By Ken & Terry Yagura

The director of grants at the Cowell Foundation, Lise Maisano, committed the first $300,000 to the Boys & Girls Club capital campaign 25 years ago. She said, “It’s wonderful to donate to a project in a small community because you can see the impact it makes. It’s like looking into a fish bowl and being able to observe what is going on!”

We recalled her comment after our son, who grew up here, began insisting we move closer to him in Los Angeles so that he can be a resource for us. We’ve had a small apartment for five years in an Altadena retirement community close to his family and are now seriously considering making this move. This possibility has also caused us to think about the charitable donations we have made to local and national organizations, because we have already been approached to support other organizations near our apartment.

As we straddle living in two communities, we decided to review our charitable deductions that we recently listed for our accountant and, on a whim, decided to check the annual income and endowment sizes of our favorite national organizations. We discovered one nonprofit had an endowment of $4 billion and annual revenues of $1.8 billion. The metrics were $2.8 billion and $3.1 billion for another one. So, it was clear that our donations pretty much disappear when the figures were rounded up. They probably don’t even pay for the postage for sending out letters to donors, even though our donations made us feel good.


Lise’s words came back to us and still ring true to us today, whether the recipient is one of the organizations we have recently begun to support or one of those we have donated to for over 40 years. While tax deductibility is a plus, there are for-profit organizations and businesses that keep our communities vibrant and should be supported as well.

Our sense is that the articles in Moonshine Ink bring our communities more closely to its readers, while typical newspapers make us feel more like observers. By this we mean that we often just scan the headlines of newspapers in any locale to check what has happened over the last day to see if they affect us or someone we know. Only rarely do we read more deeply to see how an event impacted our community. In contrast, the well-written articles of Moonshine Ink pull us into the stories they are telling and seem to give us a warmer connection with the people and circumstances summarized in them.

We’re certain that many residents realize that our communities are very special and a reason why so many people continue to move to this beautiful part of the Sierra. However, the challenges our small communities face cannot always be adequately and promptly solved by government agencies, and as citizens we can help fill the voids that exist by volunteering our time and financial support.

We often think of the impact our longtime friend, Dave Ferrari of Kings Beach. Without him there would not be a Sierra College Campus in Truckee, Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, or the Sierra Community House (originally Family Resource Centers of Truckee and Kings Beach). His compassion and vision supported the need for these nonprofits. Community volunteers and generosity helped make them a reality.

This thought was recently amplified by a longtime local nonprofit leader Ken spoke with who now works for a government agency. The person volunteered that community involvement in Truckee/North Lake Tahoe provided an infrastructure that greatly helped government agencies become more effective and nimbler in serving the people of Truckee/North Tahoe. Without such community-initiated and supported infrastructure, improving services has been a challenge in other parts of our counties.

We feel that to build good communities, residents are also helped by knowing and understanding the history of our communities, the nonprofits, and businesses that strive to make them better, and the individuals who have made and are making them stronger and more enjoyable to live in. Newspapers also do some of this, but Moonshine Ink does it best for us. Therefore, while the Ink is not a nonprofit, we feel it helps our communities much like nonprofits do.

When considering all of the above, we decided to become Hero members of Moonshine Ink. We would like to encourage all of our citizens to support both our local nonprofits and community-oriented businesses like Moonshine Ink to keep our communities healthy, safe, and enjoyable to live in.

While we may be saying “so long” sometime in the next couple of years, we will continue to try to support organizations here and we hope that those of you who read Moonshine Ink will strive to do so, too.

~ After working as a microbiologist in cancer research at Stanford Medical Center, Terry Yagura founded the Kings Beach Elementary School Walk-a-thon and Arts for the Schools, which she ran for 25 years until 2008. As president of the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, Ken Yagura helped to develop community partnerships that raised the $10 million needed to build the club’s new facility.


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