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Philanthropy - support what matters most to you

Posted: December 21, 2011 - 12:01am

Like many baby boomers, until recently, I considered myself immortal. And, one day, I couldn’t believe I was actually answering questions which would lead to a will! Why should I prepare one if it would never be used? But, reluctantly accepting the premise that none of us will make it out alive, I proceeded with the task.

When I got to the “fill in the blank” sections regarding charitable contributions, I went through a mental checklist of local nonprofits I wanted to support. At the time, it occurred to me that if I was lucky to hang around long enough, that some of those nonprofits may not still be in Juneau, or they could merge, change, or be somehow different from than the versions that I support today.

I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an organization that would allow me to donate a portion of my estate and that I would be assured the money would go to the causes that I care about? So, I did a little investigation and learned that local community foundations existed in many parts of the country that served that purpose, but we didn’t have one in Juneau. In talking the topic over with friends, including Ken Leghorn and Eric Kueffner, we shared a recognition of the potential benefit of community foundations. It was then we agreed to start the Juneau Community Foundation.

While JCF is now a successful and growing entity which does serve that original purpose, I didn’t realize that a community foundation could be far more than a place to leave money through a will.

Since its inception, the foundation has proven to help other nonprofits reach their goals, like the newly completed Theater in the Rough and local charities like the Glory Hole, by linking likeminded donors with worthy causes.

JCF has also helped to construct the Dimond Park Field House, which was started as a JCF project and was later handed over to the Dimond Park Field House board, created for the purpose of owning and operating the indoor sports complex.

The foundation has also been place to honor the lives of former Juneau residents through Memorial Funds, by facilitating giving to charitable organizations or causes that they supported.

Additionally, the foundation has helped to endow scholarships for popular local programs like the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the Juneau Youth Choir.

In an effort to sustain philanthropy in the community over time, JCF has worked to inspire its future philanthropic leaders through its teen philanthropy program, the Youth Action committees at Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high schools, which has guided students in raising and granting funds in support of youth-related issues.

This journey of philanthropy has been a tremendously rewarding experience — I have learned that community members can solve problems by working together and collaborating with an incredible network of nonprofit organizations.

During this holiday season, I encourage you to support the causes and charities that matter to you, whether it’s through one of the many vehicles of philanthropy at JCF, PFDs Pick.Click.Give., or direct to one of the many organizations that makes Juneau a great place to live. Giving has its own rewards that all of us should experience when the opportunity presents itself.

• Stoops is one of the founders and current board members of the Juneau Community Foundation and is also a lobbyist and businessman.

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