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April 2024 News Brief


The below News Brief highlights a range of community-driven initiatives and charitable endeavors. This edition showcases the foundation’s latest grant recipients and the diverse projects supported, including the notable contributions to the Unega Mountain Dog Rescue. It also celebrates new members and volunteers, and features a recent appreciation event, emphasizing the foundation’s dedication to fostering community involvement and educational efforts within Blaine County.

Grantee Spotlight

Unega Mountain Dog Rescue: Guardians of the Greats

In the picturesque landscapes of Blaine County, Unega Mountain Dog Rescue (UMDR) stands out as a beacon of hope and dedication for the majestic Great Pyrenees and Akbash breeds. As the only rescue of its kind in the state, UMDR has carved a niche in rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming these noble giants, often found wandering or injured after straying from local sheep herds.

Established in 2015 by Tiffany Larson, Unega emerged from a profound desire to make a tangible difference for these large working dogs. The organization is driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of community support. Over the past seven years, UMDR has become the voice for these amazing working dogs, vowing never to give up on these dogs, ensuring they have a chance to thrive in loving homes.

These rescues, both young and old, come to UMDR bearing the scars of abandonment or mishaps, but also with hearts full of hope. Unega not only offers them a safe haven but works tirelessly with local sheep companies to enhance the welfare of these breeds. Their efforts are a testament to the belief that every animal deserves a second chance to grow old in a happy and healthy environment.

The Wood River Women’s Foundation recognizes the critical role UMDR plays in animal welfare. Our grants help facilitate the operational necessities at Unega, including the expansion of kennels and veterinary facilities to accommodate more dogs. 

Unega has a permanent and growing pack of dogs who will live their lives in peace and happiness on their ranch. Starting with Kellee Lulu, their original rescue, the pack now includes: Boone, Olaf, JJ, Spencer, Nuka, Rainey, Amber, Tyson, Charlie Girl, Finley, Maverick, Cleo, Cassie, and Miya.  

UMDR’s mission is powered by the generosity of donors and the dedication of volunteers. The organization continually needs supplies such as dog beds, blankets, both wet and dry dog food, treats, toys, and various dog care items to keep their operations running smoothly. These contributions ensure that Unega can keep doing what it does best—saving lives and nurturing the bonds between these dignified dogs and their new human families. For more information and to read the stories of the pack visit https://www.unegamountaindogrescue.org/ 

As we celebrate the achievements of Unega Mountain Dog Rescue this month, we are reminded of the significant impact of our collaborative efforts. Let us continue to support UMDR, championing their cause and ensuring that these magnificent breeds find the love and care they so richly deserve. Together, we make a difference in the lives of many—both human and canine.

committee corner

Grants Update

Wood River Women’s Foundation Awards Record $504k to 27 Local Nonprofits

Congratulations to our members as this year we raised and awarded a record $503,647 to support the remarkable efforts of 27 Idaho nonprofit organizations serving Blaine County. Since our founding in 2005, we have awarded 242 grants totaling $3.95 million to nonprofits in the Wood River Valley.

The Foundation’s 2024 grants pool topped its previous year’s total by nearly $151,000. For the third consecutive year, we not only met but surpassed our previous collective giving efforts as members rallied together to answer the call from local nonprofits. The record pool size enabled the foundation to fund more nonprofits in 2024 than it had in any previous year and to fund all applicants fully.

“Our members have truly outdone themselves with their generosity this year,” said President Sandy McCullough. “They are stepping up in response to the compelling needs we see throughout the valley, evident in the dozens of applications we received. It’s a privilege for us to continue supporting our nonprofit partners who work tirelessly to provide essential and enriching services to our community.”

This year, WRWF members have chosen to allocate funds to a diverse array of nonprofit organizations, ranging from those offering crucial housing and legal assistance to providing nourishing meals for students, empowering education programs, invigorating outdoor initiatives, vital medical transportation services, enriching arts programming, and beyond. Several nonprofits received first-time WRWF funding including The Liberty Theater Company, Mountain Rides and The Trailing of the Sheep Parade.

“Our grant process not only offers our members an insightful view into the impactful work being carried out by nonprofits in the valley but also equips them with the necessary tools to evaluate grant proposals effectively,” explained Linda Segre, WRWF Grants Co-Chair. “This year, our team was thrilled to receive applications from several nonprofits that had never previously applied for WRWF funding. We appreciate the opportunity to lend our support to their invaluable endeavors.”

WRWF’s 2024 grant recipients are:
  • ARCH Community Housing – Developing Workforce Housing: $25,000
  • Blaine County Charitable Fund – Emergency Financial Assistance Programs: $25,000
  • Blaine County Education Foundation – School Meals, $25,000
  • Blaine County Recreation District – Quigley PistenBully SnowCat: $25,000
  • Far + Wise – New Elementary Cohort: $25,000
  • Flourish Foundation – Mindful Awareness Program – $25,000
  • Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center – Community Avalanche Awareness Education: $20,000
  • Girls On The Run – Youth Development: $10,000
  • Higher Ground Sun Valley – Cycling Program: $20,000
  • Idaho BaseCamp – Sahm 5th Grade Program: $25,000
  • Kiwanis – Hop Porter Performance Stage: $25,000
  • Mountain Rides – Non-Emergency Medical Transport: $25,000
  • North Blaine County Fire District – Greenhorn Housing Landscaping: $25,000
  • RotaRun Ski Club – History Preservation Project: $20,000
  • Sun Valley Museum of Art – PreK-12th Grade Enrichment: $20,000
  • Swiftsure Therapeutic Ranch – Care For Our Horses: $25,000
  • The Alliance of Idaho – Project Solo: $25,000
  • The Community Library – Computers and Internet Access: $16,400
  • The Liberty Theater Company – Pay What You Feel Tickets: $10,000
  • The Spot – Young Company Education: $13,200
  • The Thrival Foundation – Self-defense for women and children: $5,000
  • Trailing of the Sheep Festival – Big Sheep Parade: $5,000
  • Unega Mountain Dog Rescue – Intake Barn and Translator: $15,000
  • Wood River Baseball – Pitching Mounds: $8,546
  • Wood River Legacy Softball – Girls Softball: $8,500
  • Wood River Community Orchestra – Operating Expenses: $7,000
  • Wood River Community YMCA – Summer Education: $25,000


Many thanks again to our amazing Grants Committee and the Grants Committee leadership who made it possible through their volunteering, to have this impact on our communities’ nonprofits!  And of course thanks to our members who join together to create the funding pool – onwards and upwards!

Event Recap

Apres Ski Member Appreciation 

On February 16th, 2024, the Sun Valley Culinary Institute hosted the “Après Ski Member Appreciation Event,” under the leadership of President Sandy McCullough. The event spotlighted Aaron Bronson, Executive Director at The Space Idaho, who illuminated The Space’s mission to offer tailored academic support for 6th to 12th graders. Bronson’s remarks on breaking educational barriers and fostering each student’s potential was a highlight, resonating with attendees about the importance of personalized tutoring and the importance of a safe space to learn.

This event not only served as a token of appreciation for our members but also as an inspiring forum to understand and support the pivotal educational initiatives in our community. The takeaways were profound, leaving us all with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper appreciation for the transformative power of individualized education.

Committee corner

Become a Volunteer

Membership Committee volunteers delivering the WRWF mission and having fun doing it!

New year and a new chance to lend your services to our great, all volunteer organization. All of our committees could use additional help so reach out and explore the options. From Communications to Membership, Education and Finance, we’ve got just the opportunity for you to contribute whether you are here full-time or part-time. This month, we are spotlighting the Membership Committee.

Are you passionate about connecting with new faces, fostering their engagement with the Wood River Women’s Foundation, and sharing your enthusiasm for our mission? If so, we invite you to join our dynamic Membership Committee whose primary responsibilities are growing and retaining our membership. After all, members contributions to the pooled fund are what enable the WRWF to meet our mission of serving our nonprofit partners—-growth in membership means growth in the funds we have to invest to support the growing needs of our partners!

Whether you’re full or part-time in the Valley, an outgoing extrovert or a more introspective personality, your involvement is up to you – from a few hours a year to a couple of hours each month. Your time matters, no matter the quantity. From helping with nametags to shaping event experiences, from extending warm welcomes to new members to brainstorming innovative ways to enhance member appreciation, every moment you contribute makes a tangible impact. Opportunities abound for every level of availability!

Our monthly one-hour committee meetings are accessible via Zoom and in person. Your attendance, as your schedule allows, is warmly encouraged. Together, let’s create meaningful connections and shape a brighter future for our community!

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to call or email us!
Membership Co-Chairs:


5 th Annual State of the Valley Community Forum

Panelists and WRWF members at last year’s State of the Valley
  • When: Tuesday, February 6th
  • Where: Wood River High School
  • Time: 4:00-6:00

This year’s theme is “Educate Us – Discussing challenges for education in the Wood River Valley.”  We are looking to highlight issues the educational system needs to address through programming, tutoring, early education, and alternative programs.  We will be looking at what is being provided currently and what additional support is needed.

Wendy Jaquet will be moderating a stellar panel line up that you will not want to miss.

  • Aaron Bronson – The Space, Executive Director
  • Jim Foudy – Blaine County Schools, Superintendent
  • Kathryn Ivers – WR Early Learning Collaboration, Project Manager
  • Laura Rose Lewis – Far + Wise, Executive Director

We hope you can join us.

Contact Jenni Riley, Education Chair with any questions. Jenniriley12@gmail.com

Aprés ski member appreciation event

Last year’s Après host Gail Severn

WRWF’s Après Ski Member Appreciation is an exclusive member appreciation event that brings together our members and your invited guests for an afternoon of treats, and conversation. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals and learn more about the impact our organization is making in the community. This year, we are excited to announce that Aaron Bronson, ED of The Space Idaho will share information on their mission and how our nearly $40,000 in two, recent grants have impacted their organization.

Attendance for the Après Ski Member Appreciation event is limited due to popular demand. To ensure everyone has a comfortable experience, RSVPs are required for this event. We encourage our members & their guests to sign up as soon as possible to secure their spot.

We can’t wait to see you at the Après Ski Member Appreciation event at the Culinary Institute on February 16th from 4-6 pm to celebrate another successful year of women-powered philanthropy.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to our mission organization. Let’s continue to make a difference together!


Meet & Mingle

Location: Sun Valley Club House - 200 Trail Creek Rd
Date: April 25th
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

With grantee speaker Tammy Davis


Field Trip to the Wood River Orchestra

Location: 1050 Fox Acres Road (WRHS Performing Arts Theater
Located at the Community Campus)
Date: May 12th
Time: 4:oo pm

Register Here


Meet & Mingle + Wine Tutorial

Location: Zions Bank Ketchum
Date: May 23rd
Time: 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

With grantee guest speaker and spring wine tutorial

Member Tini ~ Lemon Drops & Pearls

Location: 102 Sagewillow, Elk Horn, Sun Valley
Date: July 2nd
Time: 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

More details to follow!


Event Recap

2023 Holiday gathering

More than 50 WRWF merry-makers enjoyed holiday festivities together on December 19th, at the home of WRWF Board Member, Trinka Dyer. We were delighted to celebrate another year of collectively supporting our community – a year in which we welcomed more than 50 new members, raised a record $353k Pooled Fund that was awarded to 22 nonprofit partners in April, and saw our members reach deep into their pockets to help fund local needs as well as the WRWF Endowment Fund. Thank you for your commitment to our mission and community!

And our work continues. We are excited about the upcoming grants cycle which opens January 12th and look forward to voting as a collective in March.

Thank you to all for your continued support of our wonderful community and organization and best wishes for a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2024!

Year in Review Slideshow

Grant Cycle

new members

We are delighted to extend a warm WRWF welcome this month to:

  • Anne Payne Barker
  • Joyce Gordon
  • Myrna Oliver
  • Toni Damalas

New WRWF members are invited to provide photos and a bit of information about themselves to share in the News Brief. We have so many interesting members and it is fun to read about everyone’s background. Thanks so much and we look forward to meeting you soon. Welcome!

New Member Spotlight

Toni Damalas

We are excited to spotlight Toni Damalas, a recent addition to the Wood River Women’s Foundation (WRWF) whose passion and commitment to community engagement shine brightly.

Toni was drawn to the WRWF by the genuine sense of community and camaraderie found in the Wood River Valley. Her desire to connect with other like-minded women and to make a significant impact in the area she loves has led her to become an active member of our foundation.

Professionally, Toni is the General Manager at Lloyd Construction, where she plays a crucial role in overseeing business operations and leading business development initiatives. Her extensive experience includes more than a decade spent with a military contractor, where she managed large-scale contracts and developed key industry partnerships. Toni holds a BA in Business Management.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Toni is deeply committed to her local community. She volunteers with Mountain Humane, demonstrating her love for animals and her dedication to animal welfare. Toni is also an avid lover of the outdoors. She enjoys exploring the beautiful mountains surrounding our valley and spends much of her personal time in nature. Her pets, Rhys the dog and Miah the cat, are her beloved companions in both her adventures and her moments of relaxation.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Toni Damalas to the Wood River Women’s Foundation. Welcome, Toni!

Joyce Gordon 

Joyce has been a part of our valley for over 30 years, actively contributing to various charitable causes, often preferring to remain anonymous. Her philanthropic spirit aligns perfectly with the values of WRWF, as we strive to make meaningful impacts across our local non-profits.

Before retiring less than two years ago, Joyce dedicated 47 years to working as a portfolio manager at an investment firm. She holds both a BS and an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California.

Now in retirement, Joyce is eager to channel more time and energy into local causes. Joining WRWF represents a new chapter for her, one where she can further her knowledge of our valley’s needs and connect with fellow members who share her enthusiasm for making a difference.

An outdoor enthusiast, Joyce spends her free time engaging in various activities that our beautiful valley offers. From alpine and cross-country skiing to hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking, she loves staying active. Among these, her favorite pastime is e-biking through the valley’s single-track trails, enjoying the scenic beauty and the thrill of the ride.
Joyce also cherishes moments spent with her dogs, who are her constant companions in her adventures and leisure.

As Joyce embarks on this new journey with WRWF, she looks forward to contributing to our mission and learning more about the unique opportunities to help our community thrive.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Joyce Gordon to the Wood River Women’s Foundation. Welcome, Joyce, and thank you for joining our group!


a new volunteer recognition program

At the Wood River Women’s Foundation, it is truly our volunteers who make it all happen! Our fun social gatherings, our thought provoking Field Trips, our Educational Events like State of the Valley, this Newsbrief that you are reading, our Financial Management, our Operations, our Grants cycle and so much more!

2024 will be the year of the “Wowies” – recognizing those volunteers who go the extra mile for our organization or community, those volunteers who selflessly give their time and their bounty to help the WRWF serve our mission and exemplify our core values as an organization.

Last month we shared the list of our core values -a list of guiding principles that define how we achieve our mission and pursue our purpose and they are as follows. At our May Mix and Mingle we will be honoring our first group of outstanding members who give so much to our organization. There is still time to nominate someone so please send us your nominees who demonstrate a collaborative spirit, an inclusive way of acting, those who are engaged and always there to help when needed, someone who acts transparently even when it is hard, who acts professionally and also makes it fun to be a member of WRWF.

Submit your 250 word (max) nominations to: wrwfcomms@gmail.com

Membership Renewal Reminder

Renew your membership if you haven’t already

Thank you for being committed to supporting WRWF’s nonprofit partners across Blaine County! We are honored to contribute to the work they do to ensure a healthy and vibrant community. Our next grant cycle will be WRWF’s 19th year of generous women pooling our funds to meet our mission – we hope you will be part of it

This year we have onboarded a new membership management platform and you will see something a bit different when you click this link to renew.

To begin the renewal process, click the “member renewal” button. You will be asked to “login” to the website. If you haven’t done this since the switch to the new website in August, please click “forgot your password” and put in your email address currently associated with your WRWF account. You will receive an email that details further instructions. Now you are ready to fill out the form on the membership renewal webpage!

These transitions are always a bit tricky and we appreciate your patience as we smooth out any hiccups. If you prefer to renew by check or DAF, there is a button to “Pay Later” that will capture your information in the new software system and allow you to mail the check in separately. If you just want to mail a check in that’s fine too, just send it to P.O. Box 3686, Ketchum, Idaho 83340.

If you have any questions while working your way through the form, please don’t hesitate to email the office for help at info@woodriverwomensfoundation.org – we welcome your questions.

If you have already received a renewal email and completed your renewal – thank you! If not, please renew at your earliest convenience and no later than November 15 so we can ensure we are ready to meet the next batch of grant requests from our non-profit community.

With Gratitude, your fellow members on the WRWF Board.

Blaine County School District Survey

Blaine County School District invites WRWF member participation in survey

In a nod to the respect WRWF has earned throughout the community, the BCSD will be sharing a survey with our membership as a step towards helping the school district develop its 2024-2029 strategic plan. Look for an email sent from WRWF with a link to the BCSD survey in January. Following the survey, BCSD will be conducting a series of community round table discussions. The last question on the survey will ask if the responder would be interested in attending a round table discussion which will go deeper in details and gather additional feedback.
We appreciate this opportunity to help the school district define its future strategic direction. It is yet another example of the value of your WRWF membership, giving you an amplified voice in Blaine County!

BFF! Membership Initiative

Calling all WRWF members! We’re here to remind you about our membership initiative program “BFF! – Bring Forth Friends!”

If two new members join WRWF under your encouragement, you will be thanked for your recruitment efforts with either a $25 coffee card or a bottle of wine. This is an opportunity to continue growing and strengthening our collective membership through your personal and unique networks. Remember, there is no limit to how many rewards you can receive in a year. Be sure your BFFs give you credit when they join so we can track your success towards a reward!

Keep spreading the word about WRWF and our mission!

This reward is being underwritten by a generous WRWF member.

job opening


The Wood River Women’s Foundation office is busy! If you know anyone who is proficient with technology wants to make a positive impact on our community, and is interested in a part-time year-round job, please refer them to us.

THANK YOU, Sponsors!

We are grateful for our sponsors and extend a hearty WRWF thank you to Graybird Foundation, and Zions Bank!

THANK YOU TO OUR contributors

Thank you to this month’s News Brief contributors:


  • Carol Hoffman
  • Sandy McCullough
  • Karissa Price Rico
  • Sarah Shepard
  • Karyna Veisberg