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.