Building a Better Mat-Su - With YOUR Help!

Contributed by Michele Harmeling

It has been a busy summer here at United Way of Mat-Su. Our annual Dinner with the Seahawks and Play60 Challenge events ushered in the season. Special appearances by players from the Seattle Seahawks and Blitz the mascot were a highlight of each event. Thanks are due to everyone who volunteered to make the dinner a success, and to our partners at the Mat-Su Sea Hawkers Booster Club for their staunch support throughout the years. Play60 was a hit and we are grateful to all who volunteered their time to lead activity stations and encourage Mat-Su youth to get out and move for 60 minutes a day!

Many hands have made lighter work of some major projects and events lately, spanning from Knik-Goose Bay to Houston, from Palmer to Wasilla, and in between.

This year, we expanded our annual volunteerism into a full Week of Caring. Local businesses partnered with UWMS to help complete projects for nonprofit agencies in need of helping hands. During the week of May 20th, all across the Valley, Week of Caring saw…

-       MVFCU employees building, cleaning and painting at the Alaska Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in Houston
-       Another group of MVFCU employees preparing Camp Togowoods for a summer of fun with the Girl Scouts of Alaska
-       Yet a third MVFCU group at the Big Lake Library, improving the library grounds for the start of summer
-       Mat-Su Job Corps, MEA and groups from the Mat-Su Borough School District undertaking a big push to trim, rake, and plant more trees at the Myron J. Babb Arboretum in Palmer
-       Friends from First National Bank of Alaska lending a hand to Family Promise of Mat-Su
-       Wells Fargo employees dedicating a day of service to The Children’s Place in Wasilla

Your United Way of Mat-Su staff, our partners at Palmer Rotary, the City of Palmer and a visiting group of volunteers from Group Mission International spent over a week improving the Palmer Amoosement Park (located at 420 W Fern Ave., Palmer-behind the Palmer Moose Lodge). A major brush clearing and landscaping process has resulted in more open, visible space surrounding the playground, improving visibility and therefore safety. Volunteers and workers restored the picnic pavilion, removed damaged playground equipment and repainted the playground. The change is remarkable! This is a multi-phase project, with the next phase of improvements to include installation of security lighting and cameras, with the generous support of United Way of Mat-Su, Palmer Rotary and the Palmer Community Foundation.

If you’re looking for a place to take the kids, consider stopping by to check out the improvements and spend some time on the playground at the Amoosement Park! Our deepest gratitude to all who gave their time, and to the community for its enthusiastic support of this project.

Stuff the Bus 2019 Back-To-School Fair was a huge success! On August 13th, UWMS and its many volunteers and community partners came together to help over 1,100 Valley students look and feel their best for the first day of school. Backpacks and necessary school supplies were distributed to all MSBSD K-12 students with proof of enrollment. Each child was able to select a back-to-school outfit from Frontline Mission and Big Lake Community Clothing Closet, and haircuts were provided by the fabulous staff of Hello Darlin’ Salon in Wasilla! Members of the United Way of Mat-Su Board of Directors, Wells Fargo, First National Bank of Alaska, MVFCU, Thrive Mat-Su youth leaders, Wasilla Area Senior Center, MSBSD registrars, Wasilla Sunrise Rotary, and community individuals pitched in to make sure this event ran smoothly. We are grateful for the outpouring of support that makes this event possible annually!

Learn more by visiting our (new and improved!) website at or find us on Facebook: @unitedwaymatsu