Homer Foundation 30 years logo.

Foundation has a history of literature, arts and music donations

Foundation’s largest donation was to the Homer Public Library.

  • By Tom Kizzia For the Homer Foundation
  • Wednesday, September 1, 2021 2:30am
  • CommunityFeatures

Another in a series of short historical reminiscences to mark the 30th anniversary of the Homer Foundation, Alaska’s first community foundation. The series has been produced by the foundation and written by board member Tom Kizzia.

In 2003, Alaska’s first community foundation made a statewide splash with a decision to donate $50,000 to the effort to build a new public library in Homer. The ambitious library project was being put together with a minimum of public funds, at a time of government budget cuts. The Homer Foundation had never granted anything close to that much money, and didn’t, in fact, have money like that sitting around. But board members thought it was worth making an extra effort — and agreed to reach into their own pockets to help reach the goal.

The major small-town commitment made a big impression on the statewide Rasmuson Foundation, established with the family fortune behind the National Bank of Alaska. Rasmuson wound up donating $1.4 million to the new Homer library. And in 2005, the Rasmuson Foundation came to Homer to celebrate its 50th anniversary and gave a $50,000 unrestricted gift to the Homer Foundation. The new library opened in 2006.

Support for reading and writing projects have continued to attract attention from the Homer Foundation. In 2004, the largest-ever single Homer donation to date — an anonymous gift of $153,888 — established the Tin Roof Fund, which provides two $3,000 creative writing scholarships every year to high school graduates. That donation included a $50,000 gift to the library project fund.

The foundation launched its own literary endeavor around the same time, publishing the first and only photo book of the Kachemak Bay area, which included short essays from local writers Tom Bodett (one of the foundation’s original donors), Nancy Lord, Tom Kizzia, Sharon Bushell, Janet Klein and Eva Saulitis. The 2005 book has raised thousands of dollars for the foundation, with a second edition coming out in 2016.

Even more than reading and writing, music has been an object of love for donors to the Homer Foundation —not surprisingly, considering that one of the board’s original incorporators was piano teacher and local arts maven Mary Epperson.

Grants to provide music and instruments for local bands and orchestras have been made nearly every year. The foundation has provided funds for purchase of tiny violins for elementary students, part of a community-wide stringed instrument initiative. Other grants from music-oriented funds have helped stage community performances of the Mozart Requiem and Carmina Burana.

One unusual musical project supported with several thousand dollars was the Paul Banks Songbook, a publication of the music of the beloved Homer school custodian who played piano for student shows and had an elementary school named for him in 1981, seven years before his death.

In 2002, the foundation board gained a strong personal advocate for music in Renda Horn, a music teacher, musician and vocalist. Horn was involved in organizing memorably named performance groups, including the community band Inlet Winds and the Mud Bay Madrigal Society.

After Horn died in a 2009 plane crash, her taste for quirky names lived on. A “field of interest” fund created in her honor at the foundation was named the Horn Section. Also living on was her desire to support local musical endeavors, as the Horn Section has been a major source of funding for the Homer Youth String Orchestra and the umbrella K-12 string-based music programs of Homer OPUS.

More in Community

The masthead for the Homer Weekly News.
Years Ago

Homer happenings from years past

Homer High School. (Homer News file photo)
School announcements

School district risk level update and upcoming events

Homer writer Richard Chiappone. (Photo by Joshua Veldstra)
‘Hunger of Crows’ perfect for winter reading

Chiappone’s first novel is set in Homer, Anchor Point.

A scene of the Grinch who stole Christmas lights up the yard of a home along Bear Creek Drive on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 in Kachemak City, Alaska. In place of the annual garden of lights, Bear Creek Winery hosted a driving tour of holiday lights with Bear Creek Drive neighbors this year. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
‘Let it Glow’ holiday lights campaign and competition announced

Event encourages people to create festive holiday-light displays

The moon rises over the Kenai Mountains and Beluga Lake at about 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Homer’s Best Bets

We’re going into another cold week, Betster persons, all the more reason… Continue reading

File photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News
Ben Mitchell, left, serves spaghetti to helper Pat Wells in the kitchen at a past Share the Spirit spaghetti feed.
Looking to share some holiday spirit? Here’s how

As the holiday season approaches, one organization is continuing its 29-year mission… Continue reading

Town Crier

Bear Creek Winery Garden of Lights will return this December with Christmas… Continue reading

Khaleesi (Photo courtest of Alaska Mindful Paws)
Pet of the week: Khaleesi

Khaleesi is a sweet girl looking to find her furever home. She… Continue reading

Before boiling, this handmade pasta is rolled, cut and tossed in flour to keep from sticking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Pasta by hand

The first kitchen job I interviewed for was a saute position in… Continue reading

Most Read