U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) spoke on the Senate floor recently in recognition of Rozann Kimpton of Wasilla, a coordinator with the Volunteers of America Grandfamilies and the 2017 recipient of the Alaska Angels in Adoption Award. Kimpton was recognized as part of Senator Sullivan’s series, “Alaskan of the Week”.
The following is the statement submitted to the Congressional Record:
Tribute to Rozann Kimpton
“Mr. President, every week, I have been coming to the floor to talk about my state and what I think makes it the greatest state in the country and in the world. We like to celebrate and recognize somebody in Alaska who is making a difference for their community, for the state and for the country, and we like to call these extraordinary Alaskan individuals our Alaskan of the Week.
Like many of us here in the Senate, I spent a lot of time recently in August traveling throughout my home state. Wherever I went, I met strong, generous, versatile Alaskans, many of whom survive in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, but still have time for their communities and their families and their neighbors. But like in many places around the country, I also saw the scourge of addiction that is tearing apart communities and tearing apart families.
We have all heard how addiction is often passed down through generations. There are many in Alaska and many throughout the country who are determined to break this intergenerational cycle of addiction and many who are succeeding. We don't always hear about them, but there are many. So this afternoon, I wish to introduce my colleagues to 81 year old Rozann Kimpton, our Alaskan of the Week, who is doing that and a lot more.
Rozann and her husband moved to Alaska from Washington State in 1958, and they immediately settled in. They ran businesses together, including a small retail store, and then they got into construction and contracting. They raised two children. They were a team. About 10 years ago, they moved to a large plot of land in Wasilla, AK - over 50 acres - to spend time in retirement, and they made plans: gardening and traveling around the world. But it didn't take long for Rozann to recognize that something was wrong - very wrong - in her family, particularly with what was happening to two of her great grandchildren, Luke and Amanda. They were living in a situation that was harmful to them and they needed help.
At this point, Rozann's husband was also suffering from his own illness - cancer - but the two of them took Luke and Amanda in and adopted them. “It was the only way to make sure they were safe,'' Rozann said. “And when a kid needs to be taken care of, and when a mommy and daddy can't, you do it,” she said. “I couldn't live with myself knowing that they were in danger and I did nothing.” This is Rozann talking about her two great grandkids.
That was 10 years ago. Rozann, now a widow, lives with Amanda and Luke on that big plot of land in Wasilla. Amanda is a senior in high school and Luke is an eighth grader. They are great kids. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to visit with them in my office.
Amanda loves geometry. She plays a violin with the Wasilla Youth Orchestra and drums and dances with the Intertribal Drum Group in Anchorage. Luke's big dream is to join the Navy, which I think is great.
The three of them volunteer in their community, helping foster kids. Amanda makes blankets for the foster kids. Every Sunday, they drive over 100 miles to attend Emanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage, which is like a second home to all of them.
In addition to all of this, Rozann is the area volunteer coordinator for Volunteers of America Grandfamilies, a grandparents support group. Once a month, she has a picnic for her fellow grandparents and other parents who have adopted kids. The kids play games and eat hamburgers and hot dogs, and adults sit around the campfire, share stories and encourage one another in all the work they are doing. She is in constant contact with about 25 families, and whenever she spots someone she thinks might need help with their kids, their grandkids or their great grandkids, she gives them her card.
“I am not a shy person,” she said. “I will talk to anyone who looks like they are struggling, and I am particularly good at spotting grandparents who are raising kids - grandparents who are raising kids throughout our great nation.”
As the opioid crisis is hitting Alaska, just like it is hitting so many other states, she is seeing more and more grandparents stepping in. “It is a plague,'” she said. “But the most important thing is to help the children as early as possible, and to do what we can to make sure they don't carry on that plague.''
Rozann Kimpton was here right in Washington, DC. As I mentioned, I had a great meeting with her. She came here to attend a banquet where her efforts are being recognized. She is the 2017 recipient of the Alaska Angels in Adoption Award and was recognized by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
Rozann, thank you for your warmth and for all your hard work for Alaska. Congratulations on your award, and congratulations on being our Alaskan of the Week.”