The Salvation Army has been in Alaska since 1898. The Christian charity has worked as far south as Ketchikan and as far north as Fairbanks in 17 communities with emergency food and shelter, addiction treatment, transitional housing and more. But they’ve never had a presence in Southwest Alaska. Jenni Ragland Salvation Army, Alaska. She says the visit is exploratory.
“There hasn’t necessarily been a strong emphasis in Western Alaska, particularly Southwest and Northwestern Alaska. And we think looking to see if there’s a way that we could meet needs in areas of Alaska where we don’t currently have a presence is something that we should be doing. So, Bethel is the first community in this process.”
Ragland says the Salvation Army is already working with the Alaska National Guard and the operation Santa Claus program, in the region. She says the purpose of the visit is to establish relationships with people who are already providing services and support.
“We want to learn about what are the great things that are happening and available to support and encourage healthy choices and healthy living, to engage in conversation and to listen, to hear people verbalize some of the areas they think there might be opportunity and look and determine what that might look like and how The Salvation Army might be able to offer some support.”
Major George Baker, the Salvation Army’s Alaska Divisional Commander, will be speaking to the Bethel Chamber of Commerce Thursday at noon at the Mud Hut. Ragland says Salvation Army officials will also meet with members of the faith community and social service providers. They’re also considering extending services to Northwest Alaska.