In 1986, four partners planted the seeds of SAGA to fill the gap created by the loss of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) and Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) in the Tongass National Forest. Three of our four founders, Joe Parrish, Marc Ramonda, and Mark Whitman had been part of the False Island YACC program based out of Sitka, Alaska, and they were determined to keep the torch burning for future generations. With lots of determination, few resources, and support from the Juneau Ranger District and the Juneau School District, they created the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association as a private summer corps for Juneau youth.
In 1992 SAGA received funding through the National and Community Service Act, and went year round. We moved from our nest at the Juneau Ranger District, to a lodge in Juneau’s Eagle Valley that became our base and training site. We now had 2 programs: the corps program became the Serve Alaska Youth Corps, and the adventure based education and ropes course programs became the Eagle Valley Center. As our programs grew beyond Southeast Alaska, we began to just use the name SAGA.
The seeds of Connections were sown in the mid 90’s with the development of the Host Agency Program (HAP). This program, known for many years as ROPE (Rural Outreach Prevention and Education program) helped youth serving agencies receive a steady stream of dedicated AmeriCorps members that would serve at those agencies, helping them achieve their missions. To meet the need for affordable housing in the state while helping young people learn the construction trade and complete their basic education, we hatched the Young Alaskans Building Affordable Housing program in Fairbanks in the late 90’s. This program moved to Sitka for a few years, and now is right in our backyard here in Juneau, Alaska.
SAGA has grown and changed to meet the needs of Alaska. Thousands of people have taken part in our programs since 1986. We have been blessed with tireless, hardworking, dedicated, creative staff, who “have done so much for so many with so little, that they believe that they can do anything with nothing in no time flat!” We always love to hear from our alumnae, so drop us a line or give us a call and remember to always: “Play Hard, Play Safe, Shoot Straight, and Nobody Gets Hurt!”
Joe Parrish,SAGA Founder & Director
Anita Hazell Parrish,SAGA Founder & Grant Programs Specialist