Pay It Forward: Educational Opportunities

October 2020

By Paula J.S. Martin,

I spent much of my life working in universities and colleges. I was honored to help educate a few generations of college students. I almost didn’t have that opportunity.

No one in my family was a college graduate. My mother worked hard to raise three kids as a single parent, due to being first widowed and then divorced from her second husband. Separation and divorce were rare back in 1964, and her path with three kids all under the age of eight was tough. She managed, but there was no extra money to help me with college tuition.

I had dreamed of becoming a college professor since I was in third grade, when I helped a neighbor kid figure out her homework—it was such a blast helping someone and seeing their understanding light up. I knew I needed to go to college to fulfill that dream.

Through working in summer jobs and part-time jobs, I had been able to save a few thousand dollars. In 1976 that, combined with continuing to work part-time throughout the school year including one year at a local factory, was just about enough to pay for tuition, room and board at a public university. It wasn’t easy but it was doable. Private colleges were out of reach. Those state-supported universities made all the difference for me, giving me access to my dream.

Today, tuition, room and board at those public state, four-year schools average well over $25,000 a year for state residents. Add in about $9,000 more to go to a public state university as an out-of-state resident. Those numbers double for private colleges. There are many reasons for this enormous increase in cost of universities: reduced state subsidies of universities, increased costs of personnel, more requirements of regulation, and larger numbers of student services. From the perspective of the student looking to enter, the reasons for the cost matters less than the barrier they represent. The wages of summer or part-time work did not keep up with the cost of going to college.

It is the rare student today that could pay that price for fulltime attendance without going into debt. In 2019, four-year, public university graduates averaged $29,900 in debt at graduation.

I speak with many people my age who recognize that they were lucky to have college opportunities, opportunities that are not available today without significant debt or family financial sacrifice.

Knowing the value those universities gave to me, and the hurdles of finances for students, throughout my career I was pleased to give a percentage of my income to the university to support financially hampered students. Each year my alma matter receives a check from me to help out the latest generation of students trying to figure out a way to pay for their education. One of the reasons I was happy to take on Board membership with the Homer Foundation is due to its significant scholarship programs. Many people in our community have donated to provide financial support for students in our region to help them fulfill their dreams that require higher education. Paying it forward makes such a difference, for today and for the future.

Sponsored by the Homer Foundation, a community foundation promoting local philanthropy since 1991. To learn more please visit us @ www.homerfoundation.org and like us on Facebook.


Paula Martin joined the Homer Foundation board in May of 2019. Paula lived in Homer since 2007, but has been working at various universities as faculty or administrator since 2007. Her husband has worked in Homer, they plan on living here far into the future. She has also started a consulting company that has already proved a strong resource of the non-profits in the greater Homer area. Paula has a love for science education, aquatic insects, fly fishing, and travel.

September 2020 Newsletter

Update from the Executive Director

The fireweed is turning fluffy, we had a little frost on the truck this morning and the silvers are in the Anchor River (well a few at least). Fall is here. It’s that way with life. It’s a beautiful summer and then you realize the sun is setting earlier everyday.

While that may sound a little melancholy, I’m actually very excited for the future. I want to thank Lindsey Wolter who helped us with our first webinar on bequest giving. She did a great job working through the various options. Having her there with all of you made it a success. It was great to see everyone’s interest in leaving legacy in the community.  A bequest gift is a wonderful way to keep impacting the things you cared about in life. If you’re thinking about your estate documents, we have sample language your legal or financial advisor can include in your estate documents. You can find that language here.

Sincerely, Mike


Note

We’re changing the format of our newsletter. It will be more frequent (monthly) but shorter. We hope connecting more frequently will strengthen our connections in this season of greater separation.


Our COVID-19 Response

On March 25, 2020 the Board of Trustees created a new fund for the Homer Foundation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund is being used to support our local non-profits and the vital services they provide. This fund allows for flexibility for the agencies to apply as needed and for the Foundation to meet changing community needs. Right now, the focus for non-profits applying should be addressing basic needs including human services and emergency assistance or serving vulnerable populations. Here is a list of agencies who have received at least one grant from this fund:

  • Anchor Point Senior Center, $4,200
  • Homer Senior Center, $4,750
  • Anchor Point Community Food Pantry, $7,000
  • South Peninsula Haven House, $2,500
  • Homer Farmers Market, $2,500
  • Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, $2,500
  • Homer Community Food Pantry, $2,850
  • Voznesenka Community Council, $2,500
  • Hospice of Homer, $799
  • Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, $2,500
  • Ninilchik Senior Center, $1,500
  • Ninilchik Community Library, $2,500
  • Alaska Coalition for Veterans and Military Families, $500
  • Homer High School, $2,500 

If you would like more information about the COVID-19 fund, you can go to our webpage here. 


Annual Report

Our year begins anew each July 1st, which means we are busily preparing our annual report, set to release at our Annual Meeting in November. This report is our most comprehensive outreach, including stories of impact from grant recipients and a list of all of our grant and scholarship recipients, updates from our committees, a financial review, and full list of our donors. If you would like to receive a copy of this report, contact the staff by replying to this email or calling us at 235-0541 to be added to our mailing list. 


August Quick Response Community Grants

Hospice of Homer has received funds to purchase new equipment such as ramps and wheelchair batteries. These will help them be able to expand their delivery options of their loaner medical equipment.

SPROUT has redesigned their IT Infrastructure to be able to accommodate working remotely as well as in person. This will serve them well into the future as well as now when they are preparing their fall programming. 

Homer Council on the Arts is preparing a new program, Art from the Heart. This program will work with school aged participants and pair them with elderly community members in a collaborative, innovative art project in the times of COVID-19.


Thank you Pick.Click.Give. Donors

Thank you to the 57 Alaskans who donated to the Homer Foundation through Pick.Click.Give. Because of your donations, we are able to support more non-profits in our community who are doing good close to home.

If you would like to join this group of donors, add the Homer Foundation to your charitable contribution through the Pick.Click.Give when applying for your PFD next year!


How you can help…
  • Make a donation today!
  • Commit to making that a monthly donation
  • Increase your annual gift
  • Donate as a business partner
  • Talk to your family about naming the Homer Foundation as a beneficiary through revocable planned giving.
  • Ask your employer to become a business partner.
  • Talk to your friends about why you give and encourage them to do the same

Social Media

Do you want to be sure you keep up with all of the Homer Foundation news, including weekly updates on our grants, funds, and community? Then be sure to like and follow us on Facebook or Instagram today!

Pay It Forward: Protecting our connection to nature

As I sit back and think about acts of kindness bestowed upon me throughout my life, I am so humbled. People are good. People care. People will be there for you in times of struggle. We are in challenging times right now. I frequently don’t recognize faces behind the masks. I can’t stop in to visit and hug an old friend. The simple things that we took for granted, shopping, school, appointments, social visits have become quite stressful, and for many non-existent. This isolation can be so debilitating. We are social creatures, social connection is essential to our wellbeing. It is at times like this that I return to the trails, to nature.

In 1987, I along with a fellow teacher, and 24 Homer Middle School students took on the goal of designing and building a trial system with fitness elements on the undeveloped borough land behind the school. The fitness elements have long since disappeared, but the trail system lives on. This in town trail with a short connection from the middle school trail to the Pratt Museum trail, is heavily used by locals in the area.

In the mid nineties, the spruce bark beetle infestation decimated the old growth forest throughout Homer. The habitat behind the school saw extensive damage as did the trail, but footsteps continued along the muddy remains. Over the years individuals connected to the school worked to bring life back to this trail, but the task was quite daunting. I stayed connected to these projects hoping to be able to contribute and have an impact. In 2016, a federally funded “Schoolyard Habitat” program was a much needed energy boost, but improvement efforts only scratched the surface. Sensing support within the school administration, I was able to secure a small pocket of school funding combined with a personable contribution, and hired out some major drainage work throughout this trail system. This work was critical for sustained success. But more important was the recruitment of retired teachers, present day teachers, a large number of community members and the HMS student body to volunteer some sweat equity. Over the years I estimate at least 200+ individuals have volunteered on this trail system alone. With a little bit of TLC, this trail system will sustain itself well into the future for our school students and community members to enjoy.

Why is this important? Kids need to be connected to nature. People need to be connected to nature. Countless studies show the importance of green space to countering trauma and distress. We are fortunate to live in Homer Alaska with it’s incredible beauty. We are blessed to have green space surrounding us. Our trails, our parks, and our gardens give us the connection to this green space, and today they are being utilized. But these spaces do not just happen. A healthy percentage of our community trails have been built by volunteers, and are maintained by volunteers who simply care and are willing to convert that into a little sweat equity. These volunteers see the benefit of green space and want to make sure that at some level we all have access to these community treasures. 

I am so appreciative and so humbled. Get out and get connected.

Deb Lowney, is a  longtime Homer resident, retired educator, artist, and a Parks, Art, Recreation, and Culture Advisory Commissioner for the City of Homer.

Planned Giving Webinar

Our lives are the sum of actions and relationships. Large and small, we have been shaped by those around us. What and who have you impacted in your life? There is a simple, but lasting way establish you legacy in the communities of the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

Make a planned gift.

We are hosting a free webinar on how to get started with planned giving. We will be joined by two guest presenters: attorneys Lindsay Wolter and Terri Spigelmyer. Both practice law with specific experience with bequests, estates, wills, and philanthropic giving. Then Mike Miller, our Executive Director, will finish the webinar with how the Homer Foundation can help you reach your philanthropic goals work in your planned giving. Go here to register, limited registrations available so don’t wait, reserve your spot today.

Pay it Forward: Communities take care of each other

As your community hospital, we have been taking extreme measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic and to expand our capacity to care for those in need. We would not be able to do this without the amazing show of support that we have received from the community. Since the pandemic started we have had to modify the way that we function and provide care. During this time of uncertainty the community has selflessly jumped in to help take care of us at the hospital and their neighbors in the community. This community pulls together in times of crisis, and people have rallied behind our healthcare workers, showing support and kindness during this crazy time. From the beginning, we received immediate offers of support, with folks calling to ask what we needed and how they could help us help the community. Dozens of volunteers spent hours behind sewing machines to make thousands of cloth masks, surgical caps and headbands. When personal protective gear was hard to find, we had construction companies, boat builders and local stores donating new masks and supplies for our team members on the front lines. Local restaurants provided meals for staff working long hours, sometimes sent by thoughtful community members, other times from the restaurants themselves, even though their business may have been slow. We received cards filled with kind words, local art, flowers and chocolates.

South Peninsula Hospital

As healthcare workers, we go into this line of work because we want to help people, to take care of our community when times are hard. We often see people while they are experiencing challenging or painful times in their lives. When the hospital was facing a challenge, the community reached out and took care of our team, knowing that our staff was working long hours, acknowledging that things have not been normal, being patient through all the changes in processes and procedures and being flexible with us when appointments or times needed to be shifted. It was not only the tangible donations but the gratitude and goodwill that we received. It is hard to convey how much a kind word or small show of appreciation can mean to someone during times of heightened stress. Your support always means a lot to the organization, but is especially comforting during these trying times.

So we want to pay forward your kindness right back to the community by expressing our heartfelt thank you to you, our community. We are humbled by the outpouring of care and generosity you have shown SPH. We are proud to be your neighbors and local hospital and healthcare team, and honored to take care of you and your family. Thank you for taking care of us during this confusing time; we are here for you.

Nyla Lightcap, Administrative Assistant and Donations Coordinator, COVID-19 Public Information Team

South Peninsula Hospital

Thank you Rasmuson and Alaska Community Foundations

We wanted to thank our most generous donors to our COVID-19 Response Fund, Rasmuson Foundation and Alaska Community Foundation, for your $10,000 gift to the Southern Kenai Peninsula. We were able to award 5 organizations, recognized by our COVID response committee with the largest need in our area, unrestricted grants. The organizations were the Homer Community Food Pantry, Homer Senior Citizens, Anchor Point Food Pantry, Anchor Point Senior Citizens, and Ninilchik Senior Citizens. We are so grateful to be able to provide this to our community!

Summer 2020 Newsletter

A Summer to Remember
Update from the Executive Director

There are certain times and seasons which stand out in our individual and collective memories. For better or worse, the summer of 2020 will be remembered for a long time; COVID-19 daily counts, social unrest sparked by a senseless and avoidable death, depressed economy, financial market difficulties. All of these are true, and we wish none of them had happened.

As justifiably upsetting as these things are, we want to focus on what else has happened during this pandemic. The Homer area raised over $130,000 to help our neighbors ($66,752 from the Church on the Rock, I Love Homer fund and $63,476 Homer Foundation, COVID-19 Response Fund). This figure doesn’t include the thousands of dollars given directly to non-profits helping those in need. Given the population of our area, that was an amazing out pouring of generosity.

While this season is far from being over, our community response was and is exemplary. Homer is a special community. Despite all the angst and worry, we set aside our differences; we step up and help our neighbor when the need arises.

Thank you for being caring and generous.

Thank you for being great neighbors. 

Thank you for giving close to home.

Sincerely,

Mike


Our COVID-19 Response

On March 25, 2020 the Board of Trustees created a new fund for the Homer Foundation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund is being used to support our local non-profits and the vital services they provide. Some of these organizations are already seeing huge impacts upon their programs, and these non-profits have already received at least one round of funding from us, including:

  • Anchor Point Senior Center, $4,200
  • Homer Senior Center, $4,750
  • Anchor Point Community Food Pantry, $7,000
  • South Peninsula Haven House, $2,500
  • Homer Farmers Market, $2,500
  • Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, $2,500
  • Homer Community Food Pantry, $2,850
  • Voznesenka Community Council, $2,500
  • Hospice of Homer, $799
  • Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, $2,500
  • Ninilchik Senior Center, $1,500

To date, we have funded all eligible requests. 

As the economic slowdown continues, as enhanced unemployment benefits and debt forgiveness run out, we know there will be more requests due to the impacts from this pandemic. This fund allows for flexibility for the agencies to apply as needed and for the Foundation to meet changing community needs. Right now, the focus for non-profits applying should be addressing basic needs including human services and emergency assistance or serving vulnerable populations. 

If you would like more information about the COVID-19 fund, you can go to our webpage here. 


New Fund Options

Big news from the Homer Foundation: the Board of Trustees has approved a new option for those who want to give back in the community with a timeline or project in mind. We now offer non-endowed fund options. This applies to all types of funds including donor advised, field of interest (including scholarship), and agency funds. This will allow donors and agencies a new and more flexible way to meet their philanthropic goals.

What is the difference between an endowed and non-endowed fund?

In an endowed fund the donation is invested and never spent. The Foundation makes the income available to grant yearly awards to the charity or cause in line with or donor’s intent. Because the capital is never touched, an endowment can continue making an impact indefinitely.

A non-endowed fund may use the initial donation as well as any interest and earnings, to support a charitable purpose that the donor has chosen. A non endowed fund can have a greater impact sooner, with a specific timeline or project in mind, but it is finite. When all of the capital and earnings have been disbursed through grants or scholarships, the fund ceases to exist.

Endowed or Non-endowed: Which is right for me? 

Either fund can produce an abundance of good in the community. The primary difference between an endowed fund and a non-endowed fund is the permanency. If that is one of your giving goals, then an endowed fund is the best choice. If you are more interested in a finite period of giving, or not sure if you’re ready to create a permanent fund, then a non-endowed fund may be the right choice. Many non-endowed funds are later converted to endowed.  Here are some thoughts on fund type: 

  • Choosing an endowed fund
    • Creating an endowment is like planting a tree that will provide fruit for every season for years to come. An endowed fund offers a way for donors to fund a cause or organization they believe in, forever. Permanent gifts provide peace of mind knowing that the community issues and organizations you care deeply about will be funded on a regular and sustainable basis, both now and long after the donor is gone.
    • Donors recognize that endowments are particularly important when lean economic times hit, as they provide a base of funding that may allow the Homer Foundation to support community issues, even when annual donations are scarce. This is a way to support an organization’s work indefinitely.
  •  Choosing a non-endowed fund
    • Many donors are motivated to give during their lifetime but are not seeking perpetuity. These donors may want to see the results of their gift.  A non-endowed fund enables you to be responsive to immediate community needs with the full value of the fund.

Want to know more about non-endowed funds or the Homer Foundation? Drop me an email at mikemiller@homerfoundation.org, call  907-235-0541 or just swing by the office at 3733 Ben Walters Lane in Homer. 


2020 Summer Picnic- COVID Style

The Homer Foundation has come to the hard decision to cancel our traditional summer picnic. Our picnic is usually held in July and is an informal event held by the board to thank our donors and fund advisors. Due to the uncertainty and health risks associated with group gatherings, and following the recommendations from the CDC and DHSS, we have decided to change the format of our gratitude. The board is still working on the details but we will be sure to let all of our donors know our appreciation in a COVID-safe manner. 


Zero Interest Loan Option

Bridge Loan doubled from $5,000 to $10,000. More flexibility allowed. The Foundation has always had a 0% loan program for non-profit organizations with a $5,000 cap. This program is for non-profits experiencing a short-term cash flow issue. Due to general inflation since this was first enacted years ago, the Board of Trustees felt like a change in amount was necessary for our community and also gave itself leeway to both extend the traditional 60-day payback time frame and/or make some of or the entire loan forgivable if the situation warrants extraordinary action. Contact the staff if you have any questions about this program.


Quick Response Grant Updates

We have had a few organizations come to us with requests for help to change their programming in these COVID-19 times. Here are three examples of ways we are supporting our community with these transitions:

Friends of the Homer Public Library requested support for their Summer Reading Program

Center For Alaskan Coastal Studies has received $3,000 to help change their youth programs.

Pratt Museum has created a new position to help transition their summer programs into a digital format.


Other Grant Programs: Scholarships and YAC 2020

We are pleased to announce the 2020 scholarship recipients:


• Alain and Daniel Rieser Scholarship- Anthony Melkomukov, $3,000
• Beluga Tail Non-Fiction Writing Scholarship- Ruby Allen, $3,000, and Anthony Melkomukov, $3,000
• Health Care Providers Scholarship- Megan Kirsis, $3,000, Ruby Allen, $1,000, and Amber Bridgeman, $1,000
• Homer Community Science Scholarship- Ruby Allen, $1,250, Abigail Middleton, $1,000, and Rio Shemet Pitcher, $750
• Nikki Geragotelis (Fry) Memorial Scholarship- Colby Marion, $5,000, and Abigail Middleton, $1,000
• Sutton James Miller Memorial Scholarship- Anthony Melkomukov, $1,000
• Kachemak Bay Medical Clinic Scholarship- Autumn Carlson, $2,000
• Fish & Wildlife Scholarship- Autumn Carlson, $2000
• Nursing Studies Scholarship- Annali Metz, $1,500
• Drew Scalzi Memorial Maritime Scholarship- Jacob Clark, $1,000, and Amber Bridgeman, $1,000
• Heather Pancratz Memorial Scholarhsip- Sophia Klaich, $500, and Zachary Trail, $500

We are proud to support these students with a total of $32,500 awarded in scholarships this year. Way to go class of 2020!

For more information about our scholarship process, click here. 

The Homer Foundation Youth Advisory Committee is pleased to announce the following recipients of our annual YAC grants that support fun and healthy activities for youth in our community: Homer Hockey Association to purchase new gear for the Microbell program, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services to support the summer ReAKtion Club, Soccer Association of Homer for underwriting SPARC rental fees for youth activities, and Homer High School Student Council to support travel expenses to the AASG Fall Conference.

For more information about our scholarship process, click here.


How you can help…
  • Make a donation today!
  • Commit to making that a monthly donation
  • Increase your annual gift
  • Donate as a business partner
  • Talk to your family about naming the Homer Foundation as a beneficiary through revocable planned giving.
  • Ask your employer to become a business partner.
  • Talk to your friends about why you give and encourage them to do the same

Social Media

Do you want to be sure you keep up with all of the Homer Foundation news, including weekly updates on our grants, funds, and community? Then be sure to like and follow us on Facebook or Instagram today!


Legacy Corner

Did you know it is easy to leave a legacy for your community?

Wills, Bequests and Living Trusts

If you are looking to leave the legacy gift via a Homer Foundation fund in your will, you are able to do so by adding as little as one sentence in your will to complete your gift:

“I give to the Homer Foundation of Homer, Alaska, Tax ID #92-0139183 (all, or __ percent of) the rest, residue and remainder of my estate for its general purposes.”

You can also be specific to a fund for a cause (arts, children, hunger, environment, etc). You can even specify a particular nonprofit agency. For more options, please click here for sample bequest language to be included in your will or other estate documents.

This type of donation in your will or living trust helps to ensure that we are able to sustain the issues you cared about in your life for years to come.

Beneficiary Designations

Another simple way to leave a legacy is through life insurance. By designating the Homer Foundation (or a particular cause or fund) as the beneficiary of the policy.

A beneficiary designation can be in:

  • IRAs and retirement plans
  • Life insurance policies
  • Other Donor-Advised Funds

It takes three simple steps to make this type of gift. Here is how to name the Homer Foundation as a beneficiary:

1.   Contact your retirement plan administrator, insurance company, bank or financial institution for a change-of-beneficiary form.

2.   Decide what percentage (1% to 100%) you would like us to receive and name us, along with the percentage you chose, on the beneficiary form.

3.   Return the completed form to your plan administrator, insurance company, bank or financial institution.


Foreign Exchange Experience leads to a more open mind

Bonjour ! Or, in English, hello!

From left: Flo Larson, Sophie Samuseau, her son, and Peter Larson.

Sitting in my garden, during this quarantine due to Covid-19, I took time to look back over my life and especially to think about all the travels I did and the exchange student experience I had when I was 18. 

First of all, let me introduce myself: I am Sophie, born on the 22 of June 1969. I spent a year in Homer as AFS foreign exchange student from July 1987 till end of June 1988. Some of you might have met me at this time. This year in Homer has greatly enriched me and contributed to the person I am today.

I first stayed with Diane and Tony Borgman, then some time with the Marleys and, finally, with Florence and Peter Larson. 

I was a senior in HHS, along with Keiiche Homna from Theshio, Japan (Homer’s Sister city) and Nariman Movaffagh, who was a political refugee from Iran.

Prior to that year in Homer as an exchange student, I had however already lived a year out of France when I was a teenager. My father was hired in Gabon, Africa. He took his whole family with him and I thus lived there almost one year. I would not totally compare this year spent in Africa with the year spent in Homer, as Gabon is a French- speaking country and I was there with my parents. But, to me, this year in Africa was my first experience to get to discover other cultures and to always keep my mind open.  

My year in Homer as an exchange student had a deep impact on me. Not only did I have to adapt to a different culture but I also became my host families’ daughter. I do not believe that many people can pretend they have three or four families. I am, furthermore, very fortunate to still be in contact with my “parents” from Homer and proud that they consider me as their “French daughter”. I am even happier that I came to Homer in August 2011 with my son, who was 9 years old to show him a part of the world and to get him to meet my hosting families, while seeing the place where I stayed at the age of 18. He just loved it and keeps on telling me, even 9 years after, that this is one of his best travel memories. 

After my year in Homer, I have since managed to either work in an international environment, or to meet people from other places by having a bed and breakfast activity at my house, or to travel to many foreign countries, always picking one where I have never been before. No matter if it is a short stay, my goal of being in the country is to live like the locals do; to feel the differences between their culture and mine and to not judge people because they do not act like me. This, to me, is one of the key beliefs that I learned through my experience.

And I will keep on acting this way as long as I can. Every time I get the chance to meet various people, it enables me the chance to learn about new and different habits and to better understand other cultures. I wish to always be able to go over prejudices, and, moreover, to fight them. 

Sophie

Sophie Samuzeau works at a cognac distillery and runs a bed and breakfast in Cognac, France.

2020 YAC Grants Awarded

What an unusual experience it was for our Youth Advisory Committee this school year. Our YAC participants were members of the Homer Middle School National Junior Honor Society – seventeen highly committed, capable, and eager eighth grade students. As NJHS members, they imagined school spirit activities and community volunteer projects they would accomplish during the second half of the school year, nearly all of which were interrupted by the sudden closure of the school in March. Nevertheless, thanks to Zoom, the kids were able to fulfill their requirements as youth advisors to the Homer Foundation.

Youth Advisory Committee

The Homer Foundation Youth Advisory Committee is pleased to announce the following recipients of our annual YAC grants that support fun and healthy activities for youth in our community: Homer Hockey Association to purchase new gear for the Microbell program, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services to support the summer ReAKtion Club, Soccer Association of Homer for underwriting SPARC rental fees for youth activities, and Homer High School Student Council to support travel expenses to the AASG Fall Conference.

More than ever, the dedication of our members this spring demonstrated how empowering it is for youth to be offered the opportunity to make impactful decisions for their community. I wish you could have overheard the kids as they discussed and debated the merits of each grant application in their Zoom breakout rooms. They listened, they learned, they compromised, and in the end, they came together and made thoughtful and careful decisions. Our YAC members handled their responsibilities with maturity far beyond their years. They were determined, despite their separation and isolation, to come together as a positive force our community.

Bonnie Jason, Homer Foundation YAC Advisor

We appreciate our donors, who have confidence in our ability to make thoughtful decisions. Thank you to Dave and Beth Schroer, Elaine Grantier, Shirley Fedora, the donors to the Ashley J. Logan fund, and to Robert and Melon Purcell, who established the Sheldon Youth to Youth Fund to help support YAC’s efforts.

The generosity of these individuals, as well as the support of the Homer Foundation Board of Trustees and staff, enabled YAC to distribute a total of $5,000.00 this year.

2020 Homer Foundation Scholarships

$32,500 Awarded to Area Students

The Homer Foundation has awarded nineteen scholarships totaling $32,500 to 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. Since the Foundation began administering scholarships in 2000, it has awarded 289 individual scholarships totaling $335,990.

“These scholarships have value well beyond the monetary. It also sends the important message to each recipient and their family: ‘You have a future and we believe in you. ”

said Homer Foundation Executive Director Mike Miller

The success of the Foundation’s scholarship program depends on our school counselors, like Homer High School counselor Paul Story and staff who are on the front line, connecting students to scholarship applications, 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 endowed 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 68 funds managed by the Foundation, are appreciated and put to work in our community. Contact Mike Miller for more information: mikemiller@homerfoundation.org

Congratulations to the 2020 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: Ruby Allen, $1,250, Abigail Middleton, $1,000, and Rio Shemet Pitcher, $750

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. 

Anthony Melkomukov, Homer High School, $3,000

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.

Jacob Clark, Ninilchik School $1,000, and Amber Bridgeman, Kenai Peninsula College $1,000

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: Megan Kirsis, class of 2016, $3,000 and Ruby Allen, class 2020, $1,000

Kenai Peninsula College, Kachemak Bay Campus student: Amber Bridgeman, $1,000

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

Homer High School Students: Ruby Allen, $3,000, and Anthony Melkomukov, $3,000

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. 

Autumn Carlson, Homer Flex School, $2,000

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: Colby Marion, $5,000, and Abigail Middleton, $1,000

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.

Nikoleavsk School students: Sophia Klaich, $500, and Zachary Trail, $500

Sutton James Miller Memorial Scholarship:  This scholarship was established in the memory of Sutton James Miller, of Homer, Alaska. In his short 6 months on the Earth, he showed a willingness to strive to learn new skills, excelled greatly in all areas of development, had an amazing love for people around him, and a standout attitude, which made an everlasting impression on those who met him. Everyone’s life was touched by his standout presence, and remembers his giggle, sparkle in his blue eyes, as well as his heart-melting smile. Sutton James’ name will forever live in the Homer community, via this scholarship, becoming an everlasting legacy where he will give a graduating senior a head start in their next step in furthering their education. Candidates show ambition, giving their absolute best while staying positive, have a passion for life, and show strength while pursuing their best life. This scholarship may be used at a 4 year, 2 year or vocational school within Alaska.

Anthony Melkomukov, Homer High School, $1,000

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.

Autumn Carlson, Homer Flex School, $2,000

Nursing Studies Scholarship:  This scholarship was established to celebrate the memory of Eileen Albert. Eileen was a nurse throughout her life in Alaska, primarily as a school nurse practitioner, as well as a mentor within her field. This scholarship is intended to honor her love of nursing and to support students who are seeking this profession.

Annali Metz, University of Alaska Anchorage, $1,500