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Episode 20: ‘Forget me not’ movement puts a face on the homeless

By KTVA Alaska 6:15 PM September 13, 2015

It’s hard to believe this is our 20th episode of Frontiers. As we’ve always said, since the very first program, Frontiers is about bringing you the faces and places of Alaska, but also the voices.

We had the privilege of spending time with Samuel Johns, an Alaska Native rap artist, who has used his music to bring attention to domestic violence, suicide prevention and, most recently, to the homeless of Anchorage.

When Samuel started the “Forget me not” Facebook page in June, it began as a simple outreach effort. He would strike up conversations with people living on the street, ask permission to post their photos on Facebook, along with messages for their families. Suddenly, families began posting photos asking for help in tracking down relatives, and the Facebook page began to take on a life of its own, with discussions about how to help the homeless. Some even offered to help or donate items requested, like a traditional Native drum for Bean’s Café. Today, there are almost 9,000 members.

Samuel says it’s disturbing to him that most of Anchorage’s homeless are Alaska Native. He says he believes inter-generational trauma is the root cause — but hopes his “Forget me not” page will get people asking questions about why so many Alaska Natives are so disproportionately represented on the streets.

Also in this week’s program, we hear from Lisa Sauder, director of Bean’s Café — which serves up meals in downtown Anchorage for the homeless. Sauder also talks about Children’s Lunchbox, another service of Bean’s.

The number of meals served to children outstrips those served to adults, a surprising and somewhat alarming trend. We look at why feeding hungry kids is key to breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Another guest this week: Mariya Lovischuk, director of the Glory Hole in downtown Juneau, which provides both food and shelter for the homeless. We get a look at the Glory Hole’s rooftop garden, which are tended by patrons of the organization.

Finally, in this week’s show KTVA’s Emily Carlson takes you to Kotzebue for a look at the Siglauq program, where hunters can donate fish and game to be processed and served at the Maniilaq Association’s nursing home. It’s the first traditional food processing facility in the state, a wonderful way to share the bounty of the land with elders who crave their subsistence foods.

Special thanks to: Jacob Curtis for gathering some thought-provoking footage for our Samuel Johns profile, John Thain for his virtuoso editing and Rik Pruett of KATH-TV in Juneau for giving us a look at the Glory Hole’s rooftop garden.  

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