Strong and vibrant communities are concerned with the health, safety and security of their residents. At the United Way of the Tanana Valley, we believe that these qualities are the right of every community member, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Like many of you, we are deeply concerned by the scope and depth of the immediate and drastic cuts to our state’s budget. We acknowledge that our state is facing many issues and that there is no easy solution. We also see and feel the angst, worry and dismay of many of our fellow community members, all of whom we count as family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Our largest concern, however, lies with the future of our local nonprofits that work to provide health and social services and the future of our community neighbors who rely on those services. It is easy to forget, in the midst of the many discussions about Alaska’s fiscal future, that there are people among us who were already vulnerable prior to the current legislative session and state administration. Our nonprofit agencies, staff and volunteers have already sacrificed countless hours advocating for the survival of their organizations and services, hours that should have been dedicated to actually providing those services. One local nonprofit dedicated to giving homeless and at-risk children a safe place to sleep is all but certain to close its doors, a tragic action that will cause devastating ripple effects not only through other nonprofit agencies but also in the lives of actual human children.
Unless the impasse in Juneau subsides, nonprofit agencies that receive federal funding are in danger of losing all funding because of the lack of matching state dollars. These impacts are real and will change the fabric of our community on an economic and social scale for decades to come.
In times like these, we as a community must remember why we chose Fairbanks to make our home. We have faced tough times before and have always come out stronger because we extended a helping hand to others. Now, more than ever, we must work to make sure that no one gets left behind. Although we know that cuts of this size cannot be made up merely by the generosity of our community, we can absolutely do our best to support the organizations that do the hard work of lifting up our community neighbors and giving them a future to believe in.
The United Way of the Tanana Valley harnesses the collective power of nonprofits, businesses and community members to make a positive and lasting impact on all who live here. We can only do this with your commitment. Interior Alaskans never back down from a challenge, and that’s why we live here. While our state braces for tough times, we will be here for the Tanana Valley, living united, and we hope that you will, too.
Brenda Riley is executive director of the United Way of the Tanana Valley. The board of directors includes Jonathon Bradish, Jennifer Luke, Erick Jewkes, Yatibaey Evans, Carol Barnett, Mike Richards, Jonathon Tibbs, Kathryn Strle, Max Roberts, Curtis Walsmley, Shannon Fortune and Daniel Heckman.