Valuing people and relationships is a cornerstone to Southcentral Foundation’s success. As a community-minded organization, SCF is proud to serve more than 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people in Southcentral Alaska, and partners with other Anchorage nonprofits to serve some of the city’s most vulnerable populations.
Homelessness touches nearly every urban area in the United States — including Anchorage. Alaska’s harsh winter climate contributes to the challenges faced by those without adequate housing and other services.
To improve services for those experiencing homelessness, SCF works closely with Catholic Social Services to provide basic medical services for the guests at the Brother Francis Shelter. The shelter, run by Catholic Social Services, is located in downtown Anchorage, and serves the homeless with dignity, care, and compassion, with an emphasis on guiding guests toward self-sufficiency.
Last spring, the Brother Francis Shelter opened its newly renovated medical clinic inside the downtown shelter. The expanded Caring Clinic is staffed by SCF providers and allows guests at the shelter to receive basic medical care and referrals to other health care resources. The clinic also has an on-site laboratory. Brother Francis Shelter guests have access to on-site health care five days a week. The clinic handles acute illnesses, wound care, infections, laceration repair, injuries, cough, colds, flu, sore throats, and more.
“For many of the people we serve, medical problems were what brought them to homelessness,” says Catholic Social Services Executive Director Lisa Aquino. “This partnership has made access to quality health services a possibility for our guests at Brother Francis Shelter that is improving lives every day. Health and housing go hand-in-hand in helping individuals reach long-term stability.”
Since the clinic renovations, SCF providers have fielded more than 1,300 visits. The Caring Clinic aims to reduce emergency room visits and EMS calls to the shelter. SCF also collaborated with Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage to provide same-day delivery of medication — eliminating the need for transportation to and from local pharmacies.
In a similar partnership, Southcentral Foundation collaborates with Covenant House Alaska to provide medical and behavioral health services for homeless youth. Since opening its doors in 1988, Covenant House Alaska has served thousands of homeless, at-risk, and trafficked youth. SCF manages, operates, and staffs the medical clinic at Covenant House, and provides behavioral health services. A crisis clinician and behavioral health case manager support and help connect youth to outpatient services. The clinic also provides lab services and same-day delivery of medications.
“We have a deep, transformational partnership with Southcentral Foundation,” said Alison Kear, executive director of Covenant House Alaska. “It means that youth dealing with trauma don’t have to return to the dangerous streets to get medical care or counseling for mental health issues. Those underlying issues that brought youth to us in the first place can be addressed without them having to leave our building.”
The SCF employees also coordinate cultural activities, including Native dancing, berry picking, and beading. Through culturally relevant, engaging activities, program employees develop meaningful relationships with at-risk youth. SCF and Covenant House have seen positive outcomes in the youth who participate in cultural activities and have received follow-up services.
SCF recognizes that community wellness requires a collaborative effort with organizations like Brother Francis Shelter and Covenant House Alaska. Without meaningful relationships such as these, critical needs in the community might remain unmet.