A few years ago, a longtime Kenai Peninsula resident was looking for a local organization to which he could leave his estate.
The man had no heirs and he was not enamoured with the prospect of his life's earnings arbitrarily going into the state's coffers.
Finding no such organization here, he ultimately bequeathed $1 million to an agency Outside.
A number of community leaders in the central peninsula don't want that to happen again.
Addressing the Kenai Chamber of Commerce last week, the leaders now organized described for the business leaders the Kenai Peninsula Foundation, and told them what they could do to help.
Board member Stan Steadman acknowledged that the Kenai Peninsula is "a very giving community," giving much toward current, critical needs.
"What about the long term?" he asked rhetorically.
Citing the foundation's mission, Steadman said it is designed to "provide individuals and organizations with opportunities to leave a legacy of resources for the benefit of local communities and their residents."
The foundation manages and creates funds that support charitable activities, pooling and investing assets to maximize each dollar's impact, Steadman said. The Kenai Peninsula Foundation is supported by the Alaska Community Foundation.
More than simply a place to leave one's estate after death, the foundation offers a variety of funds, allowing benefactors to direct their assets toward specific fields of interest, such as a local youth soccer league; scholarship programs helping students attend colleges, universities or vocational training; specific non-profit organizations, such as a senior center or museum; or supporting organizations.
Non-profit organizations can also establish a designated fund or agency endowment at the community foundation.
So far, the peninsula foundation has established a board of directors, conducted a community survey, trained staff and affiliated with the state foundation, according to Steadman.
Already available on the Kenai Peninsula are the Chevron Kenai Peninsula Fund, the Kenai Central High School Choir Scholarship Fund, the Arctic Winter Games Fund, the Cameron Carter Memorial Scholarship fund, the Nursing Education Fund and the Kenai Peninsula Unrestricted Fund.
During Wednesday's chamber luncheon, two Chevron representatives Chris Myers and Johnny Santiago presented a $25,000 and a $15,000 check to the foundation. The $25,000 check represents contributions from Chevron employees, and the $15,000 was designated for a triple-funding challenge grant from the Alaska Community and Rasmuson foundations.
If the peninsula foundation raises $50,000 by June 30, the larger foundations will match their donations two-for-one, according to Jane Stein, also a peninsula board member.
Speaking for the Alaska Community Foundation, Mary Elizabeth Rider, said "We provide the financial backbone for smaller community foundations. We can accept checks for them and send thank-yous." The organization also has donor advisors to help people make decisions on where to donate their money, she said.
People wishing to contribute to the Kenai foundation can contact any board member, or call Joan Miller at Soldotna City Hall, 262-9107.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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