The Juneau Community Foundation recently celebrated its Philanthropists of the Year for 2015 with three awards.
Juneau couple Julie and Peter Neyhart were named Philanthropists of the Year for their “generous giving of their time, talent, and money with people and organizations throughout our community,” according to the JCF.
The couple, who have lived in Juneau since 1966, give to the foundation through its Social Service Fund, designed to help people in need. In honor of their award, money raised through the JCF event was donated to this fund, and a $10,000 matching fund was established by community philanthropists and friends.
The couple also regularly supports local organizations including Aware, the National Alliance on Mental Health, and the Glory Hole.
In remarks made after accepting the award, Julie Neyhart recognized that philanthropy is something that all of us can do to assist our community and the people who live here.
“In my mind a philanthropist was always a person with a lot of money who donated it by the millions to various worthy causes,” Julie said. “Well, if Peter and I are philanthropists, a change in definition is required. So ignoring the dictionary, I decided a philanthropist is one who shares what he can to benefit others. With that definition, we can be called philanthropists.
“One result of that distinction was being asked why we give. Peter’s short response was, ‘Because we can.’ That is true and it is true because of God’s blessings … From our faith background or our cultural background we both believe we have a responsibility to help those in need … Juneau is a wonderful community filled with many and varied opportunities to enrich lives. The more all of us share the better our community. Some share talent — we hear beautiful music. Some support our theaters — we read their names on the programs. Some support youth through scouting, 4-H, helping in classrooms or with school related activities. Some always take time to chat with children wherever they meet them. Some donate to the Glory Hole, others work to end homelessness. We are all philanthropists. Together we make Juneau better.”
The Foundation also presented Alaska Airlines with the Philanthropic Business award, citing the numerous contributions they have made to small and large nonprofit organizations throughout Juneau and Alaska. Marilyn Romano represented Alaska Airlines and was introduced by Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, a former member of the Alaska Airlines board of directors.
The Foundation’s Youth Philanthropist Award went to Molly, Toby and Elias Minick of 10th Street Trees, a Christmas tree business they took over from their parents. At the event, the three Minick siblings described how they decided to continue their parents’ tradition of giving part of the earnings from every Christmas tree sold to a local charity. In 2014 they donated more than $1,000 to the Housing First Project and expanded on the giving theme by providing several trees for free to meet a request of a young customer – that everyone should have a tree at Christmas.
Other stories shared at the event from donors and grantees introduced attendees to the Foundation’s work. Mike Stanley spoke about working with Michael Kirk to honor his parents by establishing the Simon and Anna Kirk Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Foundation though a bequest in his will. Jeff Brady, a longtime Skagway resident, expressed his gratitude to the Foundation for assisting him in establishing a fund in honor of his mother, Margaret Frans Brady, and her love of art and education. Brady also spread the word of how a $5,000 grant from this fund to the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation was instrumental in obtaining a $1.5 million federal grant for the Healing Project, including a totem commemorating the Douglas Indian Village by Sandy Beach and honoring those who lived and died there. Scott Ciambor rounded out the speakers with comments about Housing First, a project that will provide housing for chronically homeless people in Juneau.