March Newsletter: Spring into Community Cares Funds

Keep It Cool!

Homer Hockey Association (HHA) has been awarded a $25,000 Community Impact grant from the Homer Foundation. With a service area from Ninilchik south, HHA programming serves 15,000 area residents with a full slate of non-weather-dependent recreational opportunities at the Kevin Bell Arena from October thru April. Last summer, regular maintenance at the arena revealed that the current 19-year old condenser – the system that makes the ice and keeps it cool – has significant corrosion, which has led to irreparable leaks in piping.

“This grant is a great example of the impact that the Homer Foundation’s Opportunity Fund can have in our community,” says Mike Miller, executive director. “Community donations to the Opportunity Fund make it possible for the Foundation to help with these kinds of larger special projects that are vital to the quality of life in our area.”

HHA began planning for replacement of the unit immediately, putting the project at the top of the rink’s maintenance list for summer of 2024 when the rink will be closed. Total project cost is anticipated to be $155,000. The new condenser will be a stainless-steel unit, which will better withstand Homer’s harsh marine environment. In addition to the Homer Foundation grant, additional-to-date funds have been secured from the HHA reserve, Rasmuson Foundation and the HHA board, advisory committee and members. HHA has also recently launched a public Keep It Cool! campaign to complete project funding.

“The Homer Foundation has a long track record of supporting capital projects that make important and lasting investments in our community, and the Foundation’s mission to enhance quality of life in the region is a natural fit with our goal of offering fun, diverse and healthy recreational options for local communities,” said Shelly Laukitis, Kevin Bell Arena/Homer Hockey Association Finance Chairperson.

HHA receives no regular municipal, borough, or state funding. A staff team of four part-time rink attendants and one part-time bookkeeper keep things rolling at the rink. Additionally, HHA volunteers contribute 14,000 hours annually, including the volunteer advisory committee which takes primary responsibility for maintenance and staffing of the rink.

To find out more about the HHA Keep It Cool! campaign, visit and/or contact Shelly Laukitis, Finance Committee Chairperson,, 907-235-2647. To learn more about the Homer Foundation Family of Funds, contact Mike Miller, executive director,

Steve & Noko Yoshida Fund

In 1990, Steve Yoshida was enlisted by his friend Ken Castner to begin drawing up the necessary paperwork establishing the Homer Foundation – Alaska’s first community foundation. Since that time, the Yoshida family has continued their generous support, helping to grow and strengthen the Foundation and communities of the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

Over 30 years later, we are thrilled to share that Steve, Noko and their family recently established the Steve and Noko Yoshida Fund.

House Martin Fund

We are delighted to welcome Holly and Dean Martin to the community of Homer and the Homer Foundation family.

“We are beyond thrilled to join the Homer community. We look forward to growing our family here for many years to come!”

Holly and Dean recently established the House Martin Charitable Fund to support environmental preservation and community welfare on the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

It’s Scholarship Season

What is the most important thing we can tell our young people? We believe in you and we want you to realize your goals!

Our 17 student scholarship programs provide awards ranging from $500 to $6,000, totaling $45,000 in funding for 2024. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Homer Foundation is proud to be the largest local provider of student scholarships on the Southern Kenai Peninsula. Since the Foundation started administering scholarships in 2000, it has awarded 349 individual scholarships totaling $463,997.

Applications are open thru March 24, 2024. Applicants must have graduated from a high school in our service area, which includes the following high schools: Connections through KPBSD (residence must be on Southern Kenai Peninsula), Homer High, Homer Flex, Kachemak Selo, Nanwalek, Ninilchik, Nikolaevsk, Port Graham, Razdolna, Susan B. English, or Voznesenka.

Application tip: Please take a few minutes to read through the scholarship descriptions. You may find that the name of the fund doesn’t tell you everything you need or might want to know. For example, you might be eligible for a scholarship that at first didn’t sound like a match.

To learn more about our scholarships and to find the application forms, click on over to apply:

Keep the Community Heartbeat Strong!

Awarding scholarships helps keep the heartbeat of our community strong and we need volunteers like you to serve on upcoming Scholarship Committees.

How it works:

1. Homer Foundation scholarship committees are comprised of a cross section of community members.

2. Homer Foundation staff review submitted applications before passing them along to scholarship committees.  

3. Honoring guidelines set by the donors, scholarship committees review applications and select award recipients for final approval by the Homer Foundation Board of Directors.  

Please consider applying to serve today! This is a great way to support the community and to honor the people, professional communities and causes reflected in the Homer Foundation Scholarship program.

To learn more, click on over to:

Questions? Contact Lauren Seaton,

Mission Moment: A Record Day at Olson Mountain

On a sunny Sunday in February, the Homer Rope Tow on Olson Mountain saw a record day with over 200 skiers. “As you can see, this is a happening place. You meet all kinds of friends and family here. It is a great cross section of community,” said Randy Wiest, president, Kachemak Ski Club.  As Wiest checked-in arriving skiiers at the base station, a continuous swarm of mostly youth and young adult skiiers zipped by on their way to catch the tow back up the mountain. According to Wiest, the Rope Tow saw some difficult times back in the 80’s with so few skiiers that the Club almost folded. In more recent years, things started to pick up and then during the COVID pandemic, things really took off as the entire community looked for healthy, outdoor opportunities – creating what might be called a “successful problem.”

“We had a real safety issue with vehicles on Olson Mountain Road and we were aware we had to do something,” Wiest explained. A $25,000 Community Impact grant from the Homer Foundation helped launch a parking lot improvement project. “Through a collaborative effort with the snow machine club, who had original permission from the Borough to have a trail head, we enlarged [the parking lot] which is shared with all public users. Before, we had people walking all over the road, and now they cross in just one or two places.”

Kachemak Ski Club (KSC) was founded in 1948, incorporated under the laws of the State

of Alaska in 1981 and exists as one of Homer’s oldest continuously operating nonprofits. An all volunteer-run organization, it has no paid staff and a nine member volunteer Board of Directors, plus two Ex-Officio members (former club presidents). While the uptick in skiiers was great for the KSC, upwards of 80-90 cars frequently lined Olson Mountain Road during the ski season creating safety issues for skiiers, pedestrians, vehicles and others recreating in the area as well as challenges for road crews. KSC anticipates that the demand for off-road parking will continue to significantly increase over the next 3-5 years.

The grant from the Homer Foundation was combined with $15K from KSC, a Tier I grant from the Rasmuson Foundation, additional donations and in-kind contributions. “This is a great example of the power of generosity and the impact a community can have through its local community foundation,” said Mike Miller, executive director. “In awarding this grant, our board saw that the Foundation could help address a significant community safety issue, while at the same time helping KSC secure additional funding and meet match requirements.”  

Sarah Banks, KSC board secretary, says the Homer Rope Tow has become a crucial part of their family. “It is a fabulous resource for the community and we try to keep costs down so families can afford it,” says Banks. “Kids can show up and parents can go off and ski or sit by the fire and watch their kids ski. It’s a place where people can meet up and have fun. Now we have a fully functional parking lot and we can get kids, cars and people off the road.”

Recent Grants
Homer Animal Friends

Homer Animal Friends (HAF) has been awarded a $5,000 Quick Response Grant to support a spring 2024 low-cost spay/neuter clinic. HAF was originally organized to create an animal shelter in Homer in 1986. Spay/neuter clinics are one of the three missions that HAF has supported for 35 years. “Helping to make spays and neuters available for those who want or need to have their dogs “fixed” reduces the stress of unwanted puppies in our community. This service also reduces the number of dogs

relinquished to the Homer Animal Shelter, thus helping to keep their costs down,” says HAF.

Affinity Films

A $3500 Quick Response grant was awarded to Affinity Films to help raise awareness of issues surrounding Parkinson’s Disease. Told through the lens of Homer resident, George Faust, producer Mary Katzke says the film will raise awareness of the disease and impart compassion for community members affected by Parkinson’s and other degenerative conditions. “The film will be valuable for anyone affected by

Parkinson’s including family members, caregivers, and professionals,” says Katzke. Founded in 1982, non-profit Affinity Films has produced a succession of award-winning films on a range of powerful subjects including breast cancer, mental health and cancer.

The Place We Love and Call Home…

Our donors come from all walks of life, but we all share a love for this place we call home and care about giving back to our community.

Five Top Reasons to Partner with the Homer Foundation:

1.Local knowledge and community expertise.

2.Personalized service.

3.Professional investment advisors paired with local oversight and transparent reporting.

4.Options for all levels of giving and a wide range of asset types.

5.Flexible fund options: community, field of interest, donor advised, scholarship, agency, designated.

Want to find out more? Contact Mike Miller, executive director, today!

Mike’s Message

It’s defiantly still winter, but it seems somehow less harsh than it did a week ago. Maybe it’s the extra daylight or perhaps the moderating temperatures. It could also be having 50 plus redpolls, pine siskins and red crossbills at my feeders every morning. My dog Jade, a German Shorthair Pointer, has a little meltdown whenever they come in. Not even the Camp Robber Jays will come near when that troop is around.

It’s also a great season to warm up to starting your own philanthropic legacy. We still have $2,500 matches left for those wanting to start their own Community Cares Fund. As a reminder, a CCF is an unrestricted fund used for grant-making in our community. The minimum fund size is $5,000 but the Homer Foundation will match the first $2,500 donated to start a CCF. That means you, your family, and your business have its own charitable fund for a $2,500 donation. These are endowed funds meaning it will carry your name forever as the funds grows. It’s a great way to give back to your community forever. Call the office at 235-0541 or email to find out more. In the meantime, here is a link to the fund announcement.


Mike Miller, Executive Director

The Homer Foundation