Warren Russell, chair of the Board of Directors for United Way of Southeast Alaska speaks at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Warren Russell, chair of the Board of Directors for United Way of Southeast Alaska speaks at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

United Way of Southeast Alaska wants you to volunteer

Volunteers and donations are the organization’s backbone

Two representatives from United Way of Southeast Alaska shared the stage Thursday at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon.

Warren Russell, chair of the Board of Directors for the local United Way and vice president at GCI, presented to the Chamber along with president and CEO Wayne Stevens.

Together they gave the crowd a rundown of how United Way partners with local social service organizations around Juneau.

United Way is an international organization whose locally affiliates operate mostly independently to address the needs of that community.

Here in Juneau one of the priorities the organization has focused on is food insecurity, or when an individual is uncertain if they or their family will have enough to eat.

Wayne Stevens, right, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Alaska at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the Moose Family Lodge on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Wayne Stevens, right, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Alaska at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the Moose Family Lodge on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

To combat food insecurity locally, the United Way has partnered with Juneau Community Foundation, Alaska Native Sisterhood and Alaska Native Brotherhood to provide free or reduced breakfast and lunch for the Juneau School District.

Since the beginning of this school year until Oct. 15, the average participation rate district wide was 1,189 students receiving free breakfast every day, and 214 receiving reduced cost breakfast, Stevens said.

According to the Juneau School District website total enrollment for the district is approximately 4,648.

Stevens told the crowd he was deeply troubled by the amount of people living with food insecurity in the Juneau area.

“It bothers me,” he said. “But we’re going to figure it out.”

The United Way is not a direct service organization, Stevens said, but works mainly in bringing various organization with common cause together and helps with fundraising efforts.

One of the partner agencies United Way works with locally is the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. With United Way’s help, the food bank was able to collect nearly 500,000 pounds of donated food, most of which came from the local supermarkets like Safeway, Costco and IGA Group, Stevens said.

Chris Schapp, newly minted manager of the SEAFB, said that there are 32 member agencies which come throughout the week to collect food for their clients in need. On Saturdays when the food bank is open to the public, Schapp says that he sees about 60 to 70 people come and collect food.

The main message that Stevens and Russel wanted to convey to the audience was that United Way relies on volunteers and donations.

“We’re not a direct service provider. We do the connecting, bringing organizations together, the campaign part of the puzzle,” Stevens said. “Part of the challenge is convincing people that philanthropy is just the art of giving. You can be a philanthropist at a dollar a day, you don’t need to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.”

Check out the Empire’s live coverage of the event.


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Brenda Josephson, a Haines resident, testifies in favor of a bill setting statewide standards for municipal property assessors during a state Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Statewide standards for municipal property assessments sought in bill by Juneau lawmaker

Some residents say legislation doesn’t go far enough, want limits on annual valuation increases.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 26, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of March 2

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks Thursday, April 27, 2023, at a news conference in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House considers constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

The Alaska House of Representatives will vote as soon as Friday morning… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alexei Painter, director of Alaska’s Legislative Finance Division, presents an update of the state’s budget situation for the coming year to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Analysis: Balanced state budget next year can include a $1,535 PFD and $680 BSA increase

However, a “statutory” $3,688 PFD would result in a deficit of more than $1.2 billion, report says.

The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development at its meeting Wednesday in Juneau. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s education board sends a $500M wish list for construction and maintenance to lawmakers

The state’s Board of Education and Early Development approved a priority list… Continue reading

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Most Read