Monday, June 17, 2013
Thousands of AFN-Goers Arrive in Anchorage
For some, attending the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention is a way of life. For Vernita Vestal, it’s one she’s grown to love.
For thousands of people across the state, attending the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention is a way of life.
For Vernita Vestal, it’s one she’s grown to love.
"When you like what you're doing, you go all out for it and that's what I do here,” Vestal said. “I blossom like a flower."
She’s been volunteering at the AFN information booth since 1985 and is one of the first people to greet attendees when they step onto the convention floor.
After more than 25 years, she still hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for the largest native gathering in the country.
"John Baker will be speaking. Go support him!” Vestal said, weaving through the crowd and shooing people into the main hall for the convention’s keynote address.
Like the 2011 Iditarod champion, she’s learned first hand about the power of community.
“His mom is from my home village,” Vestal said. “A very special person.”
This week, the community is made up of people from every corner of Alaska, and Vestal herself has traveled from her winter home in Arizona to attend the convention.
It’s the event’s motto, and a lesson she can attest to: with unity, comes strength.