AK DOC Today

News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections

PCC donates to the Mat-Su Valley Project Homeless Connect

On January 27, 2016 starting at 10-3p.m. hours, families, veterans and other valley residents facing homelessness will have the opportunity to receive numerous services at the annual Mat-Su Valley Project Homeless Connect located at Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla. The prisoners at Palmer Correctional Center and a DOC staff member funded and donated items to this community outreach program.

The prisoners at the Medium Facility handcrafted crocheted items for the Mat-Su Valley Project Homeless Connect. The prisoners displayed compassion, caring, and kindness for others which are integral steps toward positive changes by donating these custom crafted items. Total donations: 250 hats, 250 scarves and 86 blankets.

The prisoners at the Minimum Facility handcrafted 20 crocheted toys for children. The Special Assistant II to the Commissioner, Mr. Phil Cole donated 250 hand warmers and polar-tech material, so the minimum prisoners could sew 19 fleece gloves for the Homeless Connect Project.

2015 Goose Creek Christmas Concert

The third annual 2015 Christmas concert at Goose Creek was part of a tradition that started back in 2012 at Hudson Correctional Facility in Hudson, Colorado. Chaplain Bernard Browder started the peer-driven choral ensemble, which was formed in July 2012. In December 2012, the group performed for peers and staff in a successful Christmas concert.

Over the next year, when the Colorado group was transitioned back to Alaska, the new Goose Creek Singers emerged. The majority of their members arrived in May 2013. They recruited some new members and in December 2013, they provided an outstanding performance in the first Christmas concert at Goose Creek.

With the help of staff and volunteers in 2014, the orchestra began, a guitar class was formed and a piano class started. The orchestra was directed by Mr. Michael More and Mrs. Coralyn More. The Mores, who are professional musicians, volunteered to help the members of the orchestra develop their sound and group dynamic. Ms. Liz Melson was contracted to teach beginning piano. The program was very successful and has continued to provide men an opportunity to learn a new skill. Goose Creek now has beginning, intermediate and advanced piano classes. The guitar class was self-directed and would eventually contribute to the entertainment of a future concert. Each year more men sign up to be a part of these talented groups and the 2015 Christmas concert proved they only get better with practice and opportunity to demonstrate their skills.

The orchestra, choir, piano and guitar ensembles performed some traditional and popular seasonal classics in the December 2015 Christmas concerts. They entertained their peers in the gym in two performances with over 300 men in attendance and a smaller group of invited family and friends in visitation. The participants were appreciative of the opportunities to perform and the guests were delighted with the concerts. Goose Creek looks forward to more successful performances this year.

Carved Baleen Donated to Veterans Museum

Stephen “Sonny” Foster is an Inupiaq Native from White Mountain, Alaska. He has two relatives who were in the ATG that he remembers -his great grandfather Alex Ashenfelter and son Roy Ashenfelter. The tribe they are from call themselves the “Fish River Tribe” more than likely because they lived along the Fish River or they named the river after the tribe, no one really knows but it is fitting for them and have carried the name on proudly.

As a child he was introduced to the Native Art of carving and scrimshaw from his elders. They carved to decorate their homes in the winter months. Everyday household items were carved as well as small trinkets that adorned their parkas and sleds. Carving of animals is believed to embody the spirit of the animal. Only in the recent past has Sonny begun to use Baleen as a medium to express his artistic talents. He has previously only used pencil and paper.

Currently he is using the art of scrimshaw as a way to create pieces to honor and memorialize the people of Alaska. The scrimshaw was traditionally done with a sharpened piece of bone from the front shin of either caribou or moose as it is the hardest bone in order to support the animals’ antlers and head. And, since the invention on nails, his people have used sharpened instruments to crate art. His technique of layering dots to create the image he desires is unique and is amazing in its precision.

Sonny says he “really enjoyed doing this piece of art for the ATG and gained happiness through knowing it will bring countless smiles to peoples’ faces when they see it.”