Our Story: "Be of Brave Heart"
2013 - 2014
Photo by Rich McClear
Photo by Rich McClear
Sitka's Faith in Action Founded
Inspired by the need to help fill healthcare gaps for elders in our community, local nurses Jean and Auriella, plus many supportive community members, founded Sitka's Faith in Action, a volunteer,
Multiple agencies, faith groups, civic groups and health organizations participated in the start up and helped to secure the non-profit 501c3 designation.
The Pioneers' Home invited us to use the Manager's House for our offices, which helped to create an incredible and auspicious beginning!
2002 - 2003
A Grant Heralds the Beginning
Sitka's Faith in Action received a start-up grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with the purpose of breaking down artificial barriers and bringing together community members who wished to help each other.
A wide range of supporters came together and the first Board was formed. The first Program Director was hired and Volunteer Orientations started up. Soon after, Volunteer Visiting, Respite Support, Family Caregiver Support, and the Compassionate Care at End of Life Training all began.
Brave Heart - Our New Legal Name
After much discussion and perhaps a few tears as well, we took the next step and legally changed the organization's name to
Brave Heart Volunteers.
Yee gu.aa yáx x’wán, so aptly fit our mission and values, and the wisdom of the Tlingit Native elders was sanctified.
SFIA Gets an Honorific Name
During a meeting with Tlingit elders Jessie Johnny and Henry Moy, the Tlingit name, Yee gu.aa yáx x’wán, was formally bestowed upon Sitka's Faith in Action. The name means to have courage as you go forth, and “be of brave heart." It reflects the strong connection between care-receivers, caregivers, and the journey itself.
A state-wide meeting was held in Sitka to celebrate the four communities that received RWJF support for volunteer visiting and care. Community members from Sitka, Haines, Homer and Anchorage were represented.
Circle of Care Endowment Created
BHV celebrated its ten-year anniversary by formalizing, "The Circle of Care," Endowment. Our endowment is a legacy fund. It was created to ensure that our quality services and programs are sustained for the benefit of all community members, now and in the future.
Grief Support Group & Brave Heart Bowls
Regular grief support meetings and bereavement follow-up were added to our core services. A care-giving and hospice resource library began and was expanded through generous donations.
The extremely popular "Brave Heart Bowls" event began, inviting Sitka's many potters to create beautiful hand-made ceramic bowls for sale. Volunteers make homemade soup and dessert treats, and a huge community dinner is held to raise funds for the organization. Homemade bread, an art auction, and live music are also featured.
Grief Conference Held, Music Memories
Forty Southeast Alaskans attended BHV and the region's first grief support conference. Music Memories program launched at the Pioneer's Home, increasing quality of life though the uplifting and universal language of music.
Death By Chocolate
Community wide educational sessions and discussions were held to explore the topic of preparing a will, advanced directives, death, dying, grief and bereavement. A chocolate treat was offered to all.
Nationally known author and speaker Megan Divine was brought to Sitka for BHV sponsored seminars.
Back to the Roots
A very fruitful Staff and Board Retreat was held. A recommitting to Brave Heart's core Mission and Values allowed the board and staff to enjoy a renewed sense of purpose and shared vision for the future.
After a 7-year hiatus, the "Compassionate Care at End-of-Life Training" was once again held with an excellent community response.
We have learned that providing high-quality, compassionate services to all who can benefit, at no charge, brings myriad rewards. Proof of the value of our services is found in the fact that over 80% of those we serve become deeply involved with our organization - as financial donors, in-kind donors, volunteers, board members, and professional educators.
In Sitka, our population is aging. Our core services are unique, non-duplicated, and essential for our elders and family caregivers. The importance of working together for a common purpose and the well-being of our friends and neighbors is what drives us to help.
Brave Heart has accomplished a great deal in a relatively short period of time, but we still have much to do to assist our community's understanding about care-giving. Aging, illness, and death do not have to necessarily be frightening or traumatic. There are powerful opportunities to create circumstances at end-of-life that maintain a person’s dignity, honor the hospice philosophies, and allow for a more natural and sacred experience.
We continue to raise community awareness through events, educational offerings, and pertinent training. Our local community members, businesses, and charitable organizations support us through generous donations. With the kindness of many hundreds of donors and volunteers, we can continue to provide our core services and programs that have served many hundreds of community members.