Letters to the Editor

SPARC grateful for foundation support

On behalf of the Board of Directors of SAH, Soccer, which operates the South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center, I thank the Youth Advisory Council of the Homer Foundation for their generous support of our proposal to help various youth activities find a home at the SPARC. Through a generous YAC grant, the SPARC will be able to provide free or discounted rental usage to youth groups from the area wishing to use our facility for an event or activity. The grant basically underwrites rental fees for up to 20 hours of use over the next year. As the contact person for the grant application, I can attest to how seriously and diligently the Youth Advisory Council took their philanthropy, as they asked meaningful and logical questions about our proposal. We deeply respect and appreciate the YAC’s dedication to their mission and commitment to our community. As our community slowly and safely restores indoor recreation as an important avenue to physical, social and emotional wellness, the YAC funds will help connect local youth activities to the SPARC indoor space by making it more affordable. For more information on how youth activities can access this help, please inquire at sparchomer@gmail.com.

In gratitude,

Ginny Espenshade, Vice President, SAH Soccer

State park friends appreciate Grace Ridge Brewery

There are many great businesses in Homer that have strived to continue, in some form, service to the public during these difficult times. It is the upmost of importance to recognize that in order to maintain some semblance of fun in today’s environment there must be some order.

One such business is Grace Ridge Brewery. They have established a reasonable protocol while still providing a product to the public.

Don and Sherry have also been a constant backer of non-prophets by providing funds derived from tip collection, to various area organizations.

During this period of “hunkering down” Grace Ridge Brewery maintained this beneficial program.

As the benefactor of this program for the month of May, The Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park and the Kachemak Bay Water Trail Steering Committee express our upmost gratitude to Grace Ridge Brewery for their ongoing support.

At a time when local citizen participation is becoming more important and funds are needed support Friends projects to help enhance Kachemak Bay State Park, this generous program is the finest example of business support for organizations which make the Homer area great.

In gratitude,

Robert Archibald, for the Board of Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park and the Kachemak Bay Water Trail Steering Committee

Testing saves lives

I was listening to the Homer City Council meeting last Monday, June 22, and I almost dropped my mug of Ovaltine when I heard Council member Heath Smith throwing shade on local efforts to test people for COVID. He seemed to argue that testing leads to more cases revealed and that this revelation was bad for our community. Think about that. Smith is an educated person. So why would he say something so idiotic?

Testing saves lives, pure and simple. It also bolsters our economy because it helps to stop the spread of this virus, which will undermine all of our endeavors, if we do nothing to contain it. He knows that.

So, why did he promote such stupidity? Because he is part of a vertically integrated chain of malign ignorance. D. Trump, M. Dunleavy, S. Vance, C. Pierce, H. Smith. Think about it.


Deland Anderson

Vance rally endangered community

Rep. Sarah Vance did a great disservice to her supporters and endangered the health of our entire community by holding her “Covid-19 free, mask optional” rally two weeks ago. She ignored the strong advice from the governor and state health officials to maintain social distancing and wear masks when out in public. Social distancing was even joked about from her stage. Because one infected person can infect several others even if only one or two folks at the rally had the infection it could have led to dozens of community members becoming infected.

What part of “the virus is spread from person to person by respiratory droplets and secretions” does she not understand? How does she not understand that over a third of infections are spread by people who have no symptoms of the disease? Masks prevent the spread of this dangerous virus and have been shown to also afford protection to wearers. Even Gov. Dunleavy wears a mask when interacting with others. Since her election, Vance has marched in complete lockstep with the governor and has supported every policy and budget cut he has made and has voted to uphold every one of his vetoes. Why has she chosen to break from him at this time and ignore his advice on this most serious issue that has already taken nearly 500,000 lives worldwide and 120,000 American lives?

By her action and refusal to wear a mask when in a place of business, Rep. Vance has helped perpetuate misinformation that the problem is “overblown.” Think of the example she could set by heeding the recommendations of the governor and state health officials by wearing a mask in public. Leaders lead by doing the right thing even if it might be unpopular. She has yet to show any leadership except in the wrong direction.

Hal Smith, M.D.

The benefit of wearing masks is not overrated

If we wear masks when we are out in public places, there will be fewer cases of COVID-19 in our community. Wearing masks is the recommendation from many sources including our city, borough, and state.

Masks are not fun to wear, but they are well worth it if we can slow this disaster down. Not everyone can wear them safely (due to age or physical condition), but almost everyone can.

Masks are a bother to bring along, but with the increase in cases — particularly right here, right now — this could mean the difference between our local health care system being able to handle the number of cases and them being overwhelmed.

Masks are not 100% protection, but if both people in an interaction are wearing them, then combined there is a good blockage of airborne droplets. Even if the mask does not fit quite tightly enough, the mask will still block droplets.

We wear masks primarily for the sake of others: older people, caregivers for the vulnerable, families with newborn children, and that percentage of people with an unknown condition who could potentially get a very severe case (who can be anyone of any age).

The benefit of wearing a mask is that we are all safer. Fewer cases in our community would mean getting back to normal faster, having kids attend school next fall, and getting our economy back on track easier.

For more information, the following is from the Stanford Medical Center: http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/06/stanford-scientists-contribute-to-who-mask-guidelines.html

Lani Raymond

Mask shaming doesn’t help

There have been two recent letter writers critical of Rep. Sarah Vance for not wearing a face mask in public. While we should all take precautions due to the hazards of the COVID-19 virus, there is disagreement about the benefit of wearing face masks. Dr. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been on both sides of the issue and at one time warned that mask use was not needed by the general public. Some physicians warn that masks used incorrectly, by untrained people, can actually help spread the virus. Compulsory mask use is required in much of China, yet recently they had a second wave of COVID-19 strike in Beijing. Today the Chinese government has locked down parts of their capital to control its spread. Compulsory universal mask use in much of China did not prevent the spread of coronavirus. The benefits of mask use are not 100% certain and can be debated.

While mask use is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, in Homer it is not currently required by municipal, state or federal law. Based on this, nothing that Rep. Vance did was illegal, immoral or unethical. She made a decision consistent with her rights as an American. An individual may not agree with her — that is also their right.

If someone wants to wear a mask, they should feel free to do so. At the same time there is also the freedom not to wear a mask. Mask shaming those who do not agree with you does not help further the conversation and contributes to further divisiveness within our community. I am surprised that people would write letters with such strident ad hominem personal attacks. It is very disrespectful to Rep. Vance. Perhaps that was the real point.


Greg Sarber

Tax help available online

Homer AARP TaxAide prepares taxes for free to many in our community, especially senior citizens. The national office shut down all TaxAide sites in early March. We thought we might be able to reopen before the July 15 deadline. Due to the continued positive COVID-19 cases on the Kenai Peninsula, they are not going to allow us to reopen our site for the rest of the year. If you would like help filing your own tax return, go to aarp.org/taxhelp and submit a request. Someone will help you prepare your return online.

Sorry we couldn’t reopen before July 15, but the national office is looking out for the volunteers’ and taxpayers’ safety.

Keep healthy and safe. Hopefully we’ll see you in February 2021.

Zelda Collett-Paule, Local Coordinator, Homer AARP TaxAide

SPBHS says thanks

South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services would like to thank our partners in the community for their efforts during this pandemic in keeping the community safe, healthy and informed.

Like us, organizations dedicated to the wellness of the community have found new ways of doing things, have found new ways of connecting with people, and have found new ways of defining health. I’ve been very impressed with the speed and flexibility exhibited by the local hospital, local churches, local public health team, local health care organizations, and local schools to ensure the safety and on-going health of our community.

Not to mention the compassion. The Church on the Rock, very early on, called us up and asked how they could help. They provided our organization a very generous donation that allowed us to buy school supplies for kids as daily school activities turned upside down. We were able to help pay for housing for those that were impacted by the financial hit of the pandemic. We were able to help cover utility costs for families struggling to make ends meet. We were able to buy food for families and deliver it as the quarantine made it harder for people to get to the store. It’s that kind of connection from Church on the Rock that makes Homer such a strong community.

As our agency returns to providing in-person services, we would like to remind everyone to stay safe, make healthy decisions, and draw strength from the support of each other. In all you do.

Thank you,

Jay Bechtol, Chief Executive Officer, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services

Flag represents freedoms — and sins

With liberty and justice for all. I see a lot of United States flags waving from the back of vehicles these days. I have one in my front flower bed. I wish they had large print quoting the Pledge of Allegiance as that pledge is what this flag represents, and it is for all.

It represents freedoms tested by the Supreme Court over decades, written into the Constitution: freedom of the press, right to bear arms, to practice any religion, access to vote no matter your gender or race, free public education, Equal Rights, handicap-accessible public buildings, to marry whoever you want, or not, to not be fired due to sexuality, race, age or gender. It represents a democratic government built on a system of checks and balances — legislative, executive and judicial. Some of these freedoms are contentious. They invoke hatred.

Hatred between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, resource developers and environmentalists, virus-protective mask-wearers and non-mask-wearers. I even wonder these days if we are on the verge of totalitarianism vs. pluralism.

Sadly, for me, this flag also represents great sins. Violent sins of slavery and indigenous people genocide, racism. It brings great shame upon humanity. I ask my dear God how can humanity survive this hatred and division any longer.

We have politicians who only seem to care about protecting their party and thus feeding the hatred. Who run on greedy promises such as tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, no income taxes and increased dividends while offering no new vision for our future, for education, for affordable health care, for a living wage so the working class can afford to raise a family, for protecting our neighborhoods from the disasters of climate change flooding and fires.

I recently voiced my distaste to a politician who told me to express my opinion with my vote. I will. I will be voting for two Independent, not party, candidates who I believe will put the needs of our state and our community first, not those of a political party. My votes will be for Kelly Cooper, state house representative candidate, and Alyse Galvin, U.S. house representative candidate. You can go to elections.alaska.gov to register to vote if you have not done so yet, and to request an absentee ballot if you are afraid of voting at a public place during this pandemic.

Therese Lewandowski

Foundation supports clinic

The Homer Foundation has a long history of providing timely and vital support to the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic. This year that seems even more true than ever, and we are so grateful.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we applied for assistance towards the purchase of a van for the expanding REC Room program. Owning a van will create the opportunity for 6th graders from West Homer and Big Fireweed elementary schools to participate in the Positive Youth Develpment Afterschool Program. PYDAP is the new afterschool offering with a Healthy Lifestyles focus. Thanks to the Willow Fund and the Kleps Fund for providing funds of our van purchase goal.

A steady source of funding that helps keep the lights on, water flowing, and administration happening for many area nonprofits comes through the Homer Foundation in the form of City of Homer – General Operations grant assistance. The City of Homer grant leverages resources from our other funders while helping us keep our doors open to everyone in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. It’s especially appreciated now, as our earned revenue is down due to restrictions on clinical services due to COVID-19.

As we cautiously re-introduce in person services in the clinic and REC Room, we are encountering expenses for facility modifications and equipment that will reduce risk of spreading COVID-19. Thanks to the Homer Foundation COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund for helping us with these extra expenses.

Receiving this variety of grants in rapid succession has magnified our appreciation for the important role the Homer Foundation holds in our community. Thank you to the Homer Foundation staff Mike Miller and Lauren Seaton, to all of the volunteer board, and fund committee members, your work make a significant difference.

Zelda Collett-Paule, Board of Directors Treasurer, Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic