Pay It Forward: When the Stars Align

We had never heard of Homer, Alaska, until 2015, when our son announced he was moving there. He packed up a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, surfboard in tow, and drove from Burbank, California to Homer. He didn’t know anyone there; he just made up his mind and went.

We thought he was crazy, but, a year later, we came to visit, and like the stories of countless folks we have met in Homer, we fell in love with this amazing community and its people. In 2020, he and his best friend bought a piece of property. We knew he would never return to southern California, and if we wanted to see our son, we needed to figure out a way to spend time in Homer.

Then, in 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, we bought a house in Homer so we could stay for extended visits. On a visit to Homer in April 2022, we were in the car with our son’s partner. She pointed out the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic (KBFPC) and mentioned the clinic was struggling financially and could possibly be closing, and also it was the only clinic of its kind on the Kenai Peninsula. We were all still in the throes of the pandemic.

Our philosophy is, if we are buying a home in a community, even if we are not there full time, we should become supportive community members. Coincidentally, a few weeks later, we were contacted by Claudia Haines, CEO of KBFPC, through Airbnb. Claudia was looking for a space to hold a weekend retreat for the organization’s Board of Directors. Unfortunately, the dates did not align, but the stars did.

I had multiple conversations with Claudia about the work the clinic was doing, and the immediate need for additional funds. I learned what a valuable resource the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic is for Homer and Kenai Peninsula communities. It is a nonprofit organization which provides high-quality, low-cost access to reproductive health care, wellness services, and education essential for individuals, families and the community as a whole. KBFPC has provided confidential, trauma-informed clinical and educational services for adults and teens of all genders, backgrounds and income for more than 40 years. The clinic serves about 1,000 clients each year.

In addition, KBFPC’s Resource and Enrichment Co-op, known as the REC Room, provides teens ages 12-18 with a safe space after school, and sexual health education in area schools. With gaps in health care for many individuals, in addition to the high cost of health insurance, services like the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic are crucial. After learning about all of the invaluable services that the clinic provides and the important part they play in the community, we chose to become monthly donors.

We met with Claudia this past May, and had a tour of the clinic, where we listened and learned more about the necessary work KBFPC is doing. We are excited to become more involved with the clinic and support them any way we can. With a background in nonprofit public relations, community outreach, and education in Los Angeles, I hope to use these skills to support the needs of the clinic and the Homer community. This a new relationship that we hope will grow over time.

Our son is happy here. He has surrounded himself with the most extraordinary, creative, generous, group of individuals I have ever met. If these folks are the future of Homer, you are all in good hands.

Charlie Lahaie is a wife and mother. She worked for 25 years in nonprofit public relations and 20 years as an educator. Recently retired, she enjoys volunteering in her community.