Note from Rep. Les Gara

Note from Rep. Les Gara

 

Holiday Foster Youth Laptop & Gift Drives; Earthquake-Hit Local Businesses

Note from Rep. Les Gara

Dec 10th, 2018

Voice Your Opinions!

Letters to the editor make a difference. You can send a letter of up to 200 words (shorter letters are more likely to be accepted) to the Alaska Dispatch News by email (letters@alaskadispatch.com); or by fax or mail (call them at 257-4308). Send letters to the Anchorage Press via e-mail editor@anchoragepress.com or by mail to 540 E. Fifth Ave, Anchorage, 99501. Feel free to call us if you need factual information to help you write a letter.

Contact the Governor. The Governor can be reached at 269-7450; or www.alaska.gov.

Contact us. My office can be reached at: 1500 W Benson Blvd, Anchorage, AK 99503; by phone: 269-0106; visit my website at http://replesgara.com; or email: Rep.Les.Gara@akleg.gov

Want to Volunteer To Help A Child?

You can be a Volunteer Mentor to help a child, through a program we worked with foster care advocates to start, at Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  Just call 433-4691. Have the time to do more?  Alaska has a major shortage of foster and adoptive parents, and you can help change a life by doing that.  To ask about foster parenting or adopting a child out of foster care call 1-800-478-7307. 

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Dear Friends and Neighbors:

 

I hope you are well after a week of very unwelcome house and building shakes. I haven't been a big fan of them, but now I know where my flashlights are! I'm very happy about how well our neighbors, teachers, public safety personnel, health care workers (zero hospital patient injuries that I've heard of!) and others have handled a stressful earthquake. 

 

I also want to give you a few ideas if you're looking for ways to give this holiday season.  

 

And as always, please shop locally as much as you are able, especially this year as many locally owned small businesses have been hit financially by last week's earthquake.

 

1. Laptops For Foster Youth: Launching Our 2018 Holiday Drive

 

Today we're launching  our 2018 Laptops for Foster Youth Holiday Drive.  Since starting this effort in 2010, well over 1,000 foster youth and recent foster care alumni have received laptop computers they need for school, college, job training, and to stay in touch with important people in their lives.

 

With Amanda Metivier, from UAA's Child Welfare Academy and who also grew up in foster care, I started this as a way to help youth through community volunteerism, without state funding or the passage of legislation. It was during one of those years that some folks were blocking good legislation for partisan reasons.  I remember thinking I wasn't going to let the Legislature block things that mattered, met with Amanda, and the response from the community has been amazing.

 

Foster youth deal with the kind of upheaval that can cause lifetime damage, and take youth off a track that will lead to success. Our goal is to help keep youth on the track to success.  As Amanda notes, "Youth matched with a laptop have a much greater chance at success in their education. They can stay on track in school, and many have graduated solely, because they have been matched w/a laptop through this program.”

 

This effort has come a long way.  Today the program matches new laptops, preferably lighter Chromebooks (which come in many brands) with youth, and the program succeeds through a mix of smaller individual donors, especially at the holidays when many people are looking for ways to give, and larger Alaska donors who help on an annual basis.

 

Facing Foster Care in Alaska is a non-profit. The organization is foster youth and alumnae run, provides peer support, training to state caseworkers, and advocates statewide on best foster care practices. 

 

FFCA is able to obtain discounts on larger purchases, so tax deductible monetary donations are the most efficient way to help.  

 

How To Donate:  You can make a tax deductible donation at www.ffcalaska.org.  Though you are asked to donate what you can afford, and not necessarily the exact cost of a laptop or Chromebook, as a rule of thumb each a new computer, purchased by FFCA, costs roughly $200. If you can't donate that amount, donated funds will be pooled together to purchase laptops.

 

If you wish to buy one or more laptops or workbooks, rather than donating funds, please contact FFCA at 907-230-8237, or email info@ffcalaska.org so you can discuss the specific basic features needed on a laptop.

 

Feel free to contact me if you have questions at 250-0106, or at Rep.Les.Gara@akleg.gov

 

2. Giving Tree:  Older Foster Youth Often Forgotten During the Holidays

 

What if you had no parent, and had a simple holiday gift request while seeking a brighter future through college or job training? Older foster youth are often the most forgotten of our neighbors. The UAA Child Welfare Academy has gathered student gift requests. I picked a tag with one youth's request up last week. You can either go pick up a "gift tag" with a youth's gift requests at the Child Welfare Academy (ask for Amanda), or just as for one by email or text.  The Child Welfare Academy is located at 1901 Bragaw St, Suite 105, or you can use the following text and e-mail contacts: almetivier@alaska.edu and 907-230-8237.

 

 

As always, contact us if you have any questions or concerns, or if we can help!  Wishing you health, happiness, and an enjoyable holiday season!

 

 

My Best, 

 

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Rep. Les Gara

 

 

 

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