition-aged youth (18-24) in the state. Now, the program is a critical piece of the overall strategy to end youth homelessness in our city, and ultimately our state.

Austin* is one of the youths helped by the program. He had a history of being homeless and struggled to get on his feet due to substance misuse and trauma. When Austin first sought out help, he says he doesn’t even remember doing it because he was under the influence of Methamphetamines. But he knows he needed support. 

After working with our Youth Permanent Supportive Housing team, Austin is now settled into an apartment and finding a new sense of self-sufficiency and stability. He first considered his new space much like a hotel room because he had been homeless for so long. And in the beginning, he continued to struggle with substance misuse. But over time, with continued support, the struggles have eased, and he has now been sober for almost a year. He recently completed an internship where he used his experience to help others in similar situations, and now wants to make helping others a career.

Austin says his biggest achievement so far is resisting medication after a major surgery. He used just enough to get over the original pain and disposed of the rest. He’s found strength in his recovery, and he knows he’s on the right path to a healthy future.

Austin’s story shows how this program represents hope. Hope that with timely intervention, young adults who are struggling with mental health and substance misuse do not end up in the homeless system for decades or worse. Our goal is to equip these young Alaskans with the skills, tools, and resources they need to achieve self-sufficiency and not only survive, but truly thrive.

You can help provide hope by making a donation to VOA Alaska. Youth in the Permanent Supportive Housing program are provided access to services for absolutely no cost to them. Your generous donation will empower others like Austin to build their own thriving futures.

*Name has been changed to protect client’s identity.

Remembering Loved Ones Lost to Addiction

Dozens of crosses set up on a green lawn on a sunny blue day

As part of National Recovery Month in September, our Public Health and Prevention team partnered with the David Dylan Foundation for Connection Overcomes Addiction, a memorial for loved ones lost to addiction. Hundreds of crosses filled the lawn and passersby were invited to write the names of those they’ve lost on a cross of their own.

The VOA Alaska team and members of our Anchorage Adolescent Substance Misuse Prevention Coalition staffed a booth to hand out tobacco quit kits, medication disposal bags, and informational materials. The coalition, led by VOA Alaska’s Lonnie Ridgeway, is made up of stakeholders invested in preventing youth substance misuse in Anchorage through the promotion of healthy behaviors in teens and their families. If you are interested in joining the coalition or know of an event the coalition might be interested, please send a message to Lonnie.

Responding to the Need at the Time of Need

VOA Alaska is now offering same day service for substance use and mental health assessments!

On Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, clinicians will be standing by to meet with youth and learn what services are right for them. It’s the first step to connecting with our services, and now it can be scheduled and completed in one day!

If all available slots are booked on a given day, the client will take priority on the next assessment day. If you have a youth in your life that needs help, give us a call at (907) 279-9640 to get started.

Partner Spotlight | Alaska Airlines

Thank you to the Alaska Airlines Foundation for their LIFT grant to support our Transitions Program.

Through academic, housing, and employment support (and everything in-between), this program serves all VOA Alaska youth, providing them with valuable resources to help them travel to new destinations in their lives. Thank you, Alaska Airlines for supporting and empowering Alaska’s youth and families!

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