WASILLA — The Wasilla City Council approved COVID-19 relief funding for Wasilla Area Seniors Center Inc. during the most recent regular meeting Monday, Nov. 22.

The Wasilla Council drew from remaining funds from the CARES Act to award WASI a COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grant worth over $200,000 to support the organization’s Meals on Wheels nutrition program.

The city of Wasilla will be required to return any excess CARES funds that remain by the close date, Dec. 31.

Securing an additional van for the Meals on Wheels program is one of the top priorities at WASI and one of the main motivations for seeking out grant money.

Several WASI residents, staff, and volunteers attended the Monday meeting to advocate for the funding.

WASI Assistant Executive Director Marlene Munsell was one of several community members who spoke at the podium during the public comment portion.

Numerous political figures such as Sen. David Wilson and Rep. Cathy Tilton beseeched the Council to approve the motion to allocate CARES funding to WASI and other community groups and businesses.

“After hearing about the amount of money the city has left, I’m concerned that we should use that funding to help not only the Wasilla Senior Center [WASI], transportation is one of the greatest barriers to accessing services in the Mat-Su Valley… I would love to see our city make sure that we do another tier of funding for those individuals who do not qualify within the first few rounds. I just want to make sure that we can do everything to help our neighbors,” Wilson said.

During a follow-up interview, Munsell said they appreciated the Council’s decision to approve the funding and having so much backing from the public. She said the grant came at a time when they needed it most.

“It’s like a blessing,” Munsell said. “I was in awe of the support we received… having senators speak on our behalf. I was so amazed. They rallied behind us,” Munsell said. “We are totally excited. It was something we really needed. It’s going to help us meet a gap that we have.”

WASI intends to acquire a new van as soon as possible, according to Munsell. She said their Meals on Wheels program continues to grow, and with that growth comes the need to expand their resources to keep up. She said it’s a vital program that serves hundreds of meals to seniors on a daily basis, and it’s not all about the food.

“It’s very important because you’re serving two things… The other part of it is, that driver, they check on that senior. They check to make sure they’re okay,” Munsell said.

For more information about the Wasilla City Council, visit cityofwasilla.com.

To learn more about Wasilla Area Seniors, visit wasillaseniors.com.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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