Access Alaska seeks peer mentors for new program

My name is Desiree Rodriguez, and I am the peer mentor advocate at Access Alaska. I happen to be in a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury from cancer when I was age three. Although I grew up disabled, I have been fighting for my independence since I was 12. Today, I work full-time and live independently. My goal is to help people feel like they are part of a community and reach their goals.

Access Alaska provides independent living services to seniors and people with disabilities. We are well known for our lending closet, where people can borrow wheelchairs, walkers and other items and equipment.

Recently we started our peer mentorship program in which people with any disability can sign up and be a mentor or a mentee and help other people with disabilities achieve their goals. This program is free, like the rest of our services. Mentors will undergo an interview, background check, peer mentorship training and will be paired with someone with the same disability (if available), interest and personality. Being a mentor is a volunteer position but can be used to boost your resume and practice networking, advocacy, communication and avoid isolation. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide transportation, but we encourage our mentors and mentees to meet in our office or in public for safety and ethical reasons. Your mentor or mentee will be a “professional friend” or an “advocate”.

Our new program covers Anchorage, Eagle River and Mat-Su. If the program is successful, it will go statewide. If you have some free time and need help navigating life with a disability any disability, including age related issues, mental illness, substance abuse, etc. or you have mastered life with a disability and know many community resources, this might be the perfect program for you to network and help the disability community. Mentees don’t need a background check or training.

Applicants must have lived experience with a disability and are maintaining their own personal wellness and able to support others. Applicants must be 19 years of age or older and have a desire to learn and practice skills of communication, support and group facilitation.

Access Alaska will provide training and ongoing feedback and support in a team environment.

Please help us spread the word. Contact Access Alaska and ask about our peer mentorship program at 907-248-4777 or email Questions are welcome.