Help Knock Out Homelessness

Contributed by Laurie Kari

Have you heard that in the school year 2015 the Mat-Su Borough identified 864 students as homeless?

Do you know all the projects and efforts currently at work to prevent homelessness and to serve people without housing in the Mat-Su Valley? (Have you heard the word “BHAP” and wonder what that is?)

Are you carrying an innovative idea for emergency housing in the Valley that you’d like to discuss over coffee all night long?

Do you ever wonder how homeless people sleep at night? 

Have you ever wanted to sleep overnight at the Alaska State Fairgrounds?

If any of these strike a chord with you, please come to Cardboard City 2016 on July 15th. You will gather pledges of $50 to attend, set up your cardboard dwelling, enter the box-decorating contest, eat at a soup and breadline, and join in this Homelessness Outreach and Awareness fundraiser with many other Valley folks who are concerned and want to provide for homeless services in a tangible way. This is a 15- hour event, spending the night in your own box dwelling, waking up to coffee, cocoa and granola bars.

This is an important family-friendly event in its ninth year. Have you attended in the past? You know you want to come again. Bring more friends this time and have even more fun! All funds raised from this 9th Annual Cardboard City will be used for the homeless guests’ services at Family Promise Mat-Su.

This community shelter program for families with children under the age of 18 is 11 years old this year! This year with budget cuts for our program and with escalating unemployment in the oil fields, etc., Family Promise expects to serve many more guest families.

Our program desperately needs this fundraiser to raise great funds to continue providing our guests with Day Center services; Laundry, computers, shelter for any family pets, case management, transportation and office operations and many other shelter costs.

Family Promise Mat-Su has served over 30,000 shelter bed nights since opening in 2005. Area churches donate overnight shelter, meals and hospitality for families while Family Promise case managers work with families at our Day Center/Offices to help them regain their self-sufficiency and housing. 

Our families enter the program destitute, depressed and desperate to be able to care for their children! Disastrous loss of their home, family dissolution, loss of employment, daycare issues, inability to find affordable housing, medical disaster… These are the leading causes of family homelessness. 

Within 60-90 days in the Family Promise program, lives are changed, families are able to save 80% of their income, get help with life-skills and job searches and find self-sustainable rentals. The community helps with household items for the new home, families receive a house-warming quilt from the Valley Quilters. The best moment is watching the family go up their sidewalk and enter the door of their new home. Such joy!

You may not see homeless camps or families panhandling, as this is Alaska and there are vast areas to camp, and many parents are ashamed come forward to admit their need. Also, in true Alaskan fashion, many community members will bring a homeless family into their home or rental (double up) for a “temporary stay”. Our calls from families are often prefaced with “My family was staying at a friend’s place and we have to move out.” Or, “We have four kids and two dogs and are unable to camp anymore.” 

At Cardboard City, you will hear some testimonials from these families. Also, Governor Bill Walker and First Lady Donna hope to join us as well, sleeping in boxes and raising more awareness!

Please plan to join us on July 15th at the State Fairgrounds, Green Gate at 5pm to receive cardboard, decorating supplies, camaraderie, live music, soup and bread, as well as some information about homelessness and how you might help and bless some of our families on their way to housing.

Register and donate on our website (, or at our office (561 W. Nelson Ave., Wasilla-right across from Wonderland Park) or call in to register at 357-6160 M-F, 9-5. Let us know if you can volunteer to help with Cardboard City as we prepare! We hope to hear from you soon. The coffee is always on here, so come visit us! We can always use more friends!

We would like to thank all of our supporters over the years, and 2016 sponsors will be posted at the event, on our website and social media, and also as we speak with the media about Cardboard City. Please help support this event and our Family Promise Mat-Su program.

Sincerely and gratefully,
The Staff, Board and 400+ volunteers of Family Promise Mat-Su

P.O. Box 870587 Wasilla, AK 99787
(907) 357-6160, (907) 357-61110 (fax)

We can accept credit cards at our office and at the event, as well as on our website.