Alaska Health Fair relies on your help

I have worked with Alaska Health Fair’s dedicated team of employees for seven years and instead of the “Seven Year Itch” to move on, I’m even more in love with our agency and more dedicated to providing health services to Alaska residents. We have been a statewide non-profit for 40 years, as of 2020, with offices in both Anchorage and Fairbanks. We started from a small National Institutes of Health grant, that all 50 states received, each state being asked to go forth and develop a health education program. I found out that in the years before my starting, 48 states had failed in their attempts to have a successful non-profit program for their residents, whether due to mismanagement, being merged into a for-profit entity or just closing up shop. Only Alaska (Alaska Health Fair, Inc.) and Colorado (9HealthFairs) have succeeded, and both agencies continue to look for ways to improve their residents’ overall health. Our small team of four full time staff and volunteers work very hard to achieve important goals on a daily basis.

Our most pressing need

Of course we need donors, sponsors, site coordinators and sites to hold health fairs, but our most important need is volunteers. Volunteers are our lifeblood. We would simply not exist with only four staff to cover a state 2.5 times the size of Texas without local residents that were willing to give back to their community. These are dedicated people who believe in helping other Alaskans, as we do. About two-thirds of our volunteers are medical -- RNs or paramedics, nursing students, EMTs, phlebotomists or CMAs, nurse practitioners, doctors -- and one-third are non-medical -- bank tellers, administrative professionals, business owners, retirees, teachers, students, JROTC cadets, youth club and church group members, and others. But the most important need we have in the volunteer area are people trained to perform proper blood draws. That skill set is something that not everyone can do and yet, because we offer blood tests for about 20% of what you pay at a medical clinic or hospital, it is extremely important that we have people well versed in providing this vital service. So, if you have that skill set or know someone that does, please ask them to consider volunteering with Alaska Health Fair. What they will do with our agency will help save lives and provide services to people who can’t afford to go elsewhere for medical care. And remember that our volunteer hours qualify for nursing license renewal requirements.

Health fairs attract people from all walks of life and income levels. They can have an affordable, comprehensive, private blood test with us and possibly save their lives. So, if you’re interested in volunteering or just attending an Alaska Health Fair event, check out our website at The updated Spring 2020 health fair schedule will be posted after Jan. 10. Or call Anchorage (907-278-0234), Fairbanks (907-374-6853) or Juneau (907-723-5100) for information.

The first two health fairs of the season are:

Jan. 29, Fairbanks  Project Homeless Connect, JP Jones Center, 2400 Rickert St., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For people who are homeless or facing homelessness.

Feb. 1, Anchorage  Gerrie Ivy Memorial Community Fair at First Christian Church, 3031 LaTouche St., 8 a.m. to noon. Open to everyone.

Sharon Phillips is the Alaska Health Fair Tanana Valley/Northern Region Program Director.