HOMER - Local residents in this Kenai Peninsula town have turned to their own resources to help pay for a new library and other projects with a unique institution, the decade-old Homer Foundation.
The foundation, which just gave $50,000 for the library project, was formed in 1991. Since then the community foundation, the first of its kind in Alaska, has built up a fund that totals $600,000.
All of it was raised from individuals in the community, said foundation director Joy Steward.
"To have such a foundation in a community of this size is an amazing thing," Steward said. Homer's population is about 4,700.
Grants have gone for a local hospital's child car-seat distribution and for school field trips to the Pratt Museum. Last year the foundation distributed about $45,000 to the community. It also served as a pass-through agency for $96,000 earmarked for nonprofit groups by the city of Homer.
The $50,000 library grant is the foundation's largest ever. The group was impressed by the private fund-raising effort for the library, Steward said.
Fund-raisers have accounted for $1.2 million toward the $3.4 million cost of a library, said Homer writer Nancy Lord, co-chairwoman of the library's capital campaign. That includes more than $100,000 in private donations aside from the foundation money, she said.
The Homer group is basing its fund-raising strategy on the successful efforts of Haines residents to build a new library without a single big government grant, Lord said.
"We'd love a big state or federal grant, but that doesn't seem to be the way libraries are being built these days," she said.
The library committee hopes to raise the funds by 2004.
The city began negotiations last month to buy land in the center of town for a new library.