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Rep. Les Gara during constituent meetingA Note from Rep. Les Gara
AmeriCorps Breakthrough, and My Book of Iraqi-Jewish-Alaskan State Records

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Representative Les Gara with Americorps' Serve Alaska Students, Jan. 20, 2011

Dear Neighbors,

Voice Your Opinions!
Voice your opinions!Letters to the editor make a difference. You can send a 175-word letter to the Anchorage Daily News by e-mail (; or by fax or mail (call them at 257-4300). Send letters to the Anchorage Press via e-mail or by mail to 540 E. Fifth Ave, Anchorage, 99501. Feel free to call us if you need factual information to help you write a letter.
Contact the Governor. The Governor can be reached at 269-7450;; or
Contact us. My office can be reached at: 716 W. 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501; by phone: 269-0106; visit my website at; or email:

       I'm writing to brag on a recent success.  I was recently recognized as the Iraqi-Jew who ate a cup of instant lentil soup further north of the Arctic Circle than any other Iraqi-Jew.  Ever.  Oh, wait.  Wrong brag.  That was in 1990.  Though, someday ask me about the list of Iraqi-Jewish-Alaska firsts I think I've performed (top 10 Iraqi-Jewish basketball players in the state; first Iraqi- Jew to only catch four fish in 13 days on the Noatak River.)

       Alaskans are doing great things in our community. Skepticism aside, it's still the American way.  That and putting crosshairs on maps where your political opponents live, and calling your opponents socialists and goobers.  But I digress.  Again.

       Here’s the real good news.  Last year Rep. Chris Tuck and I negotiated in funding to bolster Alaska's AmeriCorps.  We added funds that promised to leverage eight-fold the amount of federal funds that will expand the AmeriCorps projects we have statewide.  Credit goes to our Democratic Caucus; to Rep. Mike Doogan for helping the negotiations, and to the Republicans who unanimously agreed with us to put the funding in the budget. 

       This week AmeriCorps kicked off their 2011 campaign with new volunteers in Juneau.  They will make our state a better place.  As a third aside, I went to law school with a man named Mike Brown, who started the prototype to AmeriCorps called City Year, which began in Boston.  Thanks, Mike.

       AmeriCorps garners youth 16-25 from around the state to be actively involved and engaged with community service projects promoting education, environmental protection, and public safety.  In rural Alaska, to lower the cost of energy, volunteers are teaching residents about energy conservation that are making a big difference.  Volunteers are working on health improvement issues, domestic violence prevention, student mentorship, trail and stream work and many other things that benefit us all.  See to get more information. 

       I had a chance to meet with a group visiting the capital this week.  It’s always inspirational to see young people excited about making the world a better place.  And it’s always encouraging to see their leaders with the same glint in their eyes.  They are excited about fostering the “ethic of service and volunteerism for all Alaskans,” and I can see why.  They are creating a generation of Alaskan citizens who have already invested some of themselves in this land, in their communities, to make it better.  They are developing a population who inherently understand the importance of volunteering in their communities.  They are thrilled about my book on Iraqi-Jewish-Alaska records.  At least that's what one of them said. 

       This is the basic role of government, and this is an example of money well spent.  

       Please continue to voice your opinions and concerns – we are here to help.

Best Regards,

[signed] Les Gara


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