JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Shaeli Funk never knew her great-grandfather. The Marine was one of the many that gave his life at Iwo Jima in WWII. He was with the 28th Regiment of the 5th Marine Division. He died in a foxhole on a tiny Japanese island 5,700 miles from home.
“My great-grandfather made the ultimate sacrifice so that others back home may enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I never met my great grandfather, but he holds a permanent spot as one of my personal heroes,” Funk said of Carl Irving Birkemeyer, PFC.
Funk chose to commemorate Carl and others like him with her Senior Capstone Project. Senior Capstone Class is a new program introduced at Jackson Hole High School this past fall. It is designed to get students connected with their community in order to make a meaningful difference, or better their understanding of a topic of interest.
Funk says she decided to do something for “our American heroes who are still alive.” She has worked out an agreement with the town to place six designated Veteran and Active Military parking spots around Jackson Hole at Home Ranch Lot, East Deloney Lot, public parking garage, Bubbas Bar-B-Q parking lot, and two other private lots still being decided.
The signs are being currently being manufactured in Denver and should arrive in Jackson soon—perfect timing for May, which happens to be Military Awareness Month. The parking signs will be printed in a “Thank You Note” format with words chosen by local students to thank Veterans and those currently serving. As a branch of this project, multiple “luncheons” took place at Jackson Elementary School to bring veterans into the local schools and connect them with students.
Funk has hundreds of hours into the project and a significant financial component ahead of her. The signs themselves cost money to print and then there is labor by the Public Works Department that will install the signs. The bill has run to $3,000, and could top out at $5,000 when everything is finished.
To get the bills paid, Funk is inviting county residents to be a part of the project with their financial contribution. All proceeds she raises will go towards the Veteran and Active Military Parking spots, and any extra raised will go towards veterans/military groups/services around Jackson and the State of Wyoming.
To make a gift online
Go to the Teton County Education website. Use the “donate now” button on the homepage. In order to direct your gift to this specific project, simply note “For the Veteran and Active Military Parking Senior Capstone Project” in the fields provided.
Make a gift by check
Make your check out to the Teton County Education Foundation. In order to direct your gift to this specific project, simply note “For the Veteran and Active Military Parking Senior Capstone Project” in the notes section of the check or enclose a note indicating this. Mail the check to P.O. Box 1048, Jackson, Wyoming 83001.
Making a credit card gift
Use the online form on the Teton Education Foundation website, send us a note with your information or call us at (307) 690-7781. Please specify that your gift is directed to “The Veteran and Active Military Parking Senior Capstone Project”. All credit card gifts are made through the Teton County Education Foundation “Network for Good” account, a secure online platform founded in 2001 with a history of possessing over one billion dollars in gifts.
Also please note that following receiving your receipt of your gift, you will receive an acknowledgement letter from the Teton County Education Foundation. For credit card gifts, you will also receive email confirmation directly from Network for Good immediately upon processing.