2019 Scholarship Press Release

$31,000 Awarded to Area Students

The Homer Foundation has awarded twenty-one scholarships totaling $31,000 to Homer area students. These scholarships are supported by permanent endowments administered by the Homer Foundation and would not be possible without the vision and generosity of community donors.

“These scholarships have value well beyond the monetary. It is the message we send to each recipient: ‘We believe in you,’ ” explains Homer Foundation Executive Director Joy Steward.

The success of the Foundation’s scholarship program depends on volunteers like our school counselors, notably Homer High School counselor Lin Hampson and her staff who are on the front line, connecting students to scholarship applications, volunteers Jane Miles and Lolita Brache who processed packets for the review committees, and the dozens of volunteers who made up these committees, sharing their time and expertise to read and rate applications, assuring a fair and equitable selection process.

Because of the donors who had the vision to establish these scholarships, and the community members that continue to support them, these funds will be here to support the education of our youth far into the future. Tax exempt donations to support these scholarships, or any of the 69 funds managed by the Foundation, are appreciated and put to work in our community. Contact Joy Steward for more information:  jsteward@homerfoundation.org

Congratulations to the 2019 recipients:

Homer Community Science Scholarship: for post-secondary education in the life sciences.  The fund was established by retired Homer High School Science teacher, Stan Eller, and is supported by community donations.

Homer High School students: Luciano Fasulo, $750, Anna Brock, $750, Meadow Beckett-Cook, $500

Alain and Daniel Rieser Scholarship:  established in memory of Alain and Daniel Rieser, it provides for a travel award or college tuition to a graduating senior with a flair for foreign language and/or interest in foreign cultures/travel. 

Brenna McCarron, Homer High School, $3000

Drew Scalzi Memorial Maritime Scholarship:  established in memory of Drew Scalzi. The underlying philosophy of the scholarship is to nurture young adults pursuing their careers in the maritime field or who are from local fishing or maritime families.

Avram Salzmann, Homer High School, $1000 and Michael Trail, Nikoleavsk School, $1000

Health Care Providers Scholarship:  established by local health care providers to support local students committed to pursuing a career in a health care field. May be awarded upon high school graduation, or later in their educational career.

Homer High School students: Luciano Fasulo, $1000, Kelsea Scott, $1000, Emilia Halstead, $500, and Mackenzie Callis, Class of ’08, $3000

Beluga Tail Non-Fiction Writing Scholarship: rewards graduating seniors that demonstrate exemplary skills in non-fiction writing. 

Avram Salzmann, Homer High School, $3000

Beluga Tail Fiction Writing Scholarship: rewards graduating seniors that demonstrate exemplary skills in non-fiction writing. 

Meadow Beckett-Cook, Homer High School, $3000

Kachemak Bay Medical Clinic Scholarship:  established by Dr. Paul Raymond to provide financial assistance to a public high school graduating senior in the greater Homer area who has best exemplified academic excellence, community and/or school service, and a strong work ethic. 

Luciano Fasulo, Homer High School, $2000 ($500/yrX4)

Ptarmigan Arts Visual Arts Scholarship:  Established by the member artists of Ptarmigan Arts Gallery to support aspiring young artists, either with college tuition support or purchase of art supplies or classes. 

Anna Brock, Homer High School, $1000

Nikki Geragotelis (Fry) Memorial Scholarship:  This scholarship was established by the family and friends of Nikki in honor of the life she lived. The goal of the scholarship is to keep Nikki’s memory alive by helping students continue their education. Throughout her life Nikki had a “walk-on” spirit. A recipient is selected that exemplifies her sportsmanship, athleticism, integrity, friendliness, and hard-working nature, giving their best every time they step on the field whether at practice or for a game.

Homer High School students Cora Parish, $2500, Rylyn Todd, $2500

Bill and Liz Johnson Teacher Education Scholarship:  Bill and Liz Johnson both served as teachers and mentors to many students in the community. They were always willing to help give a leg up to any student willing to work hard. The Bill and Liz Johnson Teacher Education Scholarship Fund celebrates their memories, and their love of teaching by providing support to students choosing education as a career.

Cora Parish, Homer High School, $1000

Diane Wambach “Shoot for the Stars” Scholarship:  This scholarship was established in memory of Diane Wambach by her family to encourage and support young adults who have overcome adversity and want to pursue their educational and career goals. Diane Wambach believed in people’s dreams and always encouraged her own children to shoot for the stars.   The fund provides for an annual award to support college or technical training program.

Samantha Martin, Homer Flex School, $1000

Heather Pancratz Memorial Scholarship:  The communities of the Southern Kenai

Peninsula lost a valuable educator in 2017. This scholarship was established to keep alive Heather’s commitment to her students and home community

of Nikolaevsk. Heather is remembered for her belief in a loving God from which flowed compassion, love and a faithful devotion to family, friends, students and community. The Fund will continue her legacy through its support to students who exemplify Heather’s critical thinking, respectful questioning, and lifelong learning approach to life.

Michael Trail, Nikoleavsk School, $500

Fish & Wildlife Scholarship:  This scholarship was created by Steve Albert who is a resident of Homer. Steve dedicated his life to Fish and Wildlife management for the State of Alaska. The intent is to support Homer area students in pursuit of higher education in wildlife or fisheries biology or management, with a preference for students planning on working in Alaska.

Dexter Lowe, Homer High School, $1500

Pay It Forward: April 2019

Submitted by Billy Day

I often prefer to tackle jobs during the winter months. The snow pack can be much easier to travel upon than the veggie covered terrain one encounters during other seasons. Today I made a new friend while on the job.

I drove to the end of the road and found a trooper vehicle parked in the turn around, engine running but no one in sight. I negotiated a tight turn and backed my truck to the snow berm to unload my snow machine. A few minutes later a trooper appeared, post holing up the driveway. It turned out he was coming to the aid of an elderly woman whom he was going to give a lift into town.

Several minutes later she appeared in the distance, ski poles supporting her while she made the long journey up her driveway to the trooper’s car. She was obviously laboring in the deep snow and I hurried to try to make my machine available to assist her. By the time I had it ready she was crawling into the backseat of the trooper’s car and off they went. I figured all was taken care of.

I continued with my business of digging up existing survey monuments and setting new ones. A couple of hours later I looked up and once again, there she was, ski poles in hand, bags draped over her arms, standing where I had last seen her loading into the trooper’s car. She was gazing down her quarter mile long, snow covered driveway and contemplating the journey. I hollered at her to stay put, that I would come give her a ride home. I quickly kicked off my snow shoes, disconnected my sled full of gear, and fired up my machine. I pulled up next to her as she stood unsteady in the deep snow.

“Can I offer you a ride home?” I asked.

“That would be swell.” she responded.

“Are you familiar with riding on these machines?” I inquired.

“Never been on one in my life,” she answered “but I’m ready to give it a try”.

With some effort I had her loaded on the machine with a little room left for me to climb on and drive. I gave her a few last minute instructions and off we went. On the way down the hill to her little cabin we passed her car, stuck in the deep drifts from Saturday’s storm. We unloaded she and her bags at her front door. She thanked me over and over for saving her the walk and for the exhilarating ride. I offered to dig her car out and park it back in front of her cabin. She had done her best with a small snow blower to clear a parking space there. She dug her keys out of her bag and handed them over.

“That would be swell.” she said.

She had buried her old beat up Blazer pretty good, but in 30 minutes I had it dug out and parked in front of her cabin. I gave her my phone number as I handed her the keys.

We finally introduced ourselves as we said our goodbyes. She offered to pay me with a fist full of a five and a few ones. I declined the offer and reminded her to call me the next time she got herself into a pickle. With tears in her eyes she thanked me again.

Before going back to work, I called a friend who has a plow business and told him the story. He said he would be right over. An hour later he pulled in and began the task. A few minutes after his arrival my phone rang. It was my new friend Carmen, “Like the opera”.

“Someone is plowing my driveway!” she exclaimed. “I’m not sure I can afford that.”

“That’s my friend and he was in the neighborhood and there will be no charge for his services.” I replied. “And be sure to call me the next time you find yourself in a pickle.”

Tonight I suspect Carmen is nestled into her little cabin with a fire burning in the stove and counting her blessings. It was a big day for her. I hope she feels she has made a new friend, someone she can call upon in a time of need. She has my number, in her new smart phone (we learned how to add a new number to her contacts), and written on the inside of her door, and again on a piece of plywood on her entry.

And for myself, I feel blessed for the new friend. I suspect I will be seeing more of Carmen.

Billy Day is a life long Alaskan who lives a happy life on Diamond Ridge and prefers to spend his time in the mountains with a pair of boards strapped to his feet.

Grant Updates: Winter 2019

Below are Highlights from Six Recent Quick Response Grants

The most recent recipient of our Quick Response Grant program is the Anchor Kings Wrestling Club. They will use these funds to support their team in upcoming tournaments. In 2017, they were the State Champions for Small Teams. To us, the 30-40 youth who participate each year are no small team, and this program provides a great outlet for this community.


Seen here, a happy Hospice of Homer volunteer, ready to deliver Thanksgiving meals to their home-bound clients. This is a great example of a small grant that had a large impact on these clients who otherwise might not see anyone on the Thanksgiving Holiday.


MAPP’s Resilience Coalition, together with Bunnell Arts Center, presented Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, a leading visionary on the subject of decolonization, and a citizen of the Sioux Nation. He is a leading expert on Indigenous Peoples’ health, leadership, and cultural rights; the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization; decolonizing social work approaches; neurodecolonization and mind body approaches; neuroscience and Indigenous Peoples; and traditional mindfulness and contemplative practices.


Another recent grant was awarded to the Girl Scouts Troop 1935 to help these girls achieve a life changing experience at the Scout World Center in Pune India – volunteering in the local community, meeting girls from all over the world, and immersing themselves in a very different culture.


We were one of many organizations that collaborated with the Friends of the Homer Public Library to put forward their Big Read 2019. This campaign had a total of 18 different events this winter, surrounding the graphic novel Can’t we talk about something more Pleasant? by Roz Chast.


One recent grant from our Unrestricted Fund was to support Razdolna School in updating their emergency supplies. This allows the school to respond effectively to emergency events, particularly given their unique location. They were able to use these funds to supplement the given supplies and continue to provide a safe, learning environment for all their students.

Pay It Forward: How to Live Forever

A few years ago, Roman Blum died at age 97 in New York State. His body moldered in the morgue for four days before Roman’s lawyer was found. It turned out that Roman had died without a will. As a childless Holocaust survivor, his 40 million dollar estate ended up being paid to New York State, which is ironic. As a passionate supporter of nonprofits, he could have directed that his money go to his favorite charities upon his death. A close friend and fellow Holocaust survivor said of him, “He was a very smart man, but he died like an idiot.”

As attorneys, we have seen less dramatic, but equally tragic stories pass through our town.  We have also witnessed the unexpected joys of planned giving to nonprofits. With a thoughtful estate plan, you can live forever through your legacy of planned giving.  You can make a plan to give back to the community that has given much to your family, while still sharing your hard earned wealth with your children or other heirs.  Fortunately, Homer is home to many nonprofits that will outlive us, and that steward local arts, music, youth programs, marine and environmental conservation, land conservation, public radio, and many other facets of our community that we cherish. 

The Homer area is also very fortunate to have a community foundation, the Homer Foundation, that is tasked with a mission to receive, invest and distribute estate gifts for the benefit of the Homer area communities, forever. Whom did I love and whose love do I still see around me in Homer through charitable giving? Among many others, Drew Scalzi, with his wry sense of humor; Mary Epperson, my favorite little leprechaun; the gentle giant that was Peter Larson; Nikki Fry Geragotelis, the young athlete with a can-do attitude; and of course, Renda Horn, who patiently tried to teach me accordion.  They will live forever in our hearts, and beyond our lives.

To help promote estate planning and charitable giving in our community, the Friends of the Homer Library will be presenting three free seminars on estate plans. The first presentation will be on March 19th from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. entitled Estate Planning For Blended Families (second marriages and/or families with step-children). If you or your partner have a child from a previous relationship, the rules for dying without a will are surprising.

A second free seminar will be presented on April 16th from 6 p.m.- 7 p.m. entitled Estate Planning For Couples And Families With Minor Children.  Among other important goals, your will can designate who will raise your children in your absence.

The final seminar will be presented on May 16th from 6 p.m.- 7 p.m. with a focus on How to Avoid Probate.  All seminars will be held at the Homer Public Library.

If you attend a presentation and decide to draft a will or trust with one of the three attorney presenters, that attorney will donate 10% of their fee for the estate plan to a Homer nonprofit of the attorney’s choice. If your estate plan provides a significant gift to a local nonprofit (of your choice), the attorney-presenter will reduce your cost for the estate plan by ten percent.

As a friend recently said, by planned giving we plant a robust tree under whose shade we will never sit. That is perhaps our greatest gift to a very special community.  Andy Haas, husband, father, nonprofit activist, and attorney.

2019 Scholarships Now Available

Are you a graduating senior or do you know a graduating senior looking to pursue post-high school education? We have 11 scholarships that are awarded through the Homer Foundation in 2019. We love the opportunity to support education of our area youth. Application deadline is Thursday April 11th, 2019.

Go here for a link to the application. This application is for all 11 scholarships, with eligibility requirements, award amounts, as well application requirements.

Contact the Homer Foundation at info@homerfoundation.org or call 235-0541 for more information.

Announcing YAC Grant Applications for 2019 now open

The Homer Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) announces their new grant application process. YAC is a committee of the Homer Foundation, and is comprised of the members of the National Junior Honor Society at Homer Middle School.  YAC’s mission is to promote philanthropy and improve the quality of life for the youth of our community.

            YAC is soliciting letters of intent from non-profit organizations that promote fun, healthy, and educational activities for youth in Homer. This year the funding priority will be for programs taking place in summer 2019. If your organization would like to apply for a grant, we invite you to submit a letter of intent not to exceed 2 pages.  The letter should include the following:

  • The name of your organization
  • Tax exempt status
  • The name, phone number, and e-mail address of the contact person
  • A description of how your organization would use the YAC grant
  • The project’s total cost and how much you are asking from YAC
  • How your project is intended to benefit youth in Homer
  • The beginning and ending dates of your summer program/project

            All applicants will receive a response letter.  Only selected organizations will be contacted by YAC representatives to complete the review process which may include a scheduled site visit.  Final determinations will be made by April 30thAwards shall range from $200 -$2,000.  For more information, contact Joy Steward at 235-0541, or e-mail at info@homerfoundation.org.

Receipt Deadline:  Wednesday, March 6 by 5pm. 

Homer Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee

Email:  info@homerfoundation.org

Mail:   Homer Foundation              Deliver:  lower level, Kachemak Bay Title

            PO Box 2600                           3733 Ben Walters Lane

            Homer, AK  99603                   Homer, AK  99603

Pay It Forward: A Christmas Homecoming

During her busy and too-brief life, my wife helped in many non-profit organizations. I never did. As a working journalist, I kept my distance from good causes. Clear-thinking journalism (always of value, always in short supply) was my way of pitching in.

When I left full-time newspaper work, and agreed to start helping the Homer Foundation, it was not the memory of Sally’s good works that inspired me. Nor was it because I had exceptional amounts of money and time to give. It was because I remembered what it was like to receive.

Some time ago, when our two children were still young, we left our cabin in the woods out East Road for a year-long journalism fellowship at Stanford University. It was a good year, but just as it ended, Sally fell ill and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her disease was advanced and the treatment was awful. Paid vacation turned into homesick exile, as we spent six additional months in California.

We all were nervous on the flight back to Alaska, Sally especially. It was just before Christmas, the middle of winter, the dark season. Our cabin was a half-mile off the road, buried in snowdrifts. Skiing back and forth, as we did when the snow got deep, would be exhausting. We had to unpack and set up the house after a long absence, and I had to get back to work. Cabin life was rigorous enough when healthy.

But Sally was eager to get our kids back to their proper home, in time for the holiday. Her prognosis was not good, and this might be the last time she unpacked and hung the familiar ornaments.

We landed in Homer on a mid-morning flight —  sun up, no wind, the first blue sky in weeks. A few friends were there to meet us. They brought our car and told us they’d stocked the refrigerator. We drove straight out east, just the four of us, and parked in our familiar snowbank. I loaded a sled with suitcases and we hiked the half-mile through deep snow, following a path that somebody trudged open for us. I missed the clue. We climbed the steps and opened the door.

The cabin had been cleaned spotlessly and buffed, the newly refinished pine floor gleaming in the low sunlight, white lights blinking around all the windows, flower arrangements of white daisies and red poppies, jars of Christmas cookies, meals in the freezer, and new blue tiles covering the wall behind the woodstove. The Monitor stove hummed complacently.

Hanging from a beam in the center of the house was a brightly colored throng of birds, strings of folded paper cranes in the shape of a Christmas tree. I set aside the accompanying card when I heard Emily and Ethan squealing from the back rooms.

I expected to encounter a skyline of stacked shipping boxes, but the boxes were gone, everything put away, the rooms decorated and cozy, their little beds made up. We walked around, kids exclaiming over each new discovery, Sally weeping softly.

We climbed the ladder to our room and there across the bed lay a friendship quilt with twenty patches, each hand-sewn by someone different.

That night, as I cleaned up after dinner, wood stove crackling, we heard voices out in the darkness. From the window we saw lanterns rising over the snowy hill. Soon there were maybe thirty carolers in the snow before our house. They carried a big golden star, made of waxed paper and wire and lit from within by a candle.

We put on heavy coats and went out on the porch while they sang. Ethan, six years old, bounced happily from one bare foot to the other, and Sally smiled at him helplessly. In the candlelight were faces of our McNeil Canyon neighbors, families from the kids’ schools, friends from town. They sang and welcomed us home and then left us at peace, trekking off through the snow into the night.

We carried the paper star into our warm, bright cabin and set it by the hanging paper cranes. I picked up the unopened card, from a Homer friend, and handed it to Sally. She opened it and read aloud:

“Dear Sally, The Japanese say, if you fold a thousand cranes, you get one wish. I give my wish to you.”

 

Homer author Tom Kizzia serves on the Homer Foundation board.

 

 

Tom Kizzia 235-4060 / 299-3662

tkizzia@gmail.com

Announcing Executive Director Search

The Homer Foundation is seeking applicants for its Executive Director position. This is a 4 day/week, 32 hour exempt position. Salary $50,000 DOE.

Homer Foundation Executive Director Job Description

To Apply:

Please submit a resume, three references and a signed cover letter that includes this statement:
“I hereby authorize the Homer Foundation to contact the professional references provided with this application and, at its discretion, to conduct a confidential background check. I further understand and agree that this application will be disqualified for any material misrepresentation or omission.”

 

Application reviews begins Jan 22nd, 2019.  Position is open until filled. Position to start June 3, 2019

Applications should be submitted via email to:  jsteward@homerfoundation.org. The email should include in the subject line, “Attention: Search Committee.”

Inspirational Planned Giving…close to home

“The idea is not to live forever, but to create something that will” -Andy Warhol

This gentleman, Dorian “Pete” Cordes, passed away last year. He made the Mandan Public Schools the primary beneficiary of his retirement savings, totaling $345,000. The gift established the Arnold E. Larson Memorial fund, which provides for a yearly $10,000 instrumental music scholarship. Arnold E. Larson was the Mandan High School music instructor. Creating the scholarship fund through his legacy gift was a way memorialize an inspirational teacher, friend and mentor.

You may be asking yourself, how does this relate to the Homer Foundation? Arnold Larson was the father of Peter Larson, late husband of our very own board member, Flo Larson. Flo, also from North Dakota, can attest to the large impact this scholarship will have on the students of Mandan.

Here at the Homer Foundation, we hear stories like these and want to share them with the world. We know that our philanthropic work could not happen without donors who have a mind for the future. This story is a reminder that a planned gift is a simple way to provide a lasting legacy to your community. The Homer Foundation stands ready to help you fulfill your philanthropic goals and invite you to join our Legacy Society so we can highlight your generosity and hopefully inspire others to leave a lasting legacy to their community through the Homer Foundation to ensure a healthy and vibrant community for future generations.

Our pursuit at the foundation is to generate donors with similar interests to sustain the funds endowed to us which we then strive to connect to community needs. Through the legacy society, we are providing security for our future needs. We look forward to working with donors inspired by Dorian Cordes and including philanthropic ideals into their estate planning.

Welcome our newest Board of Trustee Members!

The Homer Foundation Board of Trustees want to send our warmest congratulations to our newest board members, Liz Downing and Van Hawkins.

Liz Downing has a strong background in education, both as an employee and a board member. She moved to Homer in 1987, working at the Kachemak Bay Campus as the Student and Enrollment Services Manager. She currently works for the Kenai Peninsula College as the Title III Project Director, which strengthens institutions grant focusing on distance education access and success. She was also a predominant member and Vice President of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education, where she received the recognition of the Outstanding Board Member Award from the National School Board Association. We are already benefiting from her extensive board experience, her love for community service and hope she continues to bring in her advocacy skills for the grant recipients to the Homer Foundation.

Van Hawkins is a born and raised Homerite, who moved away to gain extensive financial experience outside, and is back to make Homer is home once again. He is a financial advisor for Raymond James as well as a current member of the Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club. In addition, he has been on the finance council for St. John’s Catholic Church for the past two years. Van is probably most known in the community as a performing member of the Pier One Theatre group and is a large supporter of the arts in the community. In addition to all of these roles, he has also recently accepted the position as the Rotary Health Fair Co-Coordinator. We are very thankful that Van has accepted the additional responsibilities associated with becoming a trustee of the Homer Foundation. We look forward to his youthful energy to guide the foundation in maintaining and improving the communities of the Southern Peninsula.

If you see these two around town, congratulate them on this honor and feel free to ask them any questions you might have about the Homer Foundation.