Look a gift fish in the mouth! In fact, take a photo with it, climb on it, and feed it cash or check! The act of giving doesn’t just feel good. It is also fun! And now giving has become even more fun with the arrival of a six-foot bronze king salmon named Wildheart.
Wildheart the Giving Salmon is the Homer Foundation’s 25th anniversary gift to the community of Homer. It reflects the Foundation’s core values: solid, enduring, and giving back. Besides being a beautiful sculpture, it acts as a community chest where both residents and visitors can donate money to help meet community needs. It is a vision of philanthropy that is so real one can touch it, feed it, and see the gleam of the sun on its bronze scales!
If you know a student of Paul Banks, Fireweed, or West Homer Elementary, or a participant at last year’s Winter King Salmon Tournament, then you most likely know someone who had a hand in this new philanthropic work of art on the Homer Spit. In addition to sculpting assistance from the community and students, the artist also solicited name ideas. We could tell by the suggestions that these 300+ ad hoc sculptors fully understood what the spirit of the Giving Salmon was all about! Suggestions like Jeff, Philip, and Mark embody the idea that giving is for everyone. Bubba, Bubbles, Fluffy Scales and Shark Bait illustrate that the salmon bank is meant to be fun and enjoyed by all. Names such as Compassion and Dreamer represent the ideals that our community embraces and that make our town a wonderful place to live! But perhaps the child who suggested the name Mommy understood best what this is all about. It is about caring for one another, investing in each other, and a never-ending dedication to growing our community. Mommy always looks out for her children.
Of many great suggestions, the name Wildheart rose to the top for its perfect fit! Wild salmon represent the health of our ecosystem as they return each year and give endlessly to our community. They are a sustainable, beautiful resource, as is philanthropy. Our community has heart! Homer is where the Wildheart is!
At the center of it all is sculptor Christina Demetro. Christina is a unique combination of artistic talent, collaborative energy, intuitive communication, engineering, and good business sense. She pulled a committee’s ideas together into one vision, she invited the community in to be a part of the creative process, and she guided the project through to the installation, overseeing the smallest details.
A little-known secret about Wildheart is that while working with the children, Christina collected many of the children’s unselfish wishes. She created a beautiful enameled box to contain them and the box is hidden inside. Christina breathed life into the sculpture and she is the spirit of Wildheart!
If you haven’t already, head to the Spit by the new Boat House to meet Wildheart. Perhaps Wildheart will inspire you to make your own unselfish wish when you feed the fish!
Denise is a former Homer Foundation board member and former chair of the Foundation’s Development Committee where she put the FUN in fundraising.