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Wood River Women’s Foundation Also Funds Backcountry Rescue Vehicle, Childcare for Abuse Victims, and My Life Matters Program
Sunday, November 20, 2022


An initiative to provide early childhood education opportunities for Blaine County youth was front and center when Wood River Women’s Foundation members held their annual meeting this year.

Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Boise-based Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children told the women assembled under a tent at Trail Creek Cabin that early stimulation is crucial to children’s success, as their early years are a time of remarkable brain growth. Early education sets the foundation for subsequent learning and development, she added.

The Idaho AEYC has created childcare and preschool programs in 19 other communities, she said, as she praised the effort to create one in Blaine County.

Oppenheimer noted that every community has different needs and challenges; thus, it is important to tackle the challenge locally.

Louisa Moats, who co-chaired the WRWF’s Focus Grant 2022 which is putting $200,000 towards the effort, noted that up to 45 percent of Blaine County’s student body is of Hispanic origin; 23 percent of those have little English when they enter school.

Only 33 percent of Spanish-speaking students in Blaine County are proficient in reading between kindergarten and third grade; 69 percent of white students are considered proficient. But that can be fixed, said Moats, who is a nationally recognized educational consultant.

While the young child’s educational initiative may be front and center, it was only one of many initiatives the women’s philanthropic organization chose to fund this year.

Sally Halstead led members on a field trip to the Ketchum Fire Department this fall where they got an up-close and personal look at the new all-terrain backcountry rescue vehicle that they helped to purchase with a $20,000 grant. The backcountry rescue vehicle can go off-road in summer and will be outfitted with snow tracks so that it is functional year-round, said Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin.

The vehicle allows medical personnel respond quickly to emergencies in areas like Boulder City that otherwise would have involved a long, slow hike, he said.

With a record number of skier visits at Sun Valley Resort last year, first responders saw a record number of people needing help on the mountain, McLaughlin added. And they’ve seen an increase in the number of mountain bike and eBike accidents in the backcountry, as well.

The Foundation’s 344 members, which include fulltime and parttime residents, have been getting out on more field trips this year to see the results of their donations. In addition to the fire station, for instance, they toured the Nature Conservancy’s new Conservation and Education Center at Silver Creek.

And they met with staff workers of La Alianza to learn about the work they do for undocumented immigrants in the valley.

It’s not all work and no play, however.

The women went on their first BoardWalk at Lake Creek this fall, they held a Nine and Wine golf game, and they enjoyed a Mix and Mingle at River Run Plaza. They will hold a holiday gathering in mid-December.

“I’ve been involved in a whole lot of charities. But to see this one give out nearly $300,000--this is a charity that can make a big impact,” said member Carol Thompson.


The Wood River Women’s Foundation has awarded more than $3 million in 183 grants to local nonprofit organizations since its inception in 2005.

This past year the collective giving group awarded $348,000 to 16 nonprofits, including the Blaine County Charitable Fund, ARCH Community Housing Trust, Men’s Second Chance Living, Swiftsure Therapeutic Equine Ranch, The Advocates, The Crisis Hotline, The Hunger Coalition and Wood River Fire & Rescue.

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