USAFV will host gathering Saturday; Community Art Show will open Friday, with some proceeds for family of late Charlene Malepeai Mamea
Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence is hosting a community support gathering on Saturday.
The gathering — from 6 to 8 p.m., at the high school small gym — will take the place of USAFV’s scheduled Soup-Off fundraiser. The Soup-Off was canceled following recent difficult events in the community, including the death of Charlene Malepeai Mamea, 34, whose remains were found Tuesday after two days of extensive search efforts
Meanwhile, the Community Art Show will open Friday as scheduled at the Museum of the Aleutians, with a reception starting at 6 p.m.
The Aleutian Arts Council’s 30th annual show will feature work by artists who are or have been residents of the Aleutian Islands. Stacy Alvarado, an organizer, said several artists have decided to donate pieces in recognition of Malepeai Mamea.
“Whatever funds those pieces make, we’re going to donate that to Charlene’s family,” said Alvarado, adding that she hopes art can help offer support and healing to the community.
An online fundraiser organized by Malepeai Mamea’s family is also underway.
To learn more about the resources available to Unalaskans looking for support, as well as USAFV’s Saturday gathering, KUCB’s Laura Kraegel sat down with USAFV Executive Director M. Lynn Crane and Board Chair Karen Kresh.
M. LYNN CRANE: Just knowing that the last few weeks have brought a lot of challenging situations to our community and some sad situations to our community, we felt that maybe it was not the right time to do a fundraiser. And we wanted to try to figure out something we could do that would be more helpful to people who might be having a hard time. So we just decided to do what we’re calling a community support gathering this Saturday, March 25.
KUCB: Thank you, Lynne. And Karen, can you tell us what will this community gathering look like? What can folks expect, if they’re thinking about attending?
KAREN KRESH: We know that it’s important for people to be able to get together during difficult times. So we still wanted to offer a way for people to gather and be around their friends and neighbors, especially if they’re feeling sad or lonely right now. So there will be a big gathering and there will be food. And we’ll have some folks from APIA [Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association] Behavioral Health there. And we’ll have USAFV staff and board members there, with some educational materials about mental health and being there for each other. But also just — we’ll have food. We’ll have a gathering. It’s pretty simple and informal, and we just hope people will show up.
CRANE: We especially want to invite our local first responders. We know they do so much for our community. And we want to make sure that they know how much they’re appreciated and how grateful we are for what they do for us, day in and day out. Especially — well, always, but especially recently.
KUCB: Absolutely. And for someone who maybe can’t attend the gathering this weekend, or is maybe looking to get some support before then, can you tell us a bit more about those resources that are available right now?
CRANE: So APIA does have two wonderful behavioral health providers here in town. And they’re available at 907-581-2751. And you can also call the USAFV crisis line 24/7 at 907-581-1500. And we also have a text line that’s available through USAFV, that’s available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, at 907-359-1500. We just want to make sure people know that it’s okay to not be okay. And we all need — everyone, everyone in this room, everyone in this town, we all need some help. We want to make it okay for people to reach out and connect together.
KRESH: And I think that people might sometimes think they can only call USAFV in certain specific types of situations. But I hope that everybody knows that they can call that crisis line anytime they’re in crisis and they just need to talk to somebody. So if they’re in doubt, we would rather have them call than not. And if we can’t help with their specific issue, at least the person answering the phone can connect them with someone who can help them. So if you’re in doubt, not sure if it’s the right number to call, then just call.
KUCB: And maybe I should back us up even a little bit further. What is USAFV all about? For someone who hasn’t interacted with your organization before, or is maybe new to the island, what is USAFV? And what do you do there?
CRANE: Sure. So our main mission is to provide services to people impacted by domestic and sexual violence. But because our community has limited social services available, we also do a lot of other things in the community. We operate as the community’s food bank. We have a crisis line and a crisis text line. We can help people sign up for various kinds of services and assistance, like public assistance or food stamps, all that kind of stuff. We provide referrals and support. We assist people who may be homeless or stranded, or teetering on the edge of homelessness. You know, funding dependent. And just all kinds of things -- we kind of are a catch-all. And if someone has an issue they’re dealing with, they can call us. And we will try to point them in the right direction if we’re not able to help.
KUCB: And I know fundraising is not your focus right now. But since it is a well-loved event in town, and I know folks will ask, are you planning to reschedule the soup off sometime down the road?
CRANE: You know, we’ve really been scouring the calendar and talking to other local organizations and trying to figure out how to make it work with our staff travel schedule that’s coming up. And we just don’t see how we can make it work this spring. We might take some of our bigger-ticket items that were donated, like airline tickets, and maybe a few other things, and do an online auction. We’re still figuring all of that out right now. Right now, the fundraising priority has kind of been put on the backburner. We are more focused on trying to figure out how we can be of service to the community and just get the support out there for people who might be feeling isolated, as Karen said. So we will definitely keep the community posted on whether we’re able to maybe do an online auction or something like that.