Bringing lasting change to Alaska through community investment

By Carey Charpentier

Updated: April 12, 2022 Posted: April 12, 2022

This is a love letter to the Alaska Community Foundation (ACF). With everything going wrong in the world, this is a story about what’s going right. ACF believes in the power of long-term community investment to create lasting change to benefit future generations, and they envision an Alaska where communities come together and have resources to thrive.

It is difficult to put into words the positive impact that ACF has on one of our very specific communities. First, allow me to introduce myself. I am the director of the Anchorage Young Cancer Coalition (AYCC), a support group for young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer. Although we are based in Anchorage, we support members statewide.

It’s almost impossible to imagine what it’s like to live your life as a young adult – maybe you’re starting your first job, or getting ready to start a family, or settling into your first home. , or you’re raising toddlers – when you’re diagnosed with cancer out of left field. It’s truly shocking and devastating in an indescribable way, because no one sees it coming and no one thinks it will happen to them, until it does. At the best of times, navigating cancer is extremely difficult. During the time of COVID-19, the situation has worsened considerably. Vulnerability to severe COVID symptoms or life-threatening illnesses due to the immunosuppressive effects of common cancer treatments has prompted cancer patients to take extra precautions over the past two years, including self-isolation and minimizing physical contact, which significantly impairs social and peer support. networks for someone just when they need it most.

Of course, there are the practical issues faced by the cancer patient, including worsening financial hardship, job changes, loss of income, and so on. This trauma and the complexity of the struggle to stay alive – not only from cancer, but also from the pandemic – has naturally and undeniably affected our mental health. This is where ACF shines, rushing like a superhero to really make a positive impact.

ACF recently awarded a grant to our small local non-profit organization that will allow us to provide barrier-free online mental health therapy to anyone in our group who wants it. It’s really unbelievable. Someone with a cancer diagnosis who realizes they need a professional to talk to, can get one just by logging on! Talk about long-term community investment for the benefit of future generations! This gift is truly one we sorely need, and one I wish were available to all Alaskans.

Want to help society improve for the future? Just imagine the positive impacts that would be felt if all of our vulnerable Alaskans, regardless of the type of trauma they experience – physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse, children growing up in foster care, illness, anxiety, depression, problems relationships, LGBTQ+ issues, anger, stress, addiction, eating issues, family conflict, grief, coping with life changes – could access a mental health professional. Because if I could just “click, click” and ask someone to help me through my trauma, well, maybe I’d be a better parent, partner, friend, co-worker, boss, and neighbor. AYCC members don’t have to imagine it because it is there and it is thanks to the work of ACF.

Thank you, ACF, for helping break down barriers so we can access the resources we need to thrive! Thank you for the work you do to improve the lives of Alaskans.

Carey Charpentier was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34 and is the founder and director of the Anchorage Young Cancer Coalition.

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Jill E. Washington