Archive for November, 2009

Adopt-A-Family Food Drive and Alternatives to help Nunam Iqua

November 28, 2009

Nov 28, 2009

Greetings from Ugashik!

The adopt-a-family food drive for Nunam Iqua seems to be well underway!

12 families have been adopted.

I have been been receiving emails from people saying they are unable to afford to adopt a family and would like to know of other ways to help.  Here are some options that can be used if you are unable to adopt a family on your own for the winter:

The first option is sharing a family with others who can’t afford to adopt a family by themselves.  I have been making groups of wonderful people who are sharing a single adoptive family for the winter.  It has been great fun to watch as  I put them in contact with each other and Viola! they are off and  shopping and packing!  This way the financial burden of helping a family is spread out among many and thus reducing the costs to the people that help.

Secondly, you can make a donation to our SPAN Alaska account.  Once donations build up in that account I will make an order and send it to Nunam.

Thirdly, you don’t have to adopt a family for the entire winter, if you can only send one box then just let me know and I can double/triple etc adopt that family out to many to keep the donations coming in.

Thank you for all of your help and understanding in helping bring aide to the families in Nunam Iqua.

Fall Flood = Help needed in Nunam Iqua again this Winter!

November 26, 2009

Ice piled up during the Fall Flood at Nunam Iqua 11/11/09

Nov 26, 2009

I spent last night preparing food for Thanksgiving dinner and calling every household in Nunam Iqua.  Unfortunately I did not receive good news.  I was able to reach 23 out of the 36 household and out of those 23 families that I did talk to 22 were already struggling and requested help again with food to make it through the winter.

This is due to the fall flood in Nunam Iqua on November 11.  You can see from the pictures that this flooding wreaked havoc on the Yukon River ice.  The flooding brought in massive amounts of sea ice from the Bering Sea that unfortunately is still clogging the Yukon.  Several people lost their fishing nets they had set under the ice and a couple of families even lost their boats during the flood.

All of this sea ice still in the Yukon River at Nunam Iqua caused a hardship on the residents.  Normally during the winter families will go out onto the river and place fishing nets under the ice to catch fresh fish.  But due to the mess of sea ice currently in the Yukon this has become very difficult if not impossible to do now.   Fresh fish caught under the ice with nets is a large staple for families during the winter.

Not only did the ADF&G restrict commercial salmon fishing on the Lower Yukon, but also subsistence fishing was restricted to less than half of what is normally allowed.  These restrictions led to very poor subsistence fishing and lead to families not being able to put away the much needed dried and smoked salmon families depend on to make it through the winter.  Additionally due to the poor commercial fishing season a lot of families lost the majority if not all of their income that would normally be generated from commercial fishing.

Lack of dried and smoked salmon were put away during the summer due to the restrictions, plus families are not getting the fresh fish they rely on due to the flooding.  This is already causing a hardship on families in Nunam Iqua this winter.

You can see the ice on the Yukon piled up in the background

I need help with getting food to the needy families in Nunam Iqua.  Last winter I organized an adopt a family for the winter food drive.  I complied a list of every needy family in Nunam Iqua and their addresses, family size and needed items.  Then wonderful people from all over not only Alaska but the entire United States and Canada and around the world adopted these families and sent them flat rate boxes of much needed food and supplies directly to their post office boxes.

I have complied a list of the needy families in Nunam Iqua.   I am wintering in Ugashik this year, so I will not be able to accept and distribute food like I was able to last winter.  I will only be doing the adopt a family for the winter food drive this winter.

Giving Thanks by “Paying it Forward!”

November 25, 2009

Nov 25, 2009

Entering into our coldest season and the holidays, we made a point to reflect on much that has happened in the last ten to twelve months. Our lives have been hectic, joyful and heart wrenching.

This can be a time of great joy for many people, yet also a time of tension and fear for people and families having a hard time.

We want to share with all of you, who have shared so much with all of us this past almost a year, some ideas of how to ‘Pay it Forward’ and maybe make life a tad easier for someone needing help.

An action does not have to be large, or even involve money but more importantly just let others know that someone cares about them.

Please take a few minutes to read some of our ideas and find a way that you  can ‘Pay it Forward” in your community.


Ways to “Pay it forward”

*Offer to make deliveries for any group doing food baskets or even Meals on Wheels. (I looped a few deliveries into my normal running chores and it took me only a few extra minutes to do it)

*Every time you go past one of those Salvation Army bell ringers pull the spare change out of your pocket or wallet and drop it. Can do it going in or out of a store. Little amounts add up and it sure helps put a smile on a chilled bell ringer!!

*As was suggested on one of our favorite blogs– when shopping at one of the large box stores for groceries donate the rest of a case of something you might only need a few cans/jars of.

*For those in the south — when in the garden pick those last fall flowers and foliage and donate it to a local children’s or adult center. Helps if you call first to see if they have any rules.

*For those who sew, knit or crochet- contact your local hospital and ask if they need things for new babies or little ‘cough pillows’ for patients. You can use scraps and it WILL BE appreciated.

*Participate in the rounding up of purchases at the various stores, we have seen it mostly in grocery, for larger donations being grouped together.

*Write a thank you to those you interact with on a regular basis, like your child’s school office staff, your church staff, the local bus company.  A simple thanks goes along way!

*If you want to do something longer term that is more time than money think of being a Big Sister/Big Brother.

*If animals are more your style look up the service animal organizations. They are usually in need of people who will do what they call ‘puppy walkers’. You get the puppy at about 8 weeks and raise it through its first 12-18 months teaching it all the basic obedience training. They provide lots of support. It is REALLY rewarding but is a little hard to let that animal go the first time. They even let kids do this WITH A PARENT committing too.

*Respite care for foster families– you go through a background check and some basic training but then act as back up care for foster families so they get a break. Can be simply baby sitting or even overnight care.

There are LOTS of programs so just take a few minutes to look around-(ask if they can use your time if you can’t do donations)

Nursing/assistant living home



Animal shelters

Food banks


Public TV



Make a Wish

Veteran Centers

More than anything we want to let you all know how much you have enriched our lives these past months with all your concern and help.

We would have never thought we could have the impact we have had, totally with your help, by just speaking up when we did. It has changed the lives of many you will never know.

Have a happy holiday and travel safely.  All of you are in our thoughts and prayers and we go into this season.

Making our lists and checking them twice!

November 24, 2009

Nov 24, 2009

We have been busy on the phone and computer,  making our lists and checking them twice.   We have been receiving emails and answering comments asking if we are going to need to have food drives again this winter.  We have been busy contacting the residents of our villages and local entities to assess how everyone is doing so far this winter.

Ann has been talking to people in Nunam Iqua and found out that there was some property loss and damage during the flood on Nov. 11.  Some families lost their boats, others lost their nets during the flood.  One family had some damage on their house due to the high winds.  Ann is going to be calling every family to check and see how they are doing and to find out if they need help with food this winter.

Since Ann is spending this winter in Ugashik she will not be able to have a food drive and will be unable to accept flat rate boxes like last year to distribute to the needy families.  Instead she is gathering information to start adopting needing families. She will comply a list of family names, addresses, family size and specific needs.  Once this list is complied individuals/families will be able to contact her and adopt a family to send food to directly.

Victoria has been in contact with Pilot Point and is finding out what the needs are there this winter.  Once she has that information they will decide  whether or not to do a food drive or to adopt out individual families.

Thank you for your time and desire to help those in need in rural Alaska.  We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Ann and Vic

Welcome to Glenna Strongheart

November 18, 2009
On Nov 12, 2009  Glenna Gabriella Kegginacengaq Strongheart was born.

Sincere thanks to Victoria and husband Roland for refurbishing a little building near their house.  They spent a lot of time and money to make a cozy home, bathroom and all, for Ann’s family who will be spending the winter in Ugashik.

Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes

November 5, 2009

Nov 5, 2009

Pres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian TribesPres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes


Pres. Obama delivered the opening remarks at a White House Tribal Nations Conference and participated in a discussion with leaders from the 564 federally recognized tribes. The conference is addressing issues facing American Indian tribes such as economic development, housing and education. This is the first such meeting since 1994. Washington, DC

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This is definitely a huge and wonderful step in the right direction!