Help Ugashik and Pilot Point
Update No 3:
Please read this before sending items to Vic in Ugashik:
We are shutting down the food drive for the summer to Ugashik and Pilot.
Thanks for all your help and warm wishes this winter for the villagers of Ugashik and Pilot Point to help get them through the winter.
Spring and summer seasons bring fishing and work projects for just about anyone who can work. We also get a huge influx of people into both villages and thus it would be a nightmare trying to keep the food drive organized and fair for all residents.
Thanks so much,
February 11, 2009
After reading Victoria’s letter in the Tundra Drums, AnnS contacted her with an offer to help Victoria set up a food drive in her region.
Here is Vic’s story:
I, too, read about the crisis in the YK Delta when it was just a letter to the newspaper and still gathering steam. My first thought was – “by the grace of God…!!” Then I realized my village, and the village ‘next door’, Pilot Point, most likely had people in the same situation, or close to it.
A week before that, I found out that Pilot Point, a mere 7 miles from us, had not gotten their winter propane due to an early freeze up. This meant that they had no cooking fuel. They had been out for over a month, and were being forced to pay over $400 for a 100 # bottle. I could not imagine how these families were going to afford that.
I then started looking even closer to those in our own village and asked a few questions. Sure enough, there seemed to be signs that I had not paid enough attention to. People’s pride wouldn’t allow their hardships to show. Both villages had people that were living with the same kinds of issues and hardships. As some discrete inquiries were made the stories came, one of a household who could use ‘some things’ and come to find out had NO food in the house and no idea when there would be some. Of an elder who was buying heating fuel a few gallons at a time as his check did not allow for more than that. How could I have missed this?
I thought, “We have to get the state to look at these issues both in the short term and the long term!”. This was the second year in a row that Pilot Point had been forced to fly in fuel, making it very expensive. This year the difference came from our salmon run which was less than half the predicted forecast and causing one of the worst harvests ever remembered. Scary part – we have a very low forecast, again, for this coming year. How were people going to make it? Ugashik, AK
So having all those emotions I wrote up a quick letter to the newspaper to say “Hey look around it isn’t just one area!” A few days later I heard that the YK Delta was getting some relief, and I was happy. I was still thinking about how our region on the Alaska Peninsula would fare if this negative temperature cold snap continued. About that time I get a call from a reporter who wanted to publish my letter – which was a tough thing to agree to! They needed my name on it and I did not want attention to come to me, but to the issues.
As the reporter asked more details and we talked, I realized that the pride and determination of my neighbors, as in the YK Delta, would not bring my region’s crisis to the attention of anyone without some one speaking up! I wanted this discussion to reach further into the future and make us ALL look harder at HOW we can help ourselves. My permission was given with all this in mind.
WOW – the letter got published and AnnS of Nunam Iqua sent an email offering help. Then I received more calls. Off and rolling we are, and now we are trying to make sure we can address the needs of the communities. We are working with Pilot Point Tribal Council for the effort as they have a bigger need and we can coordinate with them so much easier.
I really had no idea I would join this effort. Given that we have, I am hoping that we can open the door for people to better understand the issues that we, in Western Alaska, face on a day to day basis. I hope that people will see that we are stubborn, but hard working. We are a soft-hearted group of people that pull together to help each other. With some additional help we can ultimately solve these issues long term. It is not an easy discussion to hold!
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Update No 1:
One of the quickest and easiest ways to help is to pick up a FREE flat rate priority mail box at the post office, fill it with items from the list below (remove extra packaging to fit more in the box), use Ziplok bags and other useful items as packing material. Please note that Vic’s list below differs somewhat from the Nunam Iqua list.
There are no resident babies under 1 yr old. We have more elders in our villages so our list is a little different:
pasta- all kinds
canned fruit and veggies
Also we are low on meat, but do have fish – so anything of the canned meat is great – corned beef hash, Spam, etc.
Thank you ALL so much. It is hard when there is no store in either of our villages and the costs are so high to bring things in. The wait can be from a few days, for ‘local’ to 4-6 weeks, cheaper, for grocery orders to arrive. Families are hard pressed to guess and then stretch things to make it.
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Update No 2:
February 18, 2009
Victoria reports receiving the first boxes of food, over 100 pounds! She has delivered it to the neediest of families.
“We had not said too much about what we were doing until the food started coming. No one expected the food and were overwhelmed and happy when we showed up with the bags. I couldn’t take pictures – too many tears in everyone’s eyes because of this stuff:-)”
Bags ready to be delivered to needy villagers