For more than 125 years Hecla has been a part of Shoshone County, they have seen the height of the community, as well as the low as businesses and other organizations have folded due to economic hardship.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Hecla’s investment in the communities throughout Shoshone County through charitable donations.
This year Mike Dexter with the Hecla Charitable Foundation presented giant checks to the Mullan Youth Work Program and the Wallace Youth Work Program.
“These two entities are just a sampling of the many that Hecla has donated to this year,” Dexter said. “We used to have years where we couldn’t donate because of silver prices and other things. But now Hecla sets aside funds that are not tied to Hecla Mining Company, but are invested elsewhere so that the Hecla Charitable Foundation will always have funds available to invest into the community.”
The youth work programs employ local teens in their respective cities over the summer where they help with everything from road repair and maintenance to watering the flowers, which is something that might not get done without the youth work programs.
“Without the youth work program, our city’s crosswalks and curbs wouldn’t get painted, and the cemeteries wouldn’t be as well maintained,” said Mullan Mayor Don Kotschevar in a past interview. “We at the city pay for all the equipment, but without the HCF, we wouldn’t be able to pay for the actual labor.”
With $12,500 donated to Mullan and $12,000 to Wallace, Hecla Charitable is the sole source of funding for both of these youth work programs.
Hecla Mining Company prides itself on developing a close relationship with the communities in which it operates, understanding local issues and concerns, providing a safe work environment and good paying jobs.
In many cases, these jobs are multi-generational, as in the case of the Silver Valley in North Idaho, where Hecla has operated for more than 126 years.
Seeing the need to smooth out the company’s community giving efforts, Hecla President and CEO Phil Baker, with support of the company’s Board of Directors, created the Hecla Charitable Foundation in 2007, which was initially seeded with company stock.
“The foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life and to promote the social, environmental, and economic sustainability and development of those communities where Hecla has operations and activities,” Baker said.
While the roller-coaster of metal prices makes mine planning and operations challenging, it also impacts a company’s ability to contribute to many worthwhile projects, as low metal prices often lead to budget cuts.
Within this overall mission, the Hecla Charitable Foundation focuses its efforts in four areas: education, community programs, youth activities and health services.
In 2009, the very first grants were awarded from the foundation, which has now grown from the initial stock advances and some periodic cash infusions to a self-sustained program with more than $6 million asset value.
Since the initial grants were awarded, the company has given more than $2.4 million to worthwhile community endeavors in Idaho, Alaska and Colorado with more than 50 percent of that invested in Idaho.