Funded in part by a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, Giving Voice is a two-year pilot project of the Hospice of Haines that brings high school students together with hospice clients on a path to discover how Alaska has influenced the choices, decisions, and lives of hospice clients, and incorporates the students’ findings into their curriculum.
According to Project Director, Kip Kermoian, "When a door opens, and a student crosses the threshold of one of our often invisible, unseen hospice clients, they bring with them an indescribable light that fills a client with a joy and affirmation that can manifest itself physically and emotionally, lasting days following a visit and interview."
He goes on to explain: “Such was the case with our first student / elder meeting, and interview. Diving below the surface, Mori expressed his amazement at the life experiences that Marge had lived – from pilot to working for the Army Security Agency in Washington, D.C during WWll, being instrumental in the inception of the Alaska Marine Highway, and being the last survivor of the group that purchased Fort Seward in Haines - his fascination drew him back for a second interview and feeling as though he had made a good friend.”
Giving Voice builds a conversation between two seemingly disparate demographics – students and elders – and creates a community of relationships. Although it’s hard to provide numbers that demonstrate the impact of this type of project, there’s no doubt that connections are being made and celebrated in Haines. Before she passed away, Marge “expressed her admiration for Mori and his endeavor, and appreciation for his interest in her story.”
The Forum believes that many of the challenges that threaten the health of our communities are rooted in a lack of connection, communication, and compassion. Kip agrees. “It’s as though you've reached out to us and tailored your mission to reflect what the Giving Voice projects attempts to achieve.”