To the editor:

The strain on Kodiak’s services is starting to take its toll, and like every year, the city officials, canneries and citizens “just don’t get it” with better preparedness and solutions.

I report first-hand about foreign students who invest so much to get to Kodiak for jobs in our No. 1 industry: fishing and seafood processing. Their challenge was to find housing, because without it, some canneries will not hire them. Once employed, the work is sporadic — no fish, no work. Every student must pass through Anchorage and apply for the Social Security card. They receive a document that indicates it is being processed. However, some canneries have the policy that without the actual social security card in hand, the payroll check are withheld. With thousands of applications being processed, someone’s paperwork has to be first and last through the Social Security office. The overwhelmed staff is no doubt trying its best with its own limitations.

Here now for four weeks, the migrant students are very low, if they are not totally without funds to pay rent, food, transportation and Internet. The students’ resilience surfaces in a city without buses as they walk with days worth of food. The library offers them the Internet and shelter until closing. Brother Francis Shelter continues with the challenges to provide free services of food, laundry, hot showers and a place to sleep. The students have just learned about Kodiak Baptist Mission and Salvation Army, which are inundated with requests from the food banks.

Just because the loitering (begging for housing) on the street corners has subsided some, the nonprofit services now need our help with donations of money or food. I highly recommend assistance start with the canneries by cutting a check to all three services — Brother Francis Shelter, Kodiak Baptist Mission and Salvation Army — as they carry the burden of your doings. The donations will get these volunteers and students through another summer season. The 2012 summer season is only 10 months away — no excuses for better hospitality on the part of Kodiakans.

Mary L. Stephenson

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