Recently the City of Sitka declared Jan. 10, 2006, a special day to honor the services of Althea Buckingham, a member of the local Adventist church. The proclamation presented by the mayor cited “faithful and excellent advocacy and service on city commissions and boards addressing health needs and community concerns for over 15 years.”
Buckingham retired and moved back to Sitka after pursuing a career as an occupational therapist. When she became aware of the number of seniors who were abusing their health with alcohol and medications, isolating themselves from others and becoming depressed, she decided not to pursue a life of leisure but to use her skills to help neighbors.
Buckingham’s accomplishments include:
• Being an activist in helping to establish Medicare-funded long-term care facilities in Sitka.
• Organizing community resources to provide activities for seniors, including whale-watching trips, fishing trips, opening the local swimming pool especially for seniors, and health-related lectures.
• Urging the Sitka City Council to pass a first-in-Alaska clean-air ordinance for public buildings. Attached was the stipulation that a tobacco tax be collected to fund stop smoking training for the community.
• Updating the local Community Guide listing community social services.
• Becoming trained to support a future Hospice service for the community.
Because she is still concerned about community health, she has been appointed to the Sitka Community Hospital Board and is pushing for plans for future assisted-living facilities.