AARP Eye Center
Valdez, AK - With funds from a 2022 AARP Community Challenge Grant, volunteers from the non-profit Valdez Adventure Alliance improved the popular Shoup Bay hiking trail to increase accessibility for wheelchair and stroller users and other visitors with limited mobility. AARP Alaska grant funds, the Valdez Adventure Alliance installed two wooden benches and made safety improvements to an uneven part of the trail. The first bench is located at the trail's entrance, and the second is part-way down the path under a large tree with a beautiful view. Both provide excellent places for trail users to rest and enjoy the Shoup Bay Trail. Overall, the project allows a greater diversity of Valdez residents to traverse the Shoup Bay Trail and enjoy the Alaskan outdoors.
“Our goal at AARP Alaska is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities,” said AARP Alaska State Director Teresa Holt. “This grant supports outdoor recreation for Valdez residents of all ages.”
Lanette Oliver, executive director of Valdez Adventure Alliance, discussed what the AARP grant meant to the Valdez community.
“We are a tiny, volunteer organization, dependent on grants and donations to deliver our mission to improve quality of life by creating equitable access to outdoor resources, education, and events. This is the first time we have had an AARP grant and we are very happy with all the major accomplishments from it. This, of course, includes physical results with the benches, but it also created leverage for more private and public funding that was used to rebuild and resurface another 620 feet of the trail, brought in new partners and volunteers, and increased awareness and engagement within the community. None of this would have been possible without the AARP grant.”
The AARP Community Challenge Grant helps cities and non-profit organizations make immediate improvements that spark long-term progress in creating more livable communities nationwide. In 2022, the AARP Community Challenge distributed nearly $3.4 million among 260 grant winners. In Alaska specifically, the Valdez Adventure Alliance was one of five organizations awarded grants in 2022, with projects in Anchorage, Juneau, St. George Island, Wasilla, and Valdez.
The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which helps communities become great places for residents of all ages. View the complete list of grantees and their project descriptions at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge and view an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP Alaska’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.