Story last updated at 11:15 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2002

Rasmuson grants awarded to Homer groups
by Carey James
Staff Writer

The Rasmuson Foundation announced the first batch of 2002 awards last month, and four Homer organizations were among those to benefit from the Alaska grant-giving philanthropic agency.

As previously announced, the Homer Council on the Arts received the largest grant in the Homer area, with $100,000 earmarked for the purchase of its building.

Also receiving funding, however, were the Pratt Museum, Hospice of Homer, and the Kenai Peninsula Independent Living Center.

The Pratt Museum was awarded a grant of $21,418 for some general office equipment, like a new copier and lamination machine, as well as video-editing equipment instrumental to the museum's plans for future story-based exhibits.

Michael Hawfield, museum director, said the funds, while separate from the tightly stretched operating budget, will go a long way to help the facility realize some goals.

The equipment will be used in part to work with hours of video already collected from various sections of the community through community conversations and interviews with homesteaders, Alaska Natives and others.

"It will allow us to produce an edited video that can be used in an exhibit," Hawfield said. "It's a new kind of exhibit. We have wonderful videos of the stories that make this community a rich one, and we want to bring that to the general public."

Hawfield said the equipment will be useful for another purpose as well: writing more grants. These days, including a video that illustrates what an organization is doing and where it is going is critical for receiving additional grants, he said.

The Rasmuson Foundation also awarded $7,500 to the Kenai Peninsula Independent Living Center for a lift-equipped van to transport the elderly and disabled, as well as a $3,713 grant for two wheelchairs, two bedside commodes and a hospital bed for the Hospice of Homer.

Some in the area may also benefit from substantial grants to the Council on Domestic Violence, which received a $1.5 million matching grant for repair and renewal of domestic violence shelters across the state, and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which received a $1 million matching grant to train and employ dental health aides in rural communities across the state.

Hawfield said the Rasmuson Foundation grants can be extremely helpful because they are often awarded for simple, operational needs.

"I think the most important thing the Rasmuson Foundation does is understand the needs of Alaska. It's one of the few places that provides us with the kind of support they gave us: simply to buy some equipment because we need it," he said.

In total, the foundation granted approximately $10 million to Alaska nonprofit organizations in the first half of 2002. The foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband, "E.A." Rasmuson. Today, it assists nonprofits that address basic needs, arts and culture, and projects that address special circumstances.