Alaska Native corporations and a local tribe with ties to Kodiak collectively donated $32,000 during the federal government shutdown to help Coast Guard families station there while service members on the island worked without pay.
“Our Aluttiq people have been on Kodiak Island for thousands of years and we take care of our guests,” said Stacey Simmons, senior director of shareholder services at Koniag Inc. “Our Coast Guard families are no different from our own. They are our neighbors, friends and heroes. Our region understands the importance of the Coast Guard and the safety they bring to our island, We did what we could because it was the right thing to do,” said Simmons, who is also the vice president of the Discover Kodiak board of directors and past president of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce.
Donors included Koniag, Afognak Native Corp., Ouzinkie and Katmai Corp., Old Harbor Native Corp., Natives of Kodiak, Leisnoi and Akhiok-Kaguyak Inc., and the Native Village of Port Lions.
“While a temporary three-week government opening has been announced, it is unclear whether the government will remain open beyond that time,” said Koniag President Shauna Hegna. Regardless of when people are paid, it will likely take weeks or months for families to get back on their feet.”
The donations were delivered to the Coast Guard Enlisted Association and helped to provide food, utility assistance and other vital services and supplies to those in need.
“The generosity shown by these organizations is so encouraging,” said Aimee Williams, director of Discover Kodiak and a Coast Guard veteran. “The effects the shutdown has had on our community cannot be understated. Our Coast Guard families have been struggling, and these donations have gone a long way to help them.”
The financial drive was initiated by Simmons, who recognized the toll the federal government shutdown was causing to Kodiak’s Coast Guard service members and their families. She brought the matter to the attention of Koniag leadership, who pledged $2,500 to the Coast Guard Enlisted Association and issued a challenge to village corporations on the island.