A new facility is now underway for HOPE Community Resources on K-Beach Rd. “HOPE has been around for over forty years originally starting in Anchorage formerly known as HOPE Cottages then in 2004 a group of parents here on the Kenai asked our executive director to come down and meet with them which resulted in a small office offering families a choice of services,” explained Holly Scott director of community support in Kenai. A year later a former church on K-Beach Rd. was purchased and has been providing community recreation activities.
At an official ground breaking on a rainy Tuesday, September 9th afternoon, hundreds of community members and elected officials turned out to celebrate the foundation pouring of a new multipurpose facility. Stephen Lesko has been the executive director of HOPE for a long time and commented on the changes Alaska has seen in a relatively short period of time, “The differences are amazing like night and day. In the sixties when HOPE was becoming incorporated at the first ground breaking there was a sign that read ‘Home of Alaska’s forgotten children.’ What that meant back in the sixties was that there was no place in Alaska for children and families of children that experience disabilities and in that era particularly families were told they needed to institutionalize their children and break up their family, sending many children out of state, but today that’s a lie and HOPE has been a leader in saying we need to bring our kids back home and today we break ground at a time when Alaska is one of the few states who have closed all their institutions both private and public and we are proud of that,” Lesko told the cheering crowd that gathered for the celebration. “Now people with disabilities and their families are served in communities’ not in warehouses or institutions but in homes or apartments of their own choosing. The celebration today is for a new community center for people with disabilities and people without disabilities can come together and learn art, cooking skills, pottery, crafts or martial arts or whatever they are interested in to develop their talents so rather than the forgotten it’s a celebration of their talents, abilities and value of all Alaska’s citizens,” he said.
While most of the funding for the facility has been secured through legislative grants and foundation funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust a local matching campaign is underway for another $64,000. For more information call Holly Scott at 420-3601, or check out www.hopealaska.org.