Last Friday, March 31, the Seward Community Foundation (SCF) held a special event at the Gateway Hotel to announce disbursements for its 2023 funding cycle. In total, the SCF awarded $103,527 to 17 area organizations. The event also raised $7,905 for the SCF with 37 donations made by attendees and online contributors.
Photos by Wolf Kurtz and Melanie Smith
“That’s the most we’ve ever received at any of our events,” said SCF Board Vice-Chair and Grants Team Lead Mark Kansteiner. “Everybody was very generous.”
Top among 2023’s recipients, four awards of $10,000 were announced – Seaview Community Services was granted funds for behavioral health services for the underinsured; the Seward PTA Booster Club will receive money toward the purchase of a new van; the Seward Prevention Coalition (SPC) will use its $10,000 for domestic violence transitional housing; and the Alaska SeaLife Center will receive funds for Sugt’stun language signage and consulting.
Another six organizations will receive funds over $5,000 – the Kenai Mountain Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area will receive $8,000 toward an activity van; the Seward Nordic Ski Club (SNSC) was awarded $7,325 to replace its ginzu trail groomer, a snow machine attachment adding air to improve snow consistency for skiers; The SPC will receive a second award of $6,065 for its Wellness for All school mindfulness program; Marathon wrestling will receive $5,702 to cover van rental expenses; Sprouts Preschool will receive $5,500 toward staff salaries; and the Seward Sports Association will receive $5,245 for a new ATV and field dragger.
“The SCF grant awarded to SNSC is for a wider ginzu groomer than the 30-year-old, breaking-down one we currently use at Trail River Campground,” said SNSC Board President MaryLynn Barnwell. “The new ginzu will enable Rick, our main groomer at the campground, to make less passes, saving time, fuel, and wear and tear on the machinery. We are thankful to SCF for funding this grant.”
Additionally, seven other awardees were granted disbursements between $1,000 and $5,000 – the Seward PTA will receive an additional $5,000 for the Kids to Slopes program; Seward Elementary was awarded $4,550 for artists in Seward and Moose Pass schools; $4,500 will go the Cooper Landing EMS for water rescue equipment; Seward Little League will receive $4,250 for baseball equipment for the senior league; the Independent Living Center/TRAILS will receive $4,000 for various activities; the Seward Rotary Club was awarded $2,000 for the beautification of Rotary Park; and the Seward Community Health Center was given $1,390 for professional development training.
With catering by Barrio Kitchen and live music from Ron Marsh, the event was attended by over 100 people, including Alaska Community Foundation Senior Program Officer of Affiliates Carmen Davis. In addition to the above grants, two mini-grants were awarded, the first in the form of a Pay It Forward Challenge donor raffle.
“Everybody that made a donation in an envelope that evening put on their envelope who they wanted a $500 mini grant to go to,” Kansteiner said, “and one envelope was drawn out of the basket full of envelopes.”
Susan and Jim Pfeiffenberger won the raffle, selecting the Seward Nordic Ski Club to receive the mini-grant. A second $500 mini-grant was chosen via a trivia contest hosted by former vice mayor Tony Baclaan, who also emceed the event. The Hatch trivia team claimed victory in the contest, selecting Seward Elementary as the $500 awardee.
“That team was made up of a number of former and current elementary school students, of which Carol Hatch was one,” Kansteiner said. “That’s why it was their team.”
Kansteiner went on to thank all the contributors who made the event possible: the Gateway Hotel and staff for the use of the space and cash bar; Lori Butts from Barrio Kitchen for the good food; Tony Baclaan for hosting and emceeing; Ron Marsh for the music; and all award presenters. He also extended a special thanks to board members Katie Shepard and Dave Paperman and SCF Program Manager Amy Hankins for all the event planning.
“It was a fun event,” Kansteiner said. “Everybody had a good time. Congratulations to all the winners! It’s a real honor for our board to be involved in this because of all the good that these non-profits do for the community.”