Donor Stories

Donor Stories

Kurt Fredriksson and Mary Siroky

THEIR GIFT: Investing in Juneau through their will

THEIR LEGACY: Contributing to the future of Juneau

“At the Foundation, you can leverage your monetary donations into a greater outcome. That’s attractive to us.”

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John Gaguine

The Juneau Community Foundation celebrated John Gaguine with its third Founders’ Award, at a Zoom reception on September 16. The Founders’ Award recognizes “a lifetime of achievement and service to Juneau and Alaska.” More than 90 people — friends, family and colleagues — were online to honor John’s enduring commitment to community and philanthropy, his generous giving of time, talent, expertise, and money.

Over the course of the program, words of appreciation and affection for John were abundant. The Foundation’s founding members Reed Stoops and Eric Kueffner talked about the purpose and history of the Founders’ Award and provided an overview of John’s philanthropy and community service, contributions recognized by many as being fundamental to Juneau’s well-being.

“This is an exceptional award given only twice in the Foundation’s 20 year history, to Clark Gruening in 2015 and Ken Leghorn in 2017, who were both instrumental in the founding of the Foundation and exemplified philanthropy through their lifelong track records of giving back to the community. ” – Reed Stoops.

John and his wife Cindy’s philanthropy, both personal and through the Benito & Frances C. Gaguine Foundation, have touched many organizations in Juneau and beyond with an emphasis on health and social services, including The Glory Hall, Southeast Alaska Food Bank, AWARE, Haven House, Foster Care in AK, Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, Catholic Community Services, Perseverance Theatre, Love, Inc., KTOO, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, Alaska Legal Services, and the Juneau Community Foundation.

“A steady supporter of charitable and community enterprises in Juneau and throughout the world, John’s willingness to volunteer his time is as valuable as money. And, he is generous with his time – the currency of philanthropy– and that is a major reason why he is so deserving of the Founders’ Award.” – Eric Kueffner

Other speakers included KTOO’s Bill Legere, Catholic Community Service’s John Greely, The Glory Hall’s Mary Alice McKeen, and with a nod to just some of John and Cindy’s international philanthropy, Greg Bowles & Mercedes Alvarez spoke from Nicaragua. His daughter Rebecca Gaguine shared anecdotes about how frugal her father is in his personal life, nothing lavish, while always being very generous with his charitable giving.

In accepting the award, John referenced his father, Benito Gaguine who grew up during the Great Depression, and how people living then think a whole lot differently about money. Later in life after a very successful legal career, his father wanted to give his wealth to his two sons, but they convinced him that they had all that they needed, and that a better use of the funds would be for charitable purposes, which lead to the creation of the Benito & Frances C. Gaguine Foundation.

John, who had a distinguished legal career here in Alaska, is renowned for his humble nature. In his closing remarks, John’s humility surprised no one, when he said “after listening to all of this, hearing these remarks, I firmly believe I am not deserving of this award.” Yes, you are, John. Thank you for being generous and touching the lives of so many people here in Juneau and around the world.

Laraine Derr

The Juneau Community Foundation held their annual Philanthropy recognition dinner on September 19, 2019. The event honors outstanding local individuals and businesses who demonstrate their commitment to community philanthropy and leadership. Laraine Derr received the Philanthropist of the Year award. Elgee Rehfeld, LLC accepted the Philanthropic Business award.

Long-time resident Laraine Derr exemplifies the spirit of philanthropy, consistently and enthusiastically giving back to her hometown for decades. We honored Laraine as Philanthropist of the Year for her generous giving of time, talent, and money to myriad local projects and programs – Food Bank, costume design for high school theater, Alaska Mental Health Trust, sharing her culinary skills for auctions, Juneau Women’s Network, the Whale Project… to name just a few. Laraine’s genuine willingness and comfort in giving and asking others to do likewise has helped build our community.

“Philanthropy is not just MONEY. It is generosity in all its many forms. It is time. It is talent, and it is treasury… all those T words that occur throughout life. The origin of the word, philanthropy is a Greek word ‘philanthropia’, meaning kindliness, humanity, benevolence and love for man-kind. So basically, you can be an everyday philanthropist no matter your financial station or stage in life. My challenge to you is to find a way to give back to the world, whether it be time, talent, or treasury. I feel like I’m preaching to the choir tonight as most of you in this room actually reflect and live the meaning of the word. So, my last letter T is to say Thank you to all of you who make Juneau such a great place to live. Keep up the good work.” — Laraine Derr

True to her nature, Laraine used the spotlight to inspire even more charitable giving. When asked what she wanted to raise funds for during the evening, Laraine chose the Foundation because her interests are broad, and supporting the Foundation’s growing and effective role in the community is important to her. To further honor Laraine, attendees were challenged to match $50,000 that had already been raised for that purpose from her friends prior to the event.

Elgee Rehfeld, LLC is renowned for their financial accounting expertise and their decades long, widespread support of Juneau. Serving the community by being generous with their time and money is in their personal and corporate DNA, they and their employees are active all over town on boards and Rotary, always contributing to the greater good. Never ones to draw attention to themselves, these pillars in our hometown – business leader, supporter of non-profits, model of community spirit – embody the notion that giving back to the community is good business, for all involved.

“We have been blessed with both the opportunity and capacity to help. In our beautiful small community, we have always believed it’s the right thing to do. We applaud all those in business and professions who follow suit.  We share in this recognition.” — Bob Rehfeld. George Elgee and Gayle Starbard joined Bob in accepting the award on behalf of the firm.

The Foundation encourages all people to be philanthropic, to promote the welfare of others, especially by donating money and time to good causes.

Learn more.

Mike Blackwell

The Juneau Community Foundation held their annual Philanthropy recognition dinner on September 27, 2018. The event honors outstanding local individuals and businesses who demonstrate their commitment to community philanthropy and leadership. Mike Blackwell received the Philanthropist of the Year Award and Sealaska accepted the Philanthropic Business Award. And, new this year, a Nonprofit Organization Award went to JAMHI Health & Wellness for their extraordinary service. To further honor Mike Blackwell, funds were raised during the evening for the Marie Darlin Arts & Literature Prize.

Long-time resident Mike Blackwell started one of the first donor advised funds with the Foundation and over the years has contributed generously to the community. Focused on success for the next generation, examining history, and building community, Mike has given his time, expertise, and money to the Friends of Zach Gordon Youth Center, Discovery Southeast, STEM youth activities, and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. He provided emergency support to the Glory Hall when building flooding called for additional repairs, and in times of expansion such as creating the rooftop garden. True to his self-effacing nature, Mike used the spotlight to commemorate a longtime Juneau champion, Marie Darlin, by introducing a new endowed fund to provide an award in arts and literature. The Marie Darlin Arts & Literature Prize will be awarded annually by the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Per Mike’s wishes, the evening served as a fundraiser for the fund. A $25,000 challenge match was announced at the event and by the end of the festivities, almost $18,000 had been raised.

Business leader Sealaska has a long history of significant giving in Juneau and Southeast Alaska. It has provided over $2.3 million in scholarships for graduating seniors and is expanding its reach in support of young people. Sealaska is a leader in developing local entrepreneurship through its Spruce Roots program focused on sustainable economies. And, its support for Forget Me Not Manor, a Housing First residence, demonstrates Sealaska’s commitment to building healthy families and communities. Chief Executive Officer Anthony Mallott spoke on behalf of the corporation.

The Foundation encourages all people to be philanthropic, to promote the welfare of others, especially by donating money and time to good causes. Learn more.

Shari & Hugh Grant

The Juneau Community Foundation held their annual Philanthropy recognition dinner on September 21, 2017. The event honors outstanding local individuals and businesses who demonstrate their commitment to community philanthropy and leadership. Hugh and Shari Grant received the Philanthropist of the Year award and Alaska Marine Lines and AELP/Avista accepted the Philanthropic Business awards.

Long-time residents Hugh and Shari Grant were honored for their many years of generous giving to local services such as Hospice, Foodbank, Haven House, Glory Hole, the Boy Scouts, arts and culture organizations, and special projects like the Seward Statue and the Juneau Whale. To further honor the Grants, and per their wishes, funds were raised for the Foundation’s Juneau Hospice Endowment Fund. A $50,000 challenge match was announced at the event and by the end of the festivities, $35,000 had been raised. The full match has since been met by many generous donors, and the Foundation’s Hospice Endowment Fund is now more than $228,000.

Business leaders AEL&P/Avista and Alaska Marine Lines are both renowned for their generous annual giving. Both businesses have deep Juneau roots and their traditions of giving which started long ago, continue today through their broad financial support of Juneau’s essential nonprofit sector. Connie Hulbert (AEL&P) and Kevin Anderson (AML) were on hand to receive their respective business awards. Learn more.

The Foundation encourages all people to be philanthropic, to promote the welfare of others, especially by donating money and time to good causes.

Molly, Toby, and Elias Minick

MinickTHEIR GIFT:  Sharing business profits with those in need
THEIR LEGACY:  Encouraging philanthropy in others

“When we present the money to the place we’re giving to, it really feels good.”

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Lois and Marshall Lind

LindTHEIR GIFT Changing individual lives
THEIR LEGACY Turning possibility into probability

“This is a great community and it’s great because there are a lot of people who are willing to help. That’s what makes it a nice place to live.”

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Eric Olsen and Vicki Bassett

Olsen and BassettTHEIR GIFT: Continuing generations of giving back
THEIR LEGACY: Building a Health Fund that supports people now and in the future

“We can’t take it with us.  And it’s a joy to spread it while we’re here.”

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Sally Smith

smith2HER GIFT: Supporting Juneau’s youth through the arts
HER LEGACY: Building a stronger community

“I love passing the baton to those coming up and then seeing what they do with it. And to know that when I’m gone, I’ll have left something behind that’s good.”

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Hugh and Shari Grant

GrantTHEIR GIFT: Support for local artists and projects
THEIR LEGACY: A vibrant arts culture for Juneau

“We’re local business people so we want to give back to Juneau projects. Juneau’s our home”

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Jim and Mary Lou King

KingTHEIR GIFT: Increasing understanding of our natural world
THEIR LEGACY: Opportunities and access for people who enjoy being outside

“Our trails are used even if it’s pouring rain, or snowing, or pure ice. You still see people on all our trails.”

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Paul Douglas

Paul DouglasHIS PASSION: Investing in local youth
HIS ACTION: Doing his best to help others
HIS LEGACY: Pursuing causes that are bigger than him

“I would like to see more people share their wealth, their education, their expertise, and their thinking to help our community continue to grow and thrive.”

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Julie and Peter Neyhart

NeyhartTHEIR PASSION: Assisting people in need
THEIR ACTION: Giving their time and money
THEIR LEGACY: Making a difference for a moment or for a lifetime

“Any action that shows love is a good response to God’s love for us and all that we have received. So that fits into both monetary giving and time.”

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Michael Kirk

Michael KirkHIS PASSION: Teaching high school students
HIS ACTION: Leaving a planned gift
HIS LEGACY: Providing an ongoing opportunity for all students to reach high and achieve

“He wanted to level the playing field so that kids who show effort, show motivation, have an equal ability to advance and excel.”

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Sam and Gayle Trivette

trivetteTHEIR PASSION: Preventing suicide in Southeast Alaska
THEIR ACTION: Educating others to support the survival of kids in Juneau
THEIR LEGACY: Helping to reduce youth suicides in Juneau

“There’s a wide range of things that make Juneau a rich place to live, and the Foundation is a way to continue to enhance it.”

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Dick and Candy Behrends

behrendsTHEIR PASSION: Making their home town the best place it can be
THEIR ACTION: Paying it forward
THEIR LEGACY: Ensuring that Juneau continues to be the really special place it is

“This is where we work, this is where we live, this is where our grandson will grow up, our daughter and her husband live here—we have very deep roots.”

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Jack Kreinheder and Amy Carroll

Donor StoryTHEIR PASSION: Making Juneau’s world class trail system even better
THEIR ACTION: Investing in Juneau’s trail systems
THEIR LEGACY: Free outdoor recreational opportunities for all

“We’d like to give back to the community—leave Juneau a better place and help expand and grow outdoor recreation opportunities for everybody.”

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