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Paths to Recovery advisory board wants your ideas

When I was asked to serve on the Paths to Recovery Community Advisory Board, I was skeptical of participating on yet another board to merely discuss an issue. Yet every day, I witness the effects of alcohol overuse in our community. The problem is not going away and the need for practical solutions is ongoing.


I am a lifelong Alaskan and the health of our community is important to me. As the director of Housing First, I have witnessed firsthand the significant impact of alcohol dependency. Alaska is among the U.S. leaders in per-capita alcohol consumption and our alcohol mortality rate is three times the national average. We are also a national leader in several other grim statistics, including high rates of violent crime, suicide and sexual abuse.
So, I agreed to serve. Today, as a member of the Paths to Recovery Community Advisory Board, I invite you to join me from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 2 at the Noel Wien Public Library auditorium. I will be facilitating a community listening and brainstorming session on alcohol overuse in the Interior.
This will be the first of four community listening sessions over the course of the next year. Our conversation on Wednesday will focus on the continuum of care — what substance abuse services exist in our community and what is missing. The session won’t rehash what hasn’t worked before but rather will focus on new thinking, new ideas and new solutions.
The Community Advisory Board and Paths to Recovery project are sponsored by Recover Alaska, a multi-sector action group formed by concerned citizens and funded by a number of stakeholders, including the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Mat-Su Health Foundation, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Southcentral Foundation. The organization is dedicated to reducing the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption in Alaska.
The listening session will be hosted by the Community Advisory Board, which consists of representatives from the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation, Homeless Coalition, Fairbanks Police Department, borough schools, Tanana Chiefs Conference, bar owners and other concerned local residents and businesses.
As Fairbanksans, we are independent and self-reliant. But, we also know that we can accomplish almost anything by discussing the issue, engaging our creative spirit, identifying possible solutions and working together to accomplish the goal. When I envision the future of Fairbanks, I’d like it to be a bit better than it is today. One way to do that is to have programs and services in place to help friends and neighbors successfully overcome alcohol use and abuse. I encourage you to join us on Wednesday night. This is our chance to come together for our community, families and friends. Let’s be part of the solution.
A lifelong Interior resident, Shirley Lee is the director of Fairbanks’ Housing First project.
Originally published August 30, 2015 by Shirley Lee in Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


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