The Boys & Girls Club in Emmonak, Alaska, is one of the most remote in the United States. It located in a Yup'ik village with 796 residents located at the mouth of the Yukon River, which flows into the Bering Sea in Alaska. Commercial fishing for salmon and subsistence activities, including hunting and trapping, drive the local economy.
After several youth suicides in the mid-1990's the Emmonak Elders Group was established in 1997 to respond to increasing social problems in the village. Although they had always been an integral part of the cultural and social fabric of Emmonak, they began to exert greater influence in community decisions to pass down traditional knowledge and wisdom to try to address the suicides as well as juvenile delinquency.
Our Club in Emmonak, Alaska, is located in a remote fishing village near the Yukon River.
Emmonak Elders have taken several paths to work on youth challenges in the village, including hearing delinquency cases that had been referred by the Juvenile Justice Office in the past, and starting a youth group that became the Emmonak Boys & Girls Club in 2002.
The Club has worked to help their children and youth grow up in a positive place. In the face of delinquency, which peaked in 2006, economic struggles from the current recession, a flood that finally closed the old Club space for good, and devastating salmon harvests in 2012, the community has continued to persevere. Delinquency charges dropped to a total of 10 in 2011.
Linda Wiltse is BGCA's vice president of Program & Youth Development Services.
Every community has its struggles, but the people of Emmonak, in partnership with their Boys & Girls Club, keep moving forward and working toward a brighter future for their youth.