Stories of Hope and Recovery

The Nome hospital at dusk, viewed from the front, with light streaming through its windows.

“After I came out of my alcoholic coma, when I got home, my family did not know I still had a half-gallon in my apartment… I was feeling sorry for myself, so I took the half-gallon and went to the kitchen to mix myself a drink, and I just said, ‘Lord, what am I doing?’ And to tell you the truth, I don’t remember dumping the drink and dumping the whole half-gallon into the sink. When I got to my senses, I was praying, and when I looked down, the half-gallon was in the trash. And from then on, I never drank. When things get very, very hard… I think of praying, and that’s a better way. I’ve been sober for 15 years. Temptation still does come around, but let me tell you: it’s a different life to be sober.”

These are the words of Rose, who is featured in a new series of spots on KNOM.

Hopeful stories of recovery — from addiction, despair, homelessness, isolation, and other problems endemic in rural Alaska — have always graced KNOM’s airwaves. Recently, they’ve been presented in a series of inspirational messages based on interviews with Alaskans sharing their incredible biographies.

Volunteer producer Lauren Frost is spearheading the project in conjunction with Norton Sound Health Corporation’s Cultural Committee, whose members have been sharing their stories. Says Lauren, “many have struggled with addiction in their past, and that’s why they feel so moved to join the committee and help other people recover, just like they did.”

They offer hope to listeners. They talk about the negative effects of drug use, the reasons they decided to get help, and the ways their lives have changed since quitting. Lauren’s goal is to interview everyone on the Cultural Committee in the next two months.

Your support makes it possible for messages like Rose’s to make it to air — stories of rural Alaskans who been transformed by their personal struggles, and who are now eager to help others. In a place where alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, and myriad other issues are compounded by rural isolation, hopeful messages that a better life is within reach can mean so much: even in short, 90-second messages, like radio spots. Betsy, another committee member, tells KNOM listeners, “I smoked for almost 40 years. I thought I would never quit… but I did.”

Fellow volunteer producer Karen Trop brought to the airwaves a similar story of hope through a feature on Anchorage resident Samuel Johns, who’s created a Facebook group called “Forget Me Not.” The social media page is intended to connect friends and family of homeless people to help them get off the streets and reunite with loved ones. The page offers a place for people to communicate, to recognize images of homeless people, to read their stories, and to offer help, like donating frequent flyer miles. The page gives people the “opportunity to get someone off the street,” Samuel explains to KNOM. “People like to be a part of something that makes a difference… That’s what really sparked it — people wanted to be a part of something bigger.”

Rural radio helps shine a light on stories that might not otherwise find expression. KNOM’s mission continues with hope — thanks, as always, to your help.

photo above: Nome’s Norton Sound Regional Hospital, whose Cultural Committee has inspired a new series of inspirational spots on KNOM.