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Community partners unveil plans for local youth center, PeaceHealth donates $250,000

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

2022-08 Press Release RYC P_adobe_express
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Contact: Kate Govaars 907-228-7657 or

For stakeholder information, questions, and/or inquiries, please contact:

Kristen Van de Geer

Youth Center Project Manager

2506 First Avenue

Ketchikan, Alaska 99901


Community partners unveil plans for local youth center

Ketchikan, ALASKA – Ketchikan-based organizations in partnership with Residential Youth Care (RYC), Ketchikan Wellness Coalition and PeaceHealth have unveiled plans to establish a youth center that will be a welcoming space for youth ages 15-21. To address documented needs, the drop-in youth center will have connections to basic services, caring adults and a network of supports and programming. This coming together of multiple organizations demonstrates the necessity of a youth-focused space and the commitment to address gaps in services for this segment of the population.

PeaceHealth, through its Community Health Impact Fund, donated $250,000 to help launch the youth center. To address needs identified in the recently released the 2022-2025 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), PeaceHealth supports the early prevention of substance use, behavioral issues and homelessness through programs and resources outlined in the development of the youth center. This initial grant from PeaceHealth will help drive the project forward.

Clay Keene, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center Community Health Board and Collaboration Committee member shared, “There is a segment of teens and young adults in the Ketchikan community that fly under the radar, not seen by most of us, who are in crisis and need our help. I have become aware (if not shocked) of the immediate need to provide services to this segment of our community. Providing Ketchikan youth with a drop-in facility where they feel comfortable and can get the services they need is essential to enhancing their opportunities to succeed, which in turn has a very direct and profound benefit.”

The findings in the CHNA were complimentary to the 2019 Ketchikan Youth Risk and Behavior Survey, which identified several needs and risks to area youth. Of the many risks identified in the survey, the most concerning was that 1 in 3 Ketchikan-area high schoolers have seriously considered suicide. Both the CHNA and the Youth Risk and Behavior surveys articulate prevention as critical to addressing substance and behavioral issues. These surveys further identified that Ketchikan youth face many challenges made harder with support services delivered at multiple different community sites.

The youth center seeks to address these challenges by integrating basic needs like food, laundry and showers; peer support and programming; health partnerships with drop-in service providers for medical, substance treatment and behavioral health; and achievement services like employment training into the youth center. By integrating these services, the youth center aims to improve mental and emotional health to prevent substance use disorders and homelessness.

Fundraising efforts launched in February 2022, and additional fundraising is ongoing. The youth center is projected to open in Fall of 2023. Community partners include Community Connections, Women In Safe Homes (WISH), Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), Ketchikan Public Health, Youth Court, Akeela, Department of Labor, and among others.


About Residential Youth Care: Residential Youth Care is a 501(c)(3) non-profit behavioral health organization based in Ketchikan, Alaska. Founded in 1989, RYC provides services and community programs for youth including youth and families at risk. With over sixty staff members, RYC works in partnership with OCS, DJJ, and community organizations to provide youth-focused services and preventative programs. RYC operates based on a philosophy emphasizing a culture of care and the building of therapeutic relationships through the development of positive, supportive, and planned interventions.

About PeaceHealth: PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. PeaceHealth has more than 15,000 caregivers, a group practice with more than 1,200 providers and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. The Sisters shared expertise and transferred wisdom from one medical center to another, always finding the best way to serve the unmet need for healthcare in their communities. Today, PeaceHealth is the legacy of the founding Sisters and continues with a spirit of respect, stewardship, collaboration and social justice in fulfilling its Mission. Visit us online at

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