Supporting New Polynesian Voices

Name of Nonprofit organization: Polynesian Community Center

Project Name: Empowering Anchorage’s Polynesian community

Your Name: Aleesha Towns-Bain

Project Description: Start up support for new advocacy group supporting the Polynesian community in Anchorage. $500-1,000 requested. NOTE: This group’s 501c3 status is pending. Grant would be dependent on securing status.

The Big Why:

In response to two violent police incidents earlier this summer (KTVA’s coverage here), a group of young Polynesian professionals organized the Polynesian Community Center.

Their mission is to: “empower the Polynesian community throughout the state of Alaska by providing a resource center in which one can gain effective language and communication skills, employment tools, health awareness, and counseling services.  It is PCC’s objective to help build self sufficient and productive citizens of Alaska.  PCC also desires to preserve and perpetuate ancient Polynesian cultural values of love, respect, and unity by bringing these same principles to the forefront of our collective consciousness as a modern Alaskan community.”

This group has made a big impact in a few short months, starting with a well-attended community rally and subsequent successful discussions between the Anchorage Police Department and the Polynesian Community. Since then, PCC hosted a “Know Your Rights” seminar for community members in Mountain View (in partnership with the ACLU), arranged for a meeting on voting rights and responsibilities, organized a Get Out The Vote effort, and participated in the recent Mountain View Community summit. Their CEO, Miriama Aumavae (pictured below), received a scholarship to attend represent Alaska at a Pacific Islander conference in Chicago where she learned additional tools for organizing and community justice. PCC is now celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a big issue for Pacific Island women who are less likely to have an early diagnosis (See recent Seattle Times article on the topic.) On Oct. 21, PCC is hosting a film, “Love, Faith, & Hope: Women of the Pacific Fight Breast Cancer” at UAA in conjunction with the YWCA and the UAA Multicultural Center. You can see all their activity for yourself here on their rather active Facebook page.

This group has been proactive in seeking citywide collaborations and new solutions to the issues that are facing their community. They’ve done all this with virtually no funding beyond very small donations received mostly from its honorary board of well-known Polynesian community members.  A small operating grant would allow them to build upon this great work and further establish their nonprofit organization.