Nenana Wellness Coalition
September 2, 2014
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had seven participants today: Kat McElroy, Jessica Durtsche, Harriett Bortst, Maryellen Robinson Jeannie Bennett, Bonnie Reed, and Tim Horn.
We enjoyed beef stew, mixed garden salad, and Ritz crackers with sliced cheese for lunch and homema de candies for dessert.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Jeannie Bennett.
PRAYER was lead by Bonnie, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted at the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list with no reported issues.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: No guests today.
Discussion on DVD Drunk in Public: Jessica requested that during discussion, everyone make an effort to not cross talk, to allow others to finish their thoughts before offering further input. Kat began the discussion by saying this DVD is difficult for her to watch because it portrays how hopeless she feels at times working with people struggling with alcohol addiction. A person she knows who has not been able to sustain any significant abstinence describes chronic inebriates as “whiskey ghosts,” and doesn’t want to “end up like that,” (drunk every day) but even knowing the risks she still turns to drugs and alcohol. This is then third time Kat has watched this documentary and each new viewing, she4 sees more details of why Mr. Allen was unable to stay stopped from alcohol use: trauma, brain damage, shame, all conspire to keep him coming back to the bottle de4spite his stated intentions not to drink again.
Tim said that for her the take away message was that no matter how badly off someone appears to be, you cannot write anyone off. She reflected on how in the end, after hundreds of arrests and countless interventions and attempts to quit, Mr. Allen did seem to become able to moderate his alcohol use somewhat. She also said that she sees clearly that giving money to a chronic inebriate would never be a good thing as it would most likely be used to obtain alcohol. Food or other material support, she reasoned, would be more helpful. Along discussion ensued regarding nutrition and recovery and some of the digestive issues created by chronic alcohol abuse. Kat suggested soup, bone broth, cooked moose meat, nutritionally dense foods, easily digested would be best. Jeannie wondered if this may be one factor that comes into play as a barrier when we attempt to get our local inebriates to participate in community events. Food is maybe not that strong an attraction to them.
Jessica said the film speaks to her of the need for a person to be willing to change before external interventions can really be successful. There is a spiritual component in giving up and being willing to let others help. She mentioned how this informs her work with clients, the need for some buy-in on their part. She wonders what it was, after hundreds of arrests, which finally caused Mr. Allen to be able to ask for help. Discussion ensued regarding the incredibly high cost of arrests/incarceration and revolving door ER visits to deal with the problems of chronic intoxication. Kat mentioned Shirley Lee’s remarks at the Rural Provider’s Conference this summer, how she had to “sell” the Housing First Project in Fairbanks on the fiscal savings rather than the fact that it saves lives.
Jeannie said the video helped her to understand about what alcoholics are experiencing. “As community members, we need to be educated,” she said. Discussion ensued regarding which DVD we should view next. Jessica suggested The Anonymous People as it depicts recovery from addiction. September 30th was agreed upon as a viewing date. Kat will send Tim information for making a flyer for PR. Kat hopes that in time people will gain understanding of addiction as a brain disorder. Until then, people will continue looking down on addicts and faulting them.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: “I remember Dawson (No Horse) said, ‘Once you say your prayers, don’t worry about them. If you worry about them, they’ll just fade away.'” Chuck Ross, LAKOTA
Harriett: Mentioned that one of her sons and her daughter are addicts; both have achieved long-term abstinence, and are active in Narcotics Anonymous as part of their recovery process. Jeannie has been helping her sort through her stuff and attend to getting her will made.
Kat: Mama Pig had nine little piggies born Sunday night, eight of which survived. Leon has enrolled in Fire Science classes at UAF and is staying at his mom’s in North Pole. Kat has turned his bedroom into a glass studio and is teaching herself wirework.
Jessica: Has a busy week mapped out. She starts school for RHS next week and has to get her car sorted out as it has been subject to a factory recall.
Maryellen: Thursday at 4:30 PM in Anderson she will be holding a Back-To-School BBQ. She is in the middle of planning for Dancing In The Streets. The parade will begin at five with dinner and dance to follow, Friday, September 12th. Megan Spencer is organizing community member recognitions. Laura has booked a DJ. Mike is doing the food, with a Mexican Fiesta theme. Maryellen will be making desserts, including flan. She will be starting her practicum next week at the school. She needs to get 200 hours this semester and 200 hours next semester.
Tim: Jack Forness’s funeral is scheduled for family and friends Saturday, 2 PM, at the Civic Center, internment at the cemetery out on the highway. There will be a pot luck BBQ afterwards at the Forness home, open to the community. The Nenana Book Club will meet next Monday, September 8, 7 PM, at Karen Harvey’s house, to discuss Wuthering Heights. Tuesday the 9th, Brian Blair will be presenting Envisioning Wellness at WIN. The 10th, Wednesday, the next Health Challenge begins, “Fall Into Health.”
Sam and Evelyn Verhagen will be hosting an end-of-summer BBQ at their house Friday, September 5, at 6:30 PM.
Bonnie: Kenny Menano’s funeral pot latch will take place after hunting season. The Seniors continue hosting Game Night at Meda Lord center every Monday night. Yesterday they had a nice BBQ at the Senior Center.
Jeannie: Despite the rain, Rob was able to work yesterday and got the hydraulic lifts into place for the garage doors. Today he will be pouring concrete. Jeannie is grateful for the cooler weather as it means the end of the mosquitoes.
ADJOURNMENT: 2:10 PM