SHI reports major donations for new Juneau center

A number of individuals and a local club recently donated money to Sealaska Heritage Institute to help build the Walter Soboleff Center, putting the institute closer to raising matching dollars to leverage extra funds from a major foundation, the Alaska Native nonprofit group announced Wednesday.

A delegation from the Juneau Lions Club this week presented a check for $20,000 to former Juneau Mayor Byron Mallott, chairman of the Walter Soboleff Center Capital Campaign Committee. The club made the donation in honor of the late Walter Soboleff, who was a long-standing member of the Juneau Lions Club, said President Steve Brandner.

“He was our Monarch Lion, a mentor to all, motivator for every Lion and the beloved sponsor for many of our Lions Club members of the years. He set a standard for caring for others, kept us going when times got tough and always shared stories about how important our volunteer work was when helping others in our community who were less fortunate,” Brandner said of Soboleff, as quoted in SHI’s news release.

In addition to the check from the Lions Club, SHI said, donations were received from Chris and Mary McNeil, who have given $28,000, and the Walter Soboleff Trust, which gave another $20,000.

The Rasmuson Foundation in 2012 awarded $1 million to help fund the center. The group offered an extra $250,000 if SHI raised matching funds.

The recent donations plus other contributions from more than 100 other individuals and groups have put the total at $106,000 in matching funds so far. SHI has until the end of 2014 to raise the rest of the funds.

The Walter Soboleff Center, as planned, will provide an arts and retail space on the empty lot at the corner of Front and South Seward streets in downtown Juneau.

SHI has raised more than 75 percent of the total $20 million to build the center. Three million dollars of that money is being allocated from local sales tax proceeds, an expenditure approved by city voters last October.


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