State's Elder Mentors come together in Anchorage
July 1, 2023 | View PDF
Last month, fifty Elder Mentors from all over Alaska gathered in Anchorage for the annual Elder Mentor conference. This year's theme was "Connecting Through Service". Returning Elder Mentor volunteers were celebrated for completing another year of service as new volunteers were welcomed into the program, all the while preparing for another upcoming school year mentoring youth.
Elder Mentors participated in several workshops and presentations, sharing their stories, learning and growing together as a community. Volunteers were trained in trauma-informed care, participated in meditation and self-care exercises, reflected on why they became Elder Mentors, and discussed the successes and challenges they faced this year. Old and new volunteers exchanged experiences and supported one another. Friendships and long-lasting bonds were made. Tons of pictures were taken. Lots of cookies were eaten.
The final day of the conference came to a close with a wonderful recognition luncheon, featuring keynote speaker Earl from Chevak, and a fantastic dance performance by the Ladies of the Pacific Dance Academy.
"I have 25 grandkids and 27 great-grandkids. I'm glad you [RurAL CAP] are doing this program," said Natalia Wassilliey, recently joined Elder Mentor volunteer in New Stuyahok. "You're bringing back our culture. The kids we teach can go home and say to their family, 'look what I made in Yup'ik class.' We are saving our culture. I tell the kids, these aren't my words, these are my great grandmother's words. We have to pass down the wisdom and traditions. I hope to bring back our dance group this year, too."
The Elder Mentor Program volunteers and staff wish Tatianna Andrew a happy retirement. She has been a site supervisor for the program for several years. Thanks for all you do.
The Elder Mentor Program is currently accepting applications for the coming school year. Benefits for qualifying seniors age 55 and older include paid time off, a tax-free stipend, paid holidays, free meals and travel assistance. For more information and to apply, call 907-865-7276. Check out the online application and learn more at http://www.eldermentor.org. Reach the team via e-mail at email@example.com. Search "Elder Mentor" on Facebook.
Longtime Elder Mentor Sophie Moxie is our featured volunteer of the month. Enjoy her smoked salmon recipe, below.
Teaching the important things, by Sophie Moxie
I am Sophie Moxie and I am from New Stuyahok. I have a gray house. Our village is beautiful. I love picking berries and splitting fish. I like to cut meat when I have nothing to do and clean the house. My hobbies include knitting and bingo. I also enjoy babysitting. Sometimes we go outside to have some fresh air and go hunting, which I love. We hunt many kinds of animals. Sometimes people like to give elders different foods and meats, and we gladly accept. And we share. I started as an Elder Mentor on Aug. 14, 2014. I tell stories to the kids in school, I help during Exploration Week, and I assist tenth graders with math and Yup'ik words. When they are having problems, like when they can't finish their homework, we talk to them and find out what's wrong, and figure out what to do.
I have three great-granddaughters and I walk with them to school. We have to teach the kids while they are young. If we don't, they won't know the important things. Now they will look back and remember us.
Smoked Salmon, by Sophie Moxie
This is how I prepare fish. You need a knife, table, two buckets and a smoke rack. Salt and water. Your king salmon fish. Preparation takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how fast you prepare the fish.
• Catch a fish. Cut off the head.
• Scrape out the inside. Wash the fish insides.
• Cut off the neck and tail.
• Cut the strips, wash them in a bucket.
• Put the strips in another bucket of saltwater brine and stir for 5 mins until it soaks up all the saltwater.
• Hang on the rack and air dry.
• Move to the smokehouse (we burn cottonwood) and smoke them before they turn black, when the skin gets a little color. The smoking should take around two weeks.