CVRF Helps Elders and Families Weather the High Cost of Living in Rural Alaska
Mekoryuk elder Daniel T. Olrun, Sr.
ANCHORAGE—Each winter, Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF) supports elders and provides energy assistance to families in its twenty member communities through the longstanding Elder and Heating Oil Programs. This year, CVRF delivered thirty-five gallons of heating oil to 2,204 households during the twelfth round of the annual Heating Oil Program. Since 2008, CVRF has provided roughly $2.8 million in heating oil assistance through this program.
Heating oil is one of the largest household costs for families living in Western Alaska where lower cost alternatives, like natural gas, are not available. In the lower Yukon Kuskokwim region, families spend an average of 26 percent of their income on heat and electricity and in the latest Alaska Fuel Price Report, Western Alaska reported the highest average heating fuel retail price in the state. This year, the number of households participating in the Heating Oil Program increased slightly from 2018, and CVRF estimates that approximately 95% of households in its member communities enroll in this program.
CVRF’s Elder Program provides additional benefits to elders that also help counterbalance the high cost of living in their communities. Through the 2018 Elder Program, completed early this year, 728 elders each received forty-six gallons of heating oil and seventy pounds of premium frozen meats. Since 2009, CVRF has provided $1.9 million in heating oil, food, and other aid to elders in its communities.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with the residents in our communities, especially during the Elder Program and the Heating Oil Program,” said Tiffany Daniel, CVRF’s Community Service Representative in Kwigillingok. “We get to share good laughs, hear many thank yous, and see the priceless looks on our elders’ faces when we deliver meat packages. These programs help with the high cost of living in the rural areas. It gives me a very good feeling to be able to reach out to our residents and distribute heating fuel to our elders and each household in our community.”
Through these two programs, CVRF provided more than 110,000 gallons in heating oil benefits to CVRF residents this past winter.
“I am really happy that CVRF provides us heating oil and food,” said Alexandra Larson, an elder from Napaskiak. “It comes right when I need it. Nowadays stove oil is expensive, and the Elder Program really helps. I appreciate what CVRF is doing.”
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The Marx Bros. Café
Jack Amon and Richard “Van” Hale opened the doors of the Marx Bros. Café on October 18, 1979; however, the two had already been partners in cuisine for some time, having created the Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society and Volleyball Team Which Now Meets on Sunday, a weekly evening of food and wine. It was actually the end of the weekly event that spurred the name of the restaurant: hours after its final service, Amon and Hale were hauling equipment and furnishings out of their old location and to their now-iconic building on Third Street, all while managing arguments about equipment ownership, a visit from the police, and quite a bit of wine. “If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘A Night at the Opera” starring the Marx Brothers, that’s what it was like,” Hale explains.