I moved to Homer from Arizona 11 years ago. I was just out of college and living on my own for the first time in my life. I was instantly drawn to this town for the beautiful surroundings, but I have stayed here because of the community. I grew up in the suburbs of Tucson, Arizona, which was wonderful, but I always knew I wanted to live in a small town. I think I found the best one around.
My family was not specifically philanthropic, or let me say, it was never instilled in me to be involved with nonprofits. I am not sure if it was just not a focus for my family or that we lived in the suburbs so there were not many around. We had all the sports activities and summer camps, which I know now were probably funded by nonprofits. My thoughts have changed drastically because of Homer, our thriving nonprofit community, and the love I have found in my job at the Homer Foundation.
Even though we are a small town at the end of the road, and I do love our city, borough, and state government and all the basic services it can provide, but we all know the municipalities, and more specifically their dollars, are stretched thin. Enter the nonprofits. Let’s think about the winter, do you love skiing? We have two nonprofits focusing on skiing. Or is it hockey or other indoor recreation? I can think of three that support those passions. Or are you an adrenaline junkie with a need for speed? Yep, we have nonprofits for those too. That is just the tip of the iceberg, and I feel like everyone I talk to has a different fabric of nonprofits to make up their own quilt of support, with so many opportunities here for a vibrant, resilient, fulfilled life.
Working for the Homer Foundation, I have become acutely aware of so many different programs, services, opportunities, and holes the nonprofits provide to go above and beyond those basic services provided by the municipalities. They may take care of the roads, but nonprofits help fill the roads with buildings and protected land. They also provide things to do for families and help those in need.
By our count, nonprofits provide more than 100 jobs to our communities. Those jobs provide a payroll of $4 million leveraging money from outside donors, state and federal governments. They also bring in more than $7.2 million in revenues to our communities.
You may not even realize something you love so much — like a trail you walk all the time, or a playground your family uses daily, the library with all of their services, or your favorite annual event — is probably provided by a nonprofit. I certainly did not, but now am so thankful for each and every one of the more than 90 registered nonprofits within the area.
Some of these organizations are all volunteers with the biggest hearts while others do have paid staff. I see the entire spectrum to be valuable. I encourage you, next time you are out on the town or going somewhere, ask if a nonprofit is involved. Look for a sign. Then I also encourage you to also think of how you might want to support them with your time, talent, or treasure. Help keep Homer the best community it can be because of our amazing nonprofits.
Lauren Seaton is the Executive Assistant at the Homer Foundation. She lives in Homer with her husband and daughter and you can frequently find them out on the water or on the trails.