Community Connections provides individualized, customer-guided supports that encourage independence, community belonging, and quality of life.
Community Connections was founded in Ketchikan in 1985 by Joanna DeSanto, a visionary for assisting people who needed support. For individuals with developmental disabilities, local resources were limited and parents were often forced to move south or put their loved ones into institutional care. Joanna believed that person centered and community based services were the best path to success and satisfaction for individuals with developmental disabilities and anyone needing services to remain in their home community. We knew from the beginning that achieving positive outcomes in the lives of customers could only happen if services were tailored to meet the needs and voice of the individual, adapted based on cultural context, and built on the strengths and capacities of those seeking services.
By 1988, community based developmental disability services quickly expanded to Petersburg and Prince of Wales Island. In 1991, Community Connections added the Alaska Youth Initiative program that has since grown into the full service Children’s Mental Health program. In 1992, the Early Learning Program was added to meet the needs of infants and toddlers who were at risk for, or experiencing developmental delays. And finally, in 1994, Older Alaskans Resource Services was added to meet the needs of elders. In the late 90’s we started providing family and individual counseling and opened our second office in Craig. In 2010, Opportunity House, a supported living site with 8 apartments was built to meet the needs for more residential options for individuals with developmental disabilities. In 2013, the Developmental Disabilities and Older Alaskans Resource Services combined to become the current Senior and Disability Services program. We serve roughly 700 people annually in Ketchikan, Metlakatla, and on Prince of Wales Island. Today, all three vibrant programs operate under the shared belief of community based principals and core values. This shared belief holds us together and helps us stay focused on the founding principles.