By Ken Levy
Special to the IBR
From magic shows to horseback therapy for children with mental challenges, the Jeker Foundation and Jeker Family Trust are helping meet the needs of children and families throughout the Treasure Valley and beyond.
Julius C. Jeker’s parents came to Idaho from Switzerland and homesteaded 1,400 acres of land on each side of Dry Creek Road. Julius sold the land to an investor, earning $40 million, from which the foundation was funded and created.
Today, the Jeker Foundation and Jeker Family Trust support many worthy programs, mostly in Eagle and the Treasure Valley. Funds have supported Eagle High, Eagle Elementary, and their athletic programs and musical departments, said Jill Aldape, Festival of Trees director, Saint Alphonsus Foundation.
While some dollars have been spent on international charities, the focus for the Trust and Foundation has been that the “money was made here and will stay here,” and 90 percent of their resources support programs in the Treasure Valley.
The Jeker Foundation consistently supports the Ronald McDonald House, Terry Reilly Health Services, Genesis World Mission, St. Vincent’s de Paul, Salvation Army, Rescue Mission/City of Light, Interfaith Sanctuary, Idaho Food Bank, Assistance League of Boise, and Zoo Boise.
“The Saint Alphonsus Festival of Trees is the signature fundraising event for Saint Alphonsus and is a holiday tradition for many families in the Treasure Valley and beyond. The challenge of annual events is to keep them interesting and new from year to year, and in 2009, guests to the Festival of Trees were treated with a special new addition: the Odyssey Illusions Magic Show. This Magic Show was made possible with a grant from the Jeker Family Trust,” Aldape said.
The Jeker Family Trust supported magic shows by Odyssey Illusions throughout the Treasure Valley, Aldape said, including presentations for youngsters in the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and in schools.
“The joy and wonder that kids experienced with these shows cannot be overstated. The magic shows offered humor, mystery and surprise, all in a family-friendly tone,” she said.
The magic shows made possible by the Jeker Family Trust are impressive and inspire awe in people of all ages. This special offering has touched the lives of tens of thousands of kids, and kids at heart.”
“The [Foundation] has been exceedingly supportive of the mission of Terry Reilly since its beginning,” said Ann Sandven, chief development officer for Terry Reilly Health Services in Boise.
Over the past three years, the foundation has funded much-needed remodeling at the Homedale Clinic; the Marsing Clinic, Canyon Dental, and Boise Clinic capital campaigns; and the Terry Reilly Zero Pay Fund, according to Sandven.
“In all, the Julius C. Jeker Foundation has given Terry Reilly $170,000 for capital and operating fund needs,” she said. “Having a local foundation that is interested in supporting building repair and construction is wonderful, as most of our resources may only be used for operations.”
Don Copple Jr., executive director of the Jeker Foundation, said the Foundation and the Jeker Family Trust serve different needs.
“The Foundation has a human and basic needs focus, while the Trust is more focused on education and filling the void where the Foundation doesn’t fund,” he said.
The Ronald McDonald House in Boise has received funding from the Jeker Foundation since 2007, said Mindy Plumlee, executive director.
“The Foundation has provided funding for the core operations of the Ronald McDonald House, allowing us to serve families who have traveled to Boise with their sick children,” she said. “While the hospital cares for the sick child, the House cares for the family. It is that family attitude of support and caring that the Jeker Foundation exemplifies.”
Copple said he is particularly proud of the seed money the Foundation and Trust granted for Ride for Joy, a program that trains children with mental disabilities to ride horseback. He felt good about “getting it off the ground,” and now that program is thriving with families enjoying the results of this type of unique therapy.
Ken Levy is a writer and photographer residing in Driggs, Idaho.