Deniece moved to Anchorage in 1997 and is proud to call Alaska home. She has been all over the country, including parts of Canada, but when she landed in Anchorage she knew Alaska would be close to her heart. “It’s the most beautiful place on earth. I’ve seen things here that I’ve only seen on television when I lived in the lower 48. The mountains here look close enough to touch and I love wearing sunglasses at 2am in the summer.
Her love of nature and wildlife started when she was very young, so moving to Alaska was like a dream come true. She had pets of all kinds growing up from small animals, birds, to exotic besides cats and dogs. Caring for and working with animals has always come naturally to her. So after she earned an Occupational Endorsement Certificate in Veterinary Assisting from the University of Alaska Anchorage at Mat-Su College, entered the veterinary field as a Veterinary Technician Assistant.
Then three years later her life took a turn. Health problems left her unable to work and soon after a deep depression set in and she found herself living in a homeless shelter.
Then she heard about The Web. “It wasn’t just a way for me to get off the street. I grew to love this place. Being there made me remember what I love about myself. I struggled with depression for a very long time. The Web helped me see that even though I’m not where I want to be in life I’m still a good person and that I’m can still be useful in spite of my physical limitations. So I pulled myself together and started volunteering.”
Coming from a military family, serving her community means a lot to her and she loves giving back. So she started working in the laundry room at Brother Francis Shelter and washing aprons for the workers at Bean’s Café. Then she shared the goodies she earned with the hungry people that came in to wash their clothes. “Soon folks started coming to the laundry room just to talk to me and a have a piece of candy or two. Everyone no matter where they are at in life or what they have done needs to know that someone cares. I never judged anyone. I just listened and said a positive word or two. Everyone needs that from time to time. I’ve been in their shoes myself and I understand.”
Her love of people and their welfare brought into the human services field. Volunteering opened her eyes to the needs that are here in Anchorage and the Downtown area. She really cares about the health, happiness and over all well being of the people she meets every day.
“As a former member of The Web I’ve walked in their shoes. I’ve struggled with depressing, homelessness, and alcohol addiction. I like knowing that I can tell anyone I’ve been there too and you can come out the other side of any problem that you are facing because I have and it starts with making small choices. That’s what Peer support means to me.”
She also loves learning new things and is now CPR-AED and First Aid trained. She can’t wait to add more classes under her belt so that she can gain more skills and continue to grow as Peer Mentor.
“It’s about always being the best YOU that you can be.”