Giving beyond the gates
Even though its gates are a mere four miles from downtown, the Lahontan subdivision is a place where most Truckee residents have never been even if they have tried to get inside.Despite the exclusive nature of Lahontan, some of the folks inside its gates are trying to reach out to Truckee.Consider this: Of the $5.4 million the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation has given away to organizations in Truckee and North Tahoe in the past four years, 5 percent of that has been raised by a small group of people in the Lahontan subdivision. And of the funds raised by the Lahontan foundation, almost all of that money went to Truckee.Thats a small organization, and thats a substantial amount of money, said Lisa Dobey, president of the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. Its a huge number of organizations that depend on the assistance of the Lahontan Community Foundation.Fifty Truckee area organizations applied for the $115,000 in grant money available this year from the Lahontan Community Foundation. The Lahontan foundation, one of hundreds of donor-advised funds held by the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, has a dozen or so board members, and theyre almost exclusively part-time homeowners. They draw donations from Lahontan residents, members and employees, and an annual golf tournament.The members of the Lahontan Community Foundations board come from diverse backgrounds, but they have a few key characteristics in common: Substantial assets and a desire to give to the community that lies on the other side of their gates.Obviously theres a fair amount of wealth within Lahontan, and we wanted to be involved and help the community, said board member Jeff Berkley, who spends a majority of his time in Scottsdale, Ariz. I think the residents and members thought that Truckee is a great place, and they wanted to keep it the way it is.Board member Richard Bennett, a part-time Lahontan resident, owns a vineyard in Napa Valley and has been coming to Truckee since he was a child. Bennett said his interests in open space, trails and the outdoors activities he enjoyed as a child in Truckee were what drew him and others to the foundation originally.However, Very quickly, I think my focus, and the focus of others, broadened, he said. Now its safe to say that our focus has expanded, especially to more social programs.The list of groups that have benefited from the Lahontan communitys donations is extensive. Lahontan donors have paid for a music program at the Sierra Teen Education & Parenting Program, furniture at the Truckee Library, Teachers Association for Outdoor Education, and a lot more.Wendy Williams, a foundation board member whose primarily lives in Berkeley, said its only natural for groups like this to gravitate toward more social programs.As people understand the socially disadvantaged, they tend to become more oriented toward those types of people, Williams said.In the past four years, the Lahontan Community Foundation has increasingly become a funding powerhouse for Truckee, giving away more money this year than they have in any previous year. And Bennett said he expects the Lahontan Community Foundation to continue to expand its reach.I think that we have exceeded our initial expectations, but now that we have been made aware of the willingness of the people in the Lahontan Community [to donate money], weve raised our sights, Bennett said. Weve become more knowledgeable of what the Truckee community needs.