Homer Foundation Executive Director Mike Miller in a photo taken Aug. 28, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Mike Miller)

Homer Foundation Executive Director Mike Miller in a photo taken Aug. 28, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Mike Miller)

Point of View: One year later

“In like a lion, out like a lamb” is how we like to think of the month of March. Change and transition. Last March we were just beginning to grapple with the idea of a global pandemic. Communities were realizing the most vulnerable would need help and planning for how segments of the economy would be negatively impacted. We also began to “social distance’ with fewer and smaller gatherings. We started more virtual interaction, curbside shopping and more focus on the safety in our “family bubble.” We also gave to those who needed help.

American Heritage dictionary defines “philanthropy” as “The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.” Also, “The love of human kind in general.”

If there was ever a doubt, the last year has made it clear that, corporately and as individuals, the southern Kenai Peninsula is clearly a philanthropic community. We rose up in a multitude of ways to show our compassion for each other. Thinking about the past year, I could talk about the money raised and distributed both by us and by others (for which we are truly humbled and grateful), but the impacts are deeper than that. Here are some of my philanthropy takeaways of the last 12 months.

First, we can and will help each other when we see the need is there. Support systems like nonprofits, foundations, churches, individuals and policy makers mobilized all sorts of help. Neighbors helping neighbors. People gave generously of resources and time to help those in need. None of these sectors could have done it alone, but together we were able to make a difference. In reality, needs of all sorts were met and exceeded.

Second, there is a fine line between being socially distanced and socially isolated. We have an innate need to connect with others regularly, in person. I’ve heard many people who do not consider themselves overly social (myself included) remark that they look forward to visiting more. We are, as they say, social animals with a need to connect with others. Friendship and social interaction at whatever level you need it is in reality another “basic” need.

Third take away. It is important to remember, with or without a pandemic, those needs are always there — whether they involve necessities, things which enrich our lives or just being there for each other. These are all places philanthropy makes a difference. It may be time to do some self-reflecting on how we can “increase the wellbeing” of others in our community. It may be time to think about how we can empathize more, walk with more kindness and to serve our community.

The only real question is: Is there some place you can help today?

Mike Miller is the Executive Director of the Homer Foundation, a community foundation located in Homer, Alaska. Since 1991 the Homer Foundation has been promoting philanthropy and serving the southern Kenai Peninsula from Ninilchik to Nanwalek.

Nonprofit Needs for March 2021

The Homer Food Pantry is seeking frozen protein either fish or chicken. Contac the Homer Community Food Pantry at 907-235-1968.

Hospice of Homer is looking for all sort of supplies: barrier cream, anti-itch cream, heavy male guards, heavy bladder pads, ice cleats for shoes or boots, a baby gate, grab bars for shower, wheelchairs and transfer wheelchairs. Contact Hospice of Homer at 907-235-6899.

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