Set Free Alaska

Set Free Alaska has recently received more than $1 million in grants. A portion of that money will be used to renovate this building.

PALMER— The faith based, alcohol and drug treatment organization, Set Free Alaska recently received $1.065 million dollars in grants from three different organizations, fostering further growth and a continuum of care for an ever growing demand.

“Unfortunately, the need for our services continues to grow,” interim executive director of Set Free Alaska Joy Stein said in a recent press release. “The need for space is so great that we have even converted a closet under the stairs into an office.”

SFA uses a “mind, spirit and body approach” to provide intensive inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment for adults and teens. In addition to outpatient treatment services, Set Free Alaska also provides behavioral health programs for children ages 5-17, and a residential treatment center for women, including pregnant women and women with children.

“Over the years, our programs have grown exponentially to meet the demand,” Stein continued in the press release. “Partners like the Murdock Trust make this new building possible and, ultimately, will reduce the waitlist for clients eager to get help.”

The Alaska Mental Health Trust gave $215,000, the Rasmuson Foundation gave $500,000, and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust gave $350,000, according to Sherry Hill, Development Director for SFA. With their 10-year anniversary approaching in 2019, Hill reveled how far they’ve come.

“We are growing so quick. It’s just unbelievable,” Hill said.

She recalled starting with less than 10 clients. Now, there isn’t enough room to fit the rising demand. In 2017, SFA serviced over 650 clients, a 65 percent increase from 2016, according to the press release. SFA is maxed out in their current space and regularly sees long waitlists.

“We are out of space here,” Hill said.

She said SFA was in the middle of “phase two” and on its way to becoming an “all in one” campus. The outpatient, children’s behavioral health services and administrative office are located off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, across from the MTA Sports Center. SFA recently opened a women’s residential treatment center, Valley Oaks, off Bogard Road. Construction is underway and the main office is expected to move over to the Bogard lot by October, bringing everything in one place.

“We will gain all kinds of efficiencies,” Hill said.

According to the press release, SFA will be able to double their client base once the campus is ready, reaching about 1,000 outpatient clients annually.

“Alaska, like many states, is facing an epidemic of substance abuse and addiction that can have a ripple effect of negative consequences across communities, including depression, violence and broken families,” Steve Moore, the executive director of the Murdock Trust stated in the press release. “This new facility will provide much needed access to essential mental health and treatment services to help serve those in need, and their families.”

Hill noted that SFA is still seeking funding as they continue to grow with the Mat-Su Valley and its rising rates of substance abuse and the trauma attached. She said that there was no official “phase three” but they “have a dream.”

“We always have a dream,” Hill said.

Contact Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at Jacob.mann@frontiersman.com.

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