From Spanish flu to the ’64 quake, AK Child & Family celebrates 125 years

Well over a century ago, United Methodist church members started the Jesse Lee Home in Unalaska for children who had been orphaned by disease or needed care while their parents recovered from illness. When the Spanish influenza pandemic wiped out villages along coastal Alaska, the home moved to Seward, and after the 1964 earthquake, it moved again to Anchorage.

A hundred and twenty-five years later, Alaska Child and Family, the contemporary to the Jesse Lee facility is celebrating their anniversary this week. Denis McCarville is President and CEO of the organization. He says the home still has residential facilities but the goal is to reunite children with their families. He says the organization started to transition to its current form when it moved to Anchorage:

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Denis McCarville is the President and CEO of Alaska Child and Family. A multi denominational worship service happens tomorrow (Saturday) at 4 pm at the 1st United Methodist Church followed by a silent auction and celebration at the ConocoPhillips building in downtown Anchorage.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for Alaska Public Media. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for nearly 30 years. Radio brought her to Alaska, where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting before accepting a reporting/host position with APRN in 2003. APRN merged with Alaska Public Media a year later. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.