ACC Native dance group performs cultural dances at NHCC banquet.

ACC Native dance group performs cultural dances at NHCC banquet.

A harvest of hope at ACC Counseling Center

The New Hope Counseling Center (NHCC) has been part of the Alaskan Christian College (ACC), founded in 2001, since 2003. NHCC Executive Director Debbie Hamilton discussed the idea behind the center at last week’s “Harvest of Hope” fundraising dinner.

“When we were called to start the college, we felt there would probably be a need for a counseling service on campus but we didn’t know to what magnitude or level when we started,” Hamilton said. “We quickly found that having counseling as part of the paradigm at ACC would greatly benefit the students that came here.”

While ACC students are primarily from Alaska Native villages, the campus also attracts Native American students from other states including Arizona and Oklahoma.

“We hope all ACC students will take advantage of the free counseling services on their campus. It’s very challenging for people who grow up in homes with domestic violence, are told to not talk and not feel and to keep everything within themselves,” Hamilton said. “So it’s pretty daunting and very courageous for a student to walk across the boardwalk to the counseling center and to open up their story to another person for the first time. But when they begin to break down those walls and share there’s a lot of relief and healing that takes place. It’s amazing what happens when truth is spoken into their life and a lot of the lies they have been believing can be dispelled and replaced with peace and hope in their hearts.”

In 2006, the NHCC opened their services to whole community.

“We wanted to extend the opportunity to all the communities of the Kenai Peninsula as well, so we brought on another counselor Peggy Barkman, and she has been serving with us since then, and in 2009 Ted Mole joined us and we just hired Joli Lewis,” Hamilton said. “So right now, NHCC has four licensed professional counselors and we offer individuals, couples and family counseling here on the Kenai Peninsula and we’ve been able to serve people as far south as Seldovia and west to Cooper Landing and even done some face time counseling in rural Alaska.”

Over 200 enthusiastic supporters turned out for the annual fundraising dinner and auction that featured entertainment by the ACC Native Dance Group and stories of hope from ACC alumni and students. Overcoming the stigma of the need for counseling remains a challenge to the individual.

“That’s why we make it a part of the ACC program, so that the majority of our students participate and that helps break the stigma,” Hamilton said. “For any individual who might be thinking of counseling, we would say we know it takes a lot of courage to pick a phone and say ‘I need some help’. But we have found when people cross over that bridge of courage and call to come in and have a conversation, they will find a safe place, a respectful place and a place where they can share their story for the first time. Our motto is ‘heal, restore, equip’.”

To learn more visit
newhopesoldotna.com, stop by the ACC campus off Poppy Lane on Royal Avenue near the Kenai Peninsula College or call 260-7423.

Amanda Andrew of Bethel sings & drums as ACC Native Dance group performs.

Amanda Andrew of Bethel sings & drums as ACC Native Dance group performs.

NHCC executive director Debbie Hamilton welcomes supporters to the Harvest of Hope.

NHCC executive director Debbie Hamilton welcomes supporters to the Harvest of Hope.

ACC Native dance group performs cultural dances at NHCC banquet.

ACC Native dance group performs cultural dances at NHCC banquet.

ACC Choir closes "Harvest of Hope" in song at AK Christian College.

ACC Choir closes “Harvest of Hope” in song at AK Christian College.

More in News

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight a 1st for Alaska oil and gas

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Most Read