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NEWS | April 24, 2024

Alaska State Defense Force volunteerism shines at Mat-Su Arctic Winter Games

By By Seth LaCount Alaska National Guard

Members of the Alaska State Defense Force assisted their local Mat-Su area community by volunteering at the Arctic Winter Games March 10-16, 2024.
 
The AWG bring together athletes of all ages to participate in a wide range of winter sports, including traditional Arctic sports like snowshoeing, and Dene games, alongside more conventional events like skiing and ice hockey with a rich heritage of culture and sportsmanship.

Brig. Gen. (AK) Simon Brown, the commander of the ASDF began the planning process with event organizers about a year ago. After the plan was in place, ASDF members from across the state traveled in to assist in the AWG.

The ASDF estimates it contributed more than 1000 volunteer hours to the planning, preparation, and execution of its contribution to AWG this year.

ASDF members come from a variety of employment backgrounds, and many of them have served in uniform. They bring a host of skillsets from their military and civilian experiences that make them effective volunteers for events like the AWG.

The ASDF’s newest member, Spc. (AK) Matilda Evans served in the Alaska Army National Guard as a personnel clerk from 1987 to 1992 and was sworn into the organization during the AWG. Evans is a grandmother, tribal council leader and veteran who traveled from her home village of Quinhagak to volunteer her time.
“I was raised by grandmother to help other people, particularly those in need,” Evans said. “I joined the ASDF to continue to stay active in the community. It gives me something to do and to fulfill my purpose to serve.”

During the AWG, volunteers like Evans played a key role in manning traffic control points, taking on various crossing guard duties, and controlling parking at all major venues during the games, ensuring ease of access and safety for all visitors enjoying the ceremonies and festivities.

ASDF members came up with a standardized process of communication for directing vehicles with their knowledge and expertise of radios and traffic routes.
Additionally, ASDF members staffed the event’s emergency operations center in Wasilla and worked in a dispatch capacity for emergency medical workers and law enforcement agencies. They fielded phone calls and relayed information to pertinent agencies and documented athletic injuries as they occurred.

Fairbanks resident and personnel Officer in Charge for the 2nd Scouts Battalion of the ASDF, 1st Lt. (AK) Brenda Carr, came into town with five other members of her unit and assisted in the Games as both a crossing guard and volunteer at the emergency operations center.

“This was a great learning experience in working with our local communities to see how events are monitored and executed properly,” said Carr. “We work in an emergency management capacity often in the defense force, so working a planned event like this, helps us refine processes for our unplanned events like natural disasters and floods and helps us get to know our partner agencies.”

According to arcticwintegames.org, the success of the annual event involves a combination of high-level athletic competition, cultural exchange, and positive social interaction.
 
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