Kodiak’s first ever social worker will be making her way
back to town to participate in this weekend’s Aging Connection Conference. Mary
Donaldson has more.
Though Ella Craig, now 88, has been retired for many
years from her field in social work, she continues to volunteer her time to
social services around the state. She is Kodiak’s first social worker, and says
it was seeing the hard times people dealt with after the Great Depression that drew
her into this field of work.
(Craig 2 :35s “…grew into it.”)
says she was a social worker for a few years on the East Coast before she was
contacted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Alaska to see if she would be interested in
working for them. The thirty-three-old was excited to make the journey to the
territory, as Alaska
was not yet a state.
(Craig 1 :44s “…of 1953”)
Once she arrived in Kodiak, she says the mayor at that
time, Lee Bettinger, was happy to welcome her to town. He even set her up with
housing, which was hard to find, though she says that at the time, the Aleutian
Homes housing project was taking off.
the first social worker in town, and one of the few in the whole Alaska territory kept
her very busy. She says while in Kodiak, she mainly worked with the Alaska
Native population, since social services provided to them were scarce.
(Craig 4 :26s “…things I was helping with.”)
Craig says she only stayed in Kodiak for a little over
two years, as the BIA had decided to combine their Kodiak and Anchorage
offices, leading her to move to Anchorage.
She says that although she was relocated to Anchorage, she still traveled to Kodiak from
time to time.
5 :15s “…all those areas.”)
She says the most rewarding part of her job has been
working in her field long enough to see some of her clients come full circle.
(Craig 6 :37s “…over generations.”)
Craig retired from the BIA after 34 years of work, and
went to work at Providence
for another 6 years before retiring again. She has been volunteering her time
since then to various senior and aging programs.
will be arriving in town Friday afternoon to participate in this weekend’s
Aging Connection Conference at the Kodiak
She will be a senior advocate speaking on aging issues and talking with other
seniors about how to accept the aging process.
Craig received her master’s degree in social work from University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill in the early 1950’s.
I’m Mary Donaldson. ###