History of Set Free Alaska
In 2005, after reading an article in Charisma magazine about a substance abuse treatment center named Set Free Indeed (SFI) located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ryan Ray contacted Tonja Miles the founder of SFI, about starting a similar program in the state of Alaska. Shortly after a trip was planned to observe and learn from Tonja and her team. Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana several days before Ryan planned to leave Alaska and the time in Baton Rouge was spent working side by side with the SFI team helping to victims of the hurricane instead of observing the program. From this point on a lasting relationship was built with Tonja and the Set Free Indeed treatment center. In November of 2008, Ryan asked Philip Licht to assist in the startup of Set Free Alaska (SFA) and become its CEO. Ryan and Philip then went back to Baton Rouge to meet with Tonja and the SFI staff, to observe the treatment center, and receive practical materials to help in the formation of Set Free Alaska.
In February of 2009, SFA was incorporated as a non-profit substance abuse prevention and treatment center. The mission of Set Free Alaska is to facilitate freedom from the bondage of addiction. SFA is a Christian treatment center that uses a mind-body-spirit approach to recovery. Our multi-generational programs facilitate hope, healing, and resilience resulting in lasting change. We provide services to the community in the area of substance abuse, children’s behavioral health, residential treatment for women, peer support, workforce development and most recently, Outpatient services in Homer. SFA provides group and one-on-one counseling in conjunction with the Word of God to help guide people into a life of freedom.
SFA received its 501(c) (3) from the IRS in August of 2009 giving the agency a tax exempt status, and allowing individuals to donate with a tax deduction. In January 2010, SFA began providing sober support through its Friday Night Freedom family service. This group met every Friday of 2010 until 2015.
The Division of Behavioral Health recognized SFA as a certified substance abuse treatment center in May of 2010. Set Free Alaska is the only faith-based certified program in the Mat-Su Valley. Since receiving state certification, Set Free Alaska has been providing individual and group counseling to those struggling with addiction. Services range in intensity, duration, and times depending on the need of the individual. With male, female, coed, evening, and day groups, the options are vast for people seeking help.
Since its inception Set Free Alaska has grown from one volunteer staff to fifty plus paid staff. Its facilities have grown from a 600 square foot office space to a 4900 square feet treatment complex; as well as a Women’s Residential Treatment facility. Clinical treatment began with only three clients and has increased to over one hundred thirty active clients. The testimonies of lives transformed and hope restored has made the journey worthwhile. The SFA board and staff are looking ahead to the change and impact that this agency will have on the State of Alaska.