Grant Awarded to Support Blue Ice project

The Homer Foundation recently funded a grant to support the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra’s Youth String Orchestra Club for a wonderful project created by John Bushell, that included John’s original music score performed by members of HYSOC under the direction of Daniel Perry, and a very memorable hike to perform the piece in the presence of a glacier! The resulting video, “Blue Ice” will be aired at the Homer Foundation’s annual meeting on November 15th. The following is a letter of appreciation from Mr. Bushell:

I am so grateful for yours and the Homer Foundation’s support of our project, Blue Ice.  The funds were just right, the timeline worked well and, most importantly, the lives of some young people in Homer were moved. Blue Ice has turned out to be a wonderful community project involving young musicians, their families and a good number of local businesses and organizations.

The video’s credits thank The Homer Foundation, Pratt Museum, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, Mako’s Water Taxi, Kachemak Bay State Park, Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and numerous individuals.

We begin promoting Blue Ice this week with thank yous to the papers, social media announcements and as much sharing of the link as possible.


John, Johnny B., Bushell

Enjoy….. here is link to “Blue Ice”

$21,550 Awarded to Area Students

The Homer Foundation has awarded eighteen scholarships totaling $21,550 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. Notably Homer High School counselor Lin Hampson who was on the front line, connecting students to scholarship applications. HF office volunteers Jane and Elaine processed packets for each of the review committees. The 30+ volunteers, who made up those committees, shared their time and expertise to read and rate applications, assuring a fair and equitable selection process.
Congratulations to the 2017 recipients(all students are Homer High School graduates except where notated):

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.
Annali Metz $750
Katie Shank $500
Alain and Daniel Rieser Scholarship:  established in memory of Alain and Daniel Rieser, it recognizes a HHS graduating senior with a flair for foreign language and an interest in foreign cultures.
Juan Sarmiento $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.
Megan Pitzman $1000
Sarah Fellows $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.
Katie Shank $1000
Annali Metz $1000
Aziza Shemet Pitcher $2000 (2016 HHS graduate)
Beluga Tail Non-Fiction Writing Scholarship: rewards graduating seniors that demonstrate exemplary skills in non-fiction writing.
Juan Sarmiento $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.
Katie Shank $2000
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.
Audrey Rosencrans $1500
Koby Etzwiler (11th grade) $250
Maggie Box (11th grade) $250
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 and hard-working nature, giving their best every time they step on the field whether at practice or for a game.
Mary Hana Bowe $1000
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.
Johanna Allen $800
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 willing 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.
Valerie Rios $1000
Remi Nagel $500

Because of the donors who had the vision to establish these scholarships as permanent endowments, and the community members that continue to support them, these funds will be here to support the education of our youth in perpetuity. Tax exempt donations to support scholarships, or any of the 56 funds managed by the Foundation, are appreciated and put to work in our community. Contact Joy Steward for more information:

International Pay It Forward Day

Friday, April 28th is International Pay It Forward Day, an annual day of giving celebrated around the world since 2007. It’s a global initiative to spread kindness through small acts of generosity. With more than eighty countries and millions of people participating, the goal is to change the world for the better – one person and one small act of kindness at a time.
I’m lucky to work at a place where I’m surrounded by small acts of kindness each and every day. With high-fives handed out between classes, and smiles offered to their teachers, the students at Homer Middle School have created a culture in which caring is cool.
One unforgettable act of kindness happened here this past Valentine’s Day. An anonymous family donated a red rose to each middle school girl. Attached to the rose was a beautiful card containing a thoughtful poem. With the help of our principal, the roses were quietly hidden inside each girl’s locker where they were discovered, amongst shrieks and gasps and tears, early Valentine’s Day morning.
Girls crowded together admiring one another’s flowers. Some girls clutched their roses throughout the entire day. Others tucked their cards into pockets to take out and read time and time again. They took such care of their gifts that when the hallways cleared at the end of the day, there wasn’t a single fallen petal. The joy that filled our school that day was palpable.
I’m often caught off guard by students’ spontaneous acts of kindness, such as one that occurred recently in my PE class. It was the first day of a rollerblading unit, and I was rapidly approaching my wit’s ends. As I frantically adjusted helmets, strapped up mismatched kneepads, and buckled skates, a boy seated on a nearby bench waved me over.
“I can’t get up,” he groaned. I lugged him onto his wobbly feet. But now what? I had twenty-four other students to supervise and didn’t dare turn my back to them while steadying this one unstable boy. I looked around in desperation and saw, tucked into the corner, several large cafeteria garbage cans on wheels.
“Just lean forward,” I instructed him as I transferred his shaking hands to the edge of a can, “and push out with your feet.”
It wasn’t until I rolled him away and watched him floundering over the garbage container that I stopped for a moment to think. Twenty-four students were flying in circles around the gym, and one unfortunate child was stuck in the middle awkwardly suspended over a giant, florescent yellow garbage can. I had unintentionally made a spectacle of him, and set him up for ridicule.
Nervously, I looked on as a rather impetuous and athletic boy zoomed past my garbage can-wielding friend. The boy looked over his shoulder and laughed, and then pulled an abrupt U-turn. As I warily approached, the boy latched onto the far side of the container. “Hey,” he said nonchalantly to the wide-eyed face balancing above the garbage, “do you think I could practice skating backwards while you push forwards?”
I watched with astonishment as the two wobbled away. Instantly, kids began pulling out the other garbage cans, and within moments, six gigantic yellow containers were paraded in laps around the gym. Kids laughed and called out turns as they paired up to practice skating together.
Stories about public school bullies make the headlines. But the real news is quieter and kinder, and it’s happening all around me at Homer Middle School. Every day I witness kids supporting and comforting each other. I see students offering forgiveness and friendship, smiles and encouragement.
Pay It Forward Day is every day at each of the schools in Homer. Our schools are filled with kids and adults who are working to make the world a better place. Sometimes, amongst all the noise and confusion, it’s hard to focus on the little acts of kindness. But they happen all around me.
So, tomorrow I’ll join the millions of people around the world who will participate in International Pay It Forward Day. I haven’t yet decided just how I’ll contribute, but it’s easy to imagine what a better world this would be if we all took a tip from the kids at Homer Middle School and simply handed out high-fives in the hallways.

Bonnie Jason is a teacher at Homer Middle School and a Homer Foundation trustee since 2003.

Artist Selected for The Giving Salmon

Anchorage artist Christina Demetro works on a maquette of The Giving Salmon, the Homer Foundation’s 25th anniversary gift to the community.

The Homer Foundation recently celebrated 25 years of creating community philanthropy. To commemorate this milestone the Foundation selected artist Christina Demetro to sculpt a six-foot bronze sculpture called The Giving Salmon. The Giving Salmon will be located in front of the new Boat House Pavilion. Created to be interactive, the public will be able to “feed” the Giving Salmon by making donations into the Chinook’s mouth. The donations will benefit the community through the Homer Foundation, bringing awareness to the cycle of giving.

Christina was selected through Call for Entry, an online call management system. According to Homer Foundation executive director Joy Steward, “Twenty-nine proposals were received from around the country; we were gratified by the number of strong Alaskan applicants. Christina rose to the top through her strong resume, design, and the desire to use her art to build community through the sculpture process.”

Like the Homer Foundation, Christina has a similar anniversary–25 years of sculpting.
She first apprenticed with her father, sculptor Jim Demetro, on a public sculpture called Mother Bathing Child when she was 19. After a decade as an assistant sculptor, Christina started creating her own bronze public pieces, as well as continuing co-creations with her father and local residents.

Among other projects, Christina and her father had over 1,300 citizens in Vancouver, WA, join in the creation of the city’s namesake statue. In Puerto Vallarta school children recently helped co-sculpt a burro statue, and in Anchorage a humpback whale peace symbol sculpture. In a bi-partisan effort, the father-daughter team also created four Spirit of America statues for a 9/11 memorial.

Christina says, “I delight in the viewer enjoying the discovery and interaction of a piece and, in a lot of cases, the exploration of co-creating the sculpture out of clay or wax before it’s cast in bronze.” Slated for a mid-September installation, keep a look out for locations around Homer where you and your family can join Christina to help sculpt The Giving Salmon in the coming months.

Her heart in Homer, Christina lives in Anchorage with her husband Eric, whose talent for making stringed instruments fills her work studio with live music. She says of Homer, “I’m excited to facilitate this sculpture’s creation with such an artistic community. No matter whether you call yourself an artist or not, I extend a warm welcome to come sculpt with us.”

Pick.Click. and Give Where You Live

With a new year upon us, we mark a new season of Pick.Click.Give., the charitable check off program that allows all Alaska Permanent Fund filers to give back to causes that they care most about. It is hard to find an easier way to pay it forward. Pick.Click.Give. also provides an unprecedented opportunity to raise the level of awareness throughout Alaska about the power of individual giving, to increase the number of new donors, and to expand giving options for existing donors.

Over 171 deserving nonprofits qualify for the Pick.Click.Give. program statewide. This year I would like to encourage you to consider giving where you live by narrowing your focus to the nonprofit organizations that work to make our communities here on the southern Kenai Peninsula stronger, healthier, more livable.

A quick search of organizations on the website indicates over two dozen organizations serving our area. Whether you feel most strongly about Arts & Culture (Anchor Point Library, Bunnell Street Arts Center, Friends of the Homer Public Library, Homer Council on the Arts, KBBI Public Radio, Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, Ninilchik Community Library, Pratt Museum, Seldovia Public Library), Education (University of Alaska, Kachemak Bay Branch), Health & Social Services (Big Brothers Big Sisters, Haven House, Homer Food Pantry, Homer Senior Citizens, Hospice of Homer, Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, Ninilchik Emergency Services, Ninilchik Senior Center, South Peninsula Hospital Foundation), Conservation & Environment (Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Cook Inletkeeper, Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust), Animal Welfare (Homer Animal Friends, Sports & Recreation (Homer Hockey Association, HoWL), or Community Philanthropy (Homer Foundation), you will find an organization whose mission aligns with your interests. Or perhaps you have several interests you would like to support? The Pick.Click.Give. program makes it easy to give a little or give a lot to one, or to many, organizations.

As an executive director of one of the qualifying nonprofits I am so gratified to see the names of individuals who have chosen to share their PFD with us each year, and even more so when I recognize that some are using Pick.Click.Give. as a way to introduce their children to the idea of paying it forward. After nine years of the program I have seen some of those children grown and off to college, now choosing to give to the community that gave so much to them.

If you have not filed for your PFD and supported your favorite local nonprofit through Pick.Click.Give. you have until March 31st to do so. If you have already filed you can still add to or change your Pick.Click.Give. selections through August 31st.

The Pick.Click.Give. data indicates that most Alaskans file for their PFD in the first few weeks. Numbers of individuals choosing to Pick.Click.Give. are down for the same period in previous years. Participants are pointing to the State’s economic downturn and the uncertainty around changes to the PFD. The State’s economic woes are real, and the impact will hit hardest on the most vulnerable among us. This alone should galvanize our decision to dig a little deeper and give more where we can. If you need more incentive the Alaska Community Foundation is sponsoring the Double Your Dividend 2017 Sweepstakes that will award five lucky Alaskans who share part of their PFD through Pick.Click.Give. an extra dividend in addition to awarding a dividend to the nonprofit of their choice.
Whatever your reason, the chance to double your dividend, teach your children about giving, or supporting the causes you care most about, Alaska’s unique Pick.Click.Give. program is a safe, easy, fun way to achieve that goal.

Joy Steward
Joy is the executive director of the Homer Foundation and is excited by all of the ways we each find to build community.

2016 Homer Foundation Annual Meeting

Please Join Us!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bunnell Street Arts Center
106 West Bunnell St.
Meet & Greet, Refreshments:  5:30 pm
Meeting: 6:00 pm
Music by Homer Youth String Orchestra Trio

Annual Report, Board Appointments Investment, Grant and & YAC Reports People’s Choice Grant Awards

Enter your favorite Homer nonprofit for a

CHANCE TO WIN $250 People’s Choice Award

For more information:  907.235.0541

Call for Entry

Calling all artists! The Homer Foundation is requesting proposals from artists for a larger-than-life sized bronze salmon sculpture, The Giving Salmon. The Giving Salmon will be located on the grounds of the new Boat House Pavilion, a marine-inspired covered pavilion which will stand where the former Harbor Master’s office was located on the Homer Spit.

cafe-logoInterested artists should apply online.  Deadline to apply is November 15, 2016 with a

The sculpture will commemorate the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary and will be a permanent gift to the community, a  beautiful piece of public art that will help increase the Foundation’s visibility, capture donations from visitors, and build awareness of the vibrant non-profit community that helps Homer flourish as a world-class location for both living and visiting. All donations deposited into The Giving Salmon will be distributed through the Foundation’s year-round grants program.

Donors wishing to support the creation of The Giving Salmon  will be recognized on a brass plaque adjacent to the sculpture.  For more information  regarding this opportunity call the Homer Foundation, 907-235-0541.

Making Your Will Seminar Oct. 8th

The Homer Foundation is supporting a complimentary MAKING YOUR WILL seminar hosted by the Kachemak Bay Campus on Saturday, October 8th from 12-1:30pm. Join Homer attorney Lindsay Wolter and UAA Director of Gift Planning Harry Need for this informative session. Lunch provided. Register by calling the College at 907-235-7743.

Pay It Forward

Homer Foundation pays it forward by giving $2.5 million in 25 years

Posted in the Homer News: April 28, 2016

By Shannon McBride–Morin

Walking with 25 kids over to the Pratt Museum the other day in the sun, I was feeling grateful that I got to go along as a parent chaperone.

Fifth-graders with spring fever were skipping ahead of me along the dusty sidewalk, 10- and 11-year-olds without any coats on an Alaska spring day. I was reminded of how amazing it is that we can walk from school to our great museum for a fun, easy and totally educational field trip.  Lucky kids! Our community supports this, and it adds to our kids’ sense of place and quality of life.

A friend new to Homer recently said, “Kids here have the best field trips ever.” My girls, along with thousands of local youth over the years, get to participate in outings to the beach for tide-pooling and beach cleanups, walk to Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for Discovery Labs and explorations. Volunteers, teachers and educators make this happen. A giving community makes this happen.

There are field trips to the Pratt Museum and the Homer Public Library, the Wynn Nature Center and Beluga Slough.  Our kids go “up the road” and learn about the salmon life cycle on the Anchor River. They go to the pool to learn to swim. They visit the Fire Hall and Karen Hornaday Park.

For the past 30-plus years groups of fourth grade kids boat across Kachemak Bay for three days of outdoor education camps at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and at our family’s Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge.

We have a community that gives back. We are a place that cares about our kids, about education and the outdoors, about art and about each other. We are part of a town that cares for our neighbors and those in need. I am thankful that many before me, and so many now, are giving back to our community.

I recently learned more about the Homer Foundation and how they connect generosity to community need. I was blown away to find out how much it supports great local programs. Did you know it has given more than $2.5 million in the last 25 years? That’s a lot for small town Alaska.

It helps not only with amazing field trips to educate our youth, but with everything from the Homer Community Food Pantry to Cook Inletkeeper; from supporting Haven House to dozens of local sports and athletics; from Public Radio to Share the Spirit; from Head Start to Hospice of Homer; from the Homer Playground Project to Artists in the Schools. This all represents a community that cares, and cares for those in need.

Did you know that its first year the Homer Foundation gave away a handful of tiny grants totaling $1,000? Now, in its 25th year, the Homer Foundation has given away $140,000 in local grants. Pretty cool. That money directly supports our quality of life.

The Homer Foundation makes it easy for people to give back. Over the years, about 150 different organizations and programs that many of us benefit from have been funded. And it’s given over 150 scholarships to area youth. Giving back to the community is at the heart of the Homer Foundation.

It says a lot about our little town that the very first community foundation in Alaska was created right here 25 years ago. It says a lot about our community’s ability to pull together and build for our future “for good, forever.” I like that concept.

And I see the impact every day right here in town of paying if forward. In this time of harsh budget cuts, local giving and volunteering goes such a long way and has a huge positive impact. It feels good to give back.

I am grateful for the 25 or so kiddos, skipping back to school from yet another awesome field trip. And I am thankful for 25 years of giving by the Homer Foundation, and for the $2.5 million that it has given right here to support our kids and our entire community.

Shannon McBride-Morin was born and raised in China Poot Bay and Homer. After living Outside for college and career, she moved home to raise her family with her husband Chris. She is a wilderness guide and captain, and manages the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge — in addition to volunteering with the coolest kids on the best ever field trips. 


Pick.Click.Give. For Alaska

By Nina Kemppel, CEO & President, Alaska Community Foundation

This article was originally published by the Alaska Dispatch News on March 18th, 2016.

The next several days are critical for hundreds of nonprofits across Alaska.

Why? As we approach to the March 31st deadline to file for your Permanent Fund Dividend, we move closer to the time most Alaskans will Pick.Click.Give to organizations that serve critical needs here in Alaska.

Whether your interests are in the performing arts, education, outdoor recreation, health, or animal welfare, Pick.Click.Give. has a cause you care about. Time is running out to support a worthy nonprofit of your choosing. Many Alaskans choose to donate a portion of their Alaska Permanent Fund to help a cause they care about and help support these nonprofit organizations that serve our local communities. In a time of economic uncertainty in Alaska, what may seem like a small donation to you, adds up to make a big difference. When we partner together, all the gifts made through Pick.Click.Give. go a long way to help strengthen our communities and the nonprofits who serve them.

Since Pick.Click.Give. began in 2009, the program has grown steadily, breaking records each year for the total amount raised.

Last year, Alaskans showed their kindness and donated $3.3 million through Pick.Click.Give. to support nonprofits across the state. And since its inception, Alaskans have pledged more than $13.7 million to Alaska’s nonprofits through Pick.Click.Give. In the eight years of the Pick.Click.Give. program, Alaskans have seen the need and responded in a big way and with a big heart. We thank you for the overwhelming support and generosity.

This year, we’ve seen the participation rate dip slightly from the record high of 2015. Perhaps uncertainty surrounding the future of the Permanent Fund Dividend or the ongoing discussions regarding how to bridge our state’s budget deficit have made some people hesitant to commit a part of our annual check.

But as we head towards the deadline we can change that trend and show that we’re a caring community even when times get tough. The final two weeks of March are the most critical to the nonprofit participants of the Pick.Click.Give. campaign. The last few years have shown us that many pledges are received in the last half of March.

Haven’t filed for your PFD yet? You’re not alone! Last year, 18% of total giving occurred during the last two weeks of March. If you have already filed this year but forgot to Pick.Click.Give., you can still log back in and make a donation to a cause you care about. In fact, your gift could go even further this year. The Alaska Community Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation are offering three $5,000 bonuses to the top participating nonprofits who increase their donations from the previous year as well as providing a $1,000 bonus to the new nonprofit that raises the most donations in this year’s Pick.Click.Give. program.

If you look through the 2016 list of the 640 Alaskan nonprofits involved with Pick.Click.Give., you’ll see food banks, soup kitchens, shelters and rescue missions. These groups work with the most vulnerable of our populations: those with basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. But Pick.Click.Give. is more than that. Some participating nonprofits encourage involvement in the arts; others, outdoor recreation. Some connect our cities and villages through the public radio network. Others have missions to rescue and find homes for our beloved pets. Some groups support education for our children.

These nonprofit groups make our Alaskan communities more vibrant, engaging, and caring places for residents. Our winters would seem longer and our summers less dynamic without these nonprofits and their efforts to improve where we live.

While there is uncertainty around the future of the PFD, one thing is certain, even in difficult times Alaskans can be counted on to be good neighbors. If you have a favorite local nonprofit group, there’s a good chance you can donate to them as one of the 640 nonprofits in the Pick.Click.Give. program. We urge you to look at the list of participating organizations listed on and personally invest in enhancing the nonprofits across our state. Please join us and the tens of thousands of Alaskans who donate a part of their PFD through Pick.Click.Give. to make a meaningful and lasting difference in our communities.