Pay It Forward: It takes a community

I moved to Homer in 2011 knowing little about this place except for camping on the Spit, halibut fishing, Fat Olives Pizza and that it was the End of the Road.

Up to that point, I had lived in several Alaskan communities and been involved with nonprofit organizations. I knew the importance of giving back and being part of the solution. I learned the hustle it took going from one small locally owned business to another asking for support in any way they could offer. I have sold more raffle tickets than I can remember.

I don’t know if Alaska is special in the way community members support local nonprofit organizations, and the myriad athletic teams, but I know Alaska wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t come together.

My family has chosen to support organizations that are important to us and that we feel are long-term investments to our quality of life. There are times that we would like to give more but have learned it’s not just the amount that counts. The number of people supporting the project is also important.

On Saturday, when I took my 5-year-old for our weekly play group at SPARC, I was excited to donate to the floor replacement project. A recent story on KBBI reminded me that I hadn’t yet given. While the small amount I was able to donate may not push them over the threshold, I felt good about investing in something that my husband volunteered to help build, that we use almost weekly, and that provides the community with an indoor space to recreate.

It felt good knowing that my contribution, when combined with those of my friends, neighbors and businesses, means that we are closer to the goal. It feels good knowing that as my daughter grows older in this community my small investment counts.

A few years ago, it was estimated that there were over 100 nonprofit organizations in the greater Homer area. 100 nonprofits that worked to feed and clothe our neighbors, provide important medical assistance, teach our children, support small business, and provide ways to connect with each other through media, activities, and even build parks.

Outside of Alaska, areas where there is a larger tax base, the government is involved in providing some of these services. But in Homer, we unite and do what we can in a more efficient and economical way. When I am involved with a local organization, I know that more of my dollars are going directly to what I feel is important.

It doesn’t take a village to build a community that has it all, it takes this community. It takes this community to support the baseball team’s car wash; to support the softball team’s yard sale; to support the maintenance of the Nordic ski trails; to fill the shelves at the Food Pantry, and to replace the floor at SPARC.

For those of you who are new to the Homer area, the best way to meet your neighbors and find your place in our community is by joining an organization as a volunteer or donating to their cause or project.

Debbie Speakman is an advocate for local giving.


Pier One Theatre is seeking a large open space to hold rehearsals from May to September 2023. Rehearsal times vary by show, so a space with flexible scheduling is needed. Cheap or free space is best! Please call 907-226-2287 or email

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